Many rheumatoid arthritis patients quit taking their medication during a critical time of the disease, a new study shows.
In fact, about half discontinue their medication within the first two years. But studies have shown that patients sustain maximum benefit from treatment within this time frame, according to a news release from European League Against Rheumatism.
Researchers from Stanford University also found that up to one-third of rheumatoid arthritis patients discontinue or change therapy within the first year of treatment. They studied data from more than 6,200 patients.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a chronic autoimmune disease that mainly attacks flexible joints in the body. A progressive disease, it can cause pain, stiffness, joint destruction and deformity. When it’s left untreated, the damage can significantly and permanently reduce joint function and mobility, said lead author of the study Vibeke Strand, a clinical professor at Stanford University School of Medicine in California.
“While there is no cure for RA, initiating treatment early and improving adherence can enable patients to lead active and productive lives,” Strand said. “These data are derived from a U.S. experience, which is associated with a significantly greater prevalence of biologic utilization than is typically seen elsewhere. The results may, therefore, be different in societies with less prevalent utilization of these agents.”
The most common reason patients gave for stopping their medication was that it wasn’t working anymore. Other reasons were concerns about safety, physician or patient preference and access to treatment.
The data were presented at EULAR 2013, the Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism.
Source: news release from European League Against Rheumatism
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