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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 13th Annual Workshop on Advances in Targeted Therapies in April, 2011. 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 to supply 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 abatacept, B cell-specific agents, interleukin 1 (IL-1) antagonists, tocilizumab (TCZ) and tumour necrosis factor α blocking agents (TNF inhibitors), an update of the previous consensus statement is appropriate. To allow ease of updating, the 2010 (data from March 2009 to January 2010) updates are incorporated into the body of the article, while 2011 updates (February 2010–January 2011) are separated and highlighted. 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 appendix 1.1 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 rheumatologists and bioscientists who attended …
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