Drug update

Biological therapies for rheumatoid arthritis: the non-TNF inhibitors

John HY Moi, Russell RC Buchanan



Following on from an earlier article by these authors on tumour necrosis factor (TNF) inhibitors for rheumatoid arthritis, this second article focuses on the non-TNF inhibitors. These highly effective biological therapies have radically changed how rheumatoid arthritis is managed, helping patients achieve not only disease control but also long-term remission.

Article Extract

Therapy for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is directed at interrupting the inflammatory process, which, left unchecked, causes irreversible joint damage, deformity and long-term functional impairment. The earlier therapy is initiated, the better the long-term outcomes in patients with RA. Methotrexate is the main disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) used for the treatment of RA and remains the gold standard of first-line therapy. However, an emerging class of biological DMARDs is now available for patients who fail to respond to methotrexate monotherapy and/or combination therapy with other traditional DMARDs. Treatment with these new biological DMARDs is designed to specifically target the immune response underlying the development and progression of RA.