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1997. An auspicious year which at the time marked the 50th anniversary of the European Alliance of Associations for Rheumatology (EULAR). As we now celebrate the 75th year of EULAR, it is an opportunity to reflect on where we were 25 years ago.
In 1997, many exciting changes were occurring within EULAR to bring the European rheumatology community even closer together (patients, healthcare professionals and rheumatologists). That year, the EULAR standing committee chairs become ex-officio members of the EULAR Executive Committee and a Vice-President for Allied Health Professionals was instituted.
Clinically, the role of EULAR also continued to expand. Just the year before, on behalf of the EULAR Standing Committee for International Clinical Studies including Therapeutic Trials, the EULAR Response Criteria for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), using the Disease Activity Score, had been published, an outcome measure still in wide use today.1 A EULAR consensus statement, jointly with the European Group for Blood and Marrow Transplantation, on the role of stem cell transplants in autoimmune disease was also published.2 They were classed as an experimental procedure, to be considered only when an autoimmune disease is severe enough to have an increased risk of mortality. Even now, it remains an exceptionally rare approach to treatment to severe rheumatic diseases.
In 1997, I was an internal medicine trainee in Winnipeg, Canada. I was contemplating my future medical career and having selected rheumatology, was about to accept a training position at the University of Toronto. This was an exciting time for rheumatology as there were discussions of a new treatment, anti-cytokine therapies or specifically, tumour necrosis factor inhibitors (TNFi), which were showing great promise in early clinical trials.3 Our specialty and importantly, the outcomes for our patients, were about to change in a way we never could have imagined. Indeed, at …
Handling editor Josef S Smolen
Contributors KLH is the sole author of this commentary.
Funding KLH is supported by the NIHR Manchester Biomedical Research Centre.
Competing interests KLH has received honoraria from Abbvie and Grant income from Pfizer and BMS.
Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.
Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.