Background Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is based on drug therapy. With effective drugs being authorized for use and generic drugs becoming available in the market, patients with RA now have an abundance of drugs as treatment options.
Objectives To conduct a survey of patients with RA about the drugs prescribed to them and the categories to which the drugs belong, as well as their knowledge and understanding of the drug names.
Methods We conducted an interview survey of 135 patients with RA who had outpatient visits between April and October 2014 and who were prescribed biological drugs. The patients were interviewed regarding the names of the biological drugs and other additional oral medications they were using. Distinction was made between antirheumatic drugs, steroids, and anti-inflammatory agents, and the relevant trade names.
Results Of the 135 patients, 34 were men and 101 were women (74.8%). Their ages ranged from 25 to 88 years (mean, 58.8 years). The different biologics prescribed to the 135 patients with RA included infliximab (IFX; n=27 cases), etanercept (ETN; n=11 cases), adalimumab (ADA; n=14 cases), tocilizumab (TCZ; n=43 cases), abatacept (ABT; n=29 cases), golimumab (GLM; n=7 cases), and certolizumab-pegol (CZP; n=4). Oral medications were prescribed as follows: 104 cases (77.0%), antirheumatic drugs; 36 cases (26.7%), steroids; and 49 cases (36.3%), anti-inflammatory analgesics. Of those prescribed with antirheumatic drugs, steroids, and anti-inflammatory analgesics, 24 (23/1%), 11 (30.1%), and 15 (11.1%), respectively, expressed lack of knowledge of the name and type of drug prescribed. In addition, 15 (11.1%) of the 135 patients expressed lack of knowledge of the trade name of the biological drug prescribed to them. The mean age of the 15 patients was 67.3 years, which is higher than the overall mean. Of the 15 patients, 6 were prescribed TCZ; 4, ABT; 3, IFX; and 2, ADA and GLM, respectively. Of the 15 patients, only 1 received self-administered injections of ADA, while the remaining 14 patients had the drug administered at the hospital by health-care providers.
Conclusions Our investigation about patients' understanding of drug names and their categories revealed that 20% to 30% of our patients lacked a clear understanding of oral drugs. Approximately 10% of the patients lack an understanding of even those drugs that require cautious use due to their potential for causing adverse events. When the drugs were administered intravenously by health-care providers, the patients had a particular lack of inclination to learn the drug name. Thus, the results of this study indicate that showing and explaining to the patients the types and names of the drugs that they will be taking are necessary.
Disclosure of Interest None declared