Following a report that seven of 20 patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) had come into clinical and laboratory remission after treatment with rifampicin, and that six of the seven responders had a disease duration of less than three years, 21 patients with classical or definite RA of recent onset were treated with 600 mg rifampicin and 300 mg isoniazid daily for six months. Fourteen of 21 patients completed six months' treatment, but there was no significant improvement in the mean values of the clinical and laboratory parameters measured. The improvement suggested by preliminary studies in patients with early RA is not seen in this larger group. In patients with a disease duration of less than 18 months, however, there was a significant decrease in the erythrocyte sedimentation rate and the serum concentrations of C reactive protein after treatment for six months, although there was no significant clinical improvement. Future studies of this drug in patients with RA should concentrate on this group.
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