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Dynamical trajectory of glucocorticoids tapering and discontinuation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis commencing glucocorticoids with csDMARDs: a real-world data from 2009 to 2020

Abstract

Objective To unravel the dynamical trajectory and features of glucocorticoids (GC) tapering and discontinuation in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) commencing GC with concomitant conventional synthetic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (csDMARDs).

Methods We used data from longitudinal real-world Treat-to-TARget in RA cohort. Patients with RA who started GC and contaminant csDMARDs therapy were included. The changes in GC dose and disease activity were evaluated. GC discontinuation rate was analysed using Kaplan-Meier analysis. The relapse profile within 6 months after GC discontinuation was also analysed.

Results A total of 207 patients with RA were included. During a median follow-up of 38.6 months, 124 patients discontinued GC. The median prednisolone dose of 10 (5–10) mg/day at initiation was reduced by 50% in the first 6 months and then more slowly, to zero by 48 months eventually. The cumulative probabilities of GC discontinuation were 9.7%, 26.6%, 48.0% and 58.6% at month 6, years 1, 2 and 3, with calculated median time to GC cessation of 27 months. In 110 DMARD-naïve patients, the corresponding cumulative probabilities of GC discontinuation were, respectively, 12.7%, 30.0%, 50.9% and 60.6%, with calculated median time to GC cessation of 24 months. Of the 124 patients who discontinued GC, adding other csDMARDs or concomitant csDMARDs increment was documented in 28.2% of them. Approximately half of 124 patients were in clinical remission at GC discontinuation. Within 6 months after GC withdrawal, 79.1% (91/115) of patients maintained relapse free.

Conclusions In patients with RA commencing GC besides csDMARDs, GC is feasibly discontinued with favourable control of disease activity in real-life setting, mostly without short-term flare. But the withdrawal time is far from reaching the recommended time frame, indicating the gap between real-world practice and current guidelines.

  • arthritis
  • rheumatoid
  • glucocorticoids
  • epidemiology
  • outcome assessment
  • health care

Data availability statement

All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information. All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.

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