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As in previous years, the consensus group to consider the use of biological agents in the treatment of rheumatic diseases met during the 10th Annual Workshop on Advances in Targeted Therapies. The group consisted of rheumatologists from a number of universities among the continents of Europe, North America, South America, Australia and Asia. Pharmaceutical industry support was obtained from a number of companies for the annual workshop itself but these companies had no part in the decisions about the specific programme or about the academic participants at this conference. Representatives of the supporting sponsors participated in the initial working groups with emphasis on supplying factual information. The sponsors did not participate in the drafting of the consensus statement.
This consensus was prepared from the perspective of the treating physician.
In view of the new data for tumour necrosis factor α (TNFα) blocking agents, B-cell-specific agents and interleukin 1 receptor antagonists (IL1ra), an update of the previous consensus statement is appropriate. The consensus statement is annotated to document the credibility of the data supporting it as much as possible. This annotation is that of Shekelle et al and is described in an appendix. We have modified the Shekelle annotation by designating all abstracts as “category D evidence”, whether they describe well-controlled trials or not, as details of the study were often not available in the abstracts. Further, the number of possible references has become so large, that reviews are sometimes included; if they contain category A references, they will be referred to as category A evidence.
The 162 rheumatologists and bioscientists who attended the consensus conference were from 23 countries, and were selected for their expertise in the use of biological agents for the treatment of rheumatic diseases. The number of attendees and participants was limited so that not everyone who …
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