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Long‐Term Prospective Study of Methotrexate in the Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis

Michael E. Weinblatt MD

Corresponding Author

Department of Rheumatology and Immunology, the Department of Radiology, and the Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Department of Rheumatology and Immunology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, 75 Francis Street, Boston, MA 02115
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Barbara N. Weissman MD

Department of Rheumatology and Immunology, the Department of Radiology, and the Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

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Donald E. Holdsworth MD

Department of Rheumatology and Immunology, the Department of Radiology, and the Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

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Patricia A. Fraser MD, MPH

Department of Rheumatology and Immunology, the Department of Radiology, and the Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

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Agnes L. Maier BA

Department of Rheumatology and Immunology, the Department of Radiology, and the Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

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Kenneth R. Falchuk MD

Department of Rheumatology and Immunology, the Department of Radiology, and the Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

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Jonathan S. Cobly MD

Department of Rheumatology and Immunology, the Department of Radiology, and the Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

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First published: February 1992
Cited by: 139

Abstract

Objective. To determine the long‐term efficacy and safety of low‐dose methotrexate (MTX) in rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

Methods. Eighty‐four—month open prospective trial at a single academic rheumatology center.

Results. Twenty‐six patients were enrolled in a prospective study of the long‐term efficacy of MTX in RA; a significant improvement had been demonstrated after 36 months of therapy. Twelve patients remained in the study at the 84‐month visit; the mean weekly dosage of MTX was 10.2 mg. A significant improvement was still noted at 84 months in the number of painful joints, number of swollen joints, joint pain index, joint swelling index, and physician and patient global assessments. A 50% improvement in the joint pain index and joint swelling index was observed in more than 80% of the 12 patients still enrolled. A significant reduction in prednisone dosage was achieved; of 14 patients taking prednisone at entry, 7 had discontinued prednisone completely. Fourteen patients withdrew from the study: 10 between 0 and 36 months, and 4 between 36 and 84 months. Toxicity in 3 patients and visit noncompliance in 1 patient were the reasons for withdrawal between 36 and 84 months. At 84 months, 46% of the patients remained in the study; 11.5% had discontinued due to MTX toxicity.

Conclusion. The effectiveness of MTX in the treatment of RA continues to be demonstrated in this prospective study, after 84 months of treatment.

Number of times cited according to CrossRef: 139

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