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The EULAR standing Committee on International Clinical Studies Including Therapeutic Trials has over 10 working groups covering all areas in the field of rheumatology. As it is impossible to give you in this short overview all the achievements of the past year I kindly invite you to have a look at our newsletter, which was published two to three times a year during the past three years and distributed to all committee members and the national societies. In addition, during the EULAR congress in Lisbon most of the working groups presented their activities during special standing committee sessions.
In December last year the first meeting of the European Scleroderma Group (named EUSTAR) was held in Florence. This group coordinates the different scleroderma studies in Europe and helps to improve the care given to patients with scleroderma by organising, among other things, educational courses.
The working group on polymyalgia rheumatica has developed new diagnostic and response criteria, which were presented during the EULAR 2003 meeting.
The working group on disease activity in rheumatoid arthritis has developed a disease activity score using C reactive protein as the acute phase response instead of the erythrocyte sedimentation rate. This was presented in a working group session at the EULAR 2003 meeting. The EULAR handbook on clinical assessments developed by this working group has been used widely in past years, and the second updated edition will be published shortly. Studies, in cooperation with the American College of Rheumatology and OMERACT (Outcome Measures in Rheumatology Clinical Trials), are continuing to define criteria for low disease activity in daily clinical practice.
I have been chairman of this committee for four years and it is now time to resign. It has been a great pleasure and honour to work with a group of such enthusiastic European rheumatologists. However, there is still a lot to achieve, and I am therefore pleased that Professor Maxime Dougados has agreed to take over the job as chairman, and I wish him and the committee all the best for the future.