In a double blind, single observer, 48 week study the effects of sulphasalazine (2 g daily) and hydroxychloroquine (400 mg daily months 0-6, thereafter 200 mg daily) were compared in 60 patients with definite or classical rheumatoid arthritis. They had not been treated previously with second line drugs. The onset of response with sulphasalazine was earlier than with hydroxychloroquine. After 48 weeks a comparison of the treatments showed no statistically significant differences in disease activity variables. Adverse reaction was the main reason for withdrawal in the sulphasalazine group and lack of efficacy in the hydroxychloroquine group. All adverse reactions, one being agranulocytosis after eight weeks of sulphasalazine treatment, appeared in the first three months of treatment and were completely reversible.
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