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30-05-2018 | Rheumatoid arthritis | Article

Treatment Patterns of Newly Diagnosed Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients from a Commercially Insured Population

Rheumatology and Therapy

Authors: David M. Kern, Lawrence Chang, Kalyani Sonawane, Cynthia J. Larmore, Natalie N. Boytsov, Ralph A. Quimbo, Joseph Singer, John T. Hinton, Sze-jung Wu, Andre B. Araujo

Publisher: Springer Healthcare



To describe treatment patterns in newly diagnosed rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients in a large, nationally representative managed-care database.


Newly diagnosed RA patients were identified from 07/01/2006–08/31/2014. Patients had ≥ 1 RA diagnosis by a rheumatologist, or ≥ 2 non-rheumatologist RA diagnoses ≥ 30 days apart, or RA diagnosis followed by a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) prescription fill within 1 year. Patients were ≥ 18 years old at index (earliest date fulfilling diagnostic criteria) and had ≥ 6 and 12 months of pre- and post-index health plan enrollment, respectively. Patterns of DMARD treatment, including conventional synthetic DMARDs (csDMARD), tumor necrosis factor inhibitors (TNFi), non-TNFi, and Janus kinase inhibitors (JAKi), were captured during follow-up.


Of the 63,101 RA patients identified, 73% were female; mean age was 57 years. During an average of 3.5 ± 2.1 years of follow-up, 45% of patients never received a DMARD, 52% received a csDMARD (94 ± 298 mean ± SD days from index), 16% a TNFi (315 ± 448 days), 4% a non-TNFi (757 ± 660 days), and < 1% a JAKi. Among DMARD recipients, the most common treatment patterns were: receiving csDMARDs only (68%), adding a TNFi as second-line therapy after initiation of a csDMARD (12%), and receiving only a TNFi (6%) during follow-up. Among those not on DMARDs, the all-cause usage of an opioid was 56% and 19% had chronic opioid use (≥ 180 days supplied).


Despite American College of Rheumatology recommendations for DMARD treatment of RA, nearly half of newly diagnosed RA patients received no DMARD therapy during follow-up. These data identify a treatment gap in RA management.


Eli Lilly & Company.

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