This systematic literature review (SLR) regarding the efficacy, duration of use and safety of glucocorticoids (GCs), was performed to inform the 2022 update of the EULAR recommendations for the management of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Studies on GC efficacy were identified from a separate search on the efficacy of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs). A combined search was performed for the duration of use and safety of GCs in RA patients. Dose-defined and time-defined GC treatment of any dose and duration (excluding intra-articular GCs) prescribed in combination with other DMARDs were considered. Results are presented descriptively. Two included studies confirmed the efficacy of GC bridging as initial therapy, with equal efficacy after 2 years of initial doses of 30 mg/day compared with 60 mg/day prednisone. Based on a recently performed SLR, in clinical trials most patients starting initial GC bridging are able to stop GCs within 12 (22% patients continued on GCs) to 24 months (10% patients continued on GCs). The safety search included 12 RCTs and 21 observational studies. Well-known safety risks of GC use were confirmed, including an increased risk of osteoporotic fractures, serious infections, diabetes and mortality. Data on cardiovascular outcomes were Inconsistent. Overall, safety risks increased with increasing dose and/or duration, but evidence on which dose is safe was conflicting. In conclusion, this SLR has confirmed the efficacy of GCs in the treatment of RA. In clinical trials, most patients have shown to be able to stop GCs within 12–24 months. Well-known safety risks of GC use have been confirmed, but with heterogeneity between studies.
- Arthritis, Rheumatoid
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Handling editor David S Pisetsky
Twitter @AlexSepriano, @Janetbirdope
Contributors SAB extracted the data for the SLR; JWS developed the search strategies; SAB wrote the first version of the manuscript and all authors revised the manuscript critically for important intellectual content and gave final approval of the version to be published.
Funding This work was supported by the European Alliance of Associations for Rheumatology.
Competing interests SAB: received an ASPIRE grant from Pfizer. AS: received speaker/consulting fees from UCB, Novartis and Lilly. AK: Speakers bureau, Consultancy: AbbVie, Amgen, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Gilead, Janssen, Merck Sharp and Dohme, Novartis, UCB und Pfizer. JWS: received grants from Abbvie, Astra-Zeneca, Janssen, Lilly, Novartis, Roche and honoraria from Abbvie, Amgen, Astra-Zeneca, Astro, BMS, Celgene, Celltrion, Chugai, Gilead, ILTOO, Janssen, Lilly, MSD, Novartis-Sandoz, Pfizer, Roche, Samsung, Sanofi, UCB. DvdH: received consulting fees from AbbVie, Amgen, Astellas, AstraZeneca, BMS, Boehringer Ingelheim, Celgene, Daiichi, Eli-Lilly, Galapagos, Gilead, Glaxo-Smith-Kline, Janssen, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, Regeneron, Roche, Sanofi, Takeda, UCB Pharma and is Director of Imaging Rheumatology bv. RC received consulting fees from Abbvie, BMS, Amgen, Celltrion, Eli-Lilly, Fresenius-Kabi, Galapagos, Janssen, MSD, Novartis, Pfizer, UCB Pharma. CJE Has received fees from Abbvie, Astra Zeneca, BMS, Celgene, Celltrion, Fresenius Kabi, Gilead, Galapagos, GSK, Janssen, Eli Lilly, Pfizer, Roche, Sanofi for advisory boards, speakers bureau and research support. PV received consulting fees from Abbvie, BMS, Celltrion, Eli Lilly, Galapagos, Gilead, Nordic Pharma, Pfizer, Sidekick Health, UCB and speaker’s fees from Eli Lilly, Galapagos, MSD and Roularta. Holds the Pfizer Chair Early RA Management at KU Leuven. SdS: none. JEP received research grants from AbbVie, Frensenius Kabi, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, Pfizer, Seattle Genetics and consulting fees from AbbVie, Amgen, Astra Zeneca, BI, BMS, Celltrion, EMERALD, Frensenius Kabi, Galapagos, GSK, Janssen, Lilly, Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals, Medexus, Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma, Novartis, Pfizer, Roche, Sandoz, Samsung, Sobi, Viatris. TT received grants from AbbVie GK, Astellas, Asahi Kasei, Chugai, Daiichi Sankyo, Eisai, Takeda, Mitsubishi Tanabe, Nippon Kayaku, and speakers/consulting fees from AbbVie GK, Astellas, Chugai, Daiichi Sankyo, Eli Lilly Japan, Eisai, Gilead, Mitsubishi Tanabe, Pfizer Japan. KLH received speaker’s fees from Abbvie and research grants from Pfizer and BMS. KLW received research grants from Pfizer, BMS, and GSK, and scientific consulting fees from UCB, Abbvie, BMS, Galapagos, Gilead, Lilly, GSK, Roche, and Novartis. DA has received grants and/or speaker/consulting fees from Abbvie, Amgen, Lilly, Janssen, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, Roche, SoBi, Sanofi, Sandoz, and Roche. TAS has received grant/research support from AbbVie and Roche, has been a consultant for AbbVie and Sanofi Genzyme, and has been a paid speaker for AbbVie, Novartis, Roche, Sanofi, and Takeda. JSS: none. RBML: received consulting fees from AbbVie, BMS, Celgene, Eli-Lilly, Galapagos, Gilead, Glaxo-Smith-Kline, Janssen, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, Roche, UCB and is Director of Rheumatology Consultancy bv. JSS, DvdH, KLH, KLW, DD and RBML are members of the Editorial Board of ARD.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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