Christmas may have arrived early for some Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) patients: a new report shows that half of patients with early RA achieved disease remission within one year on a new drug treatment.

The treatment, reported at the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), utilized the drug etanercept in combination with the more commonly known methotrexate.

“We have been talking about remission for a long time [for early RA],” said Dr. Paul Emery, professor of rheumatology at the University of Leeds (England) and the man who reported the trial’s findings. “I think we can now say this is a realistic goal.”

The first major trial to use remission as the primary end point, this COMET trial (Combination of Methotrexate and Etanercept in Active Early Rheumatoid Arthritis) compared use of the drug combo versus taking methotrexate alone. A full 50 percent of the combo patients achieved disease remission by week 52 (compared to 28 percent of those just receiving methotrexate).

The study was a randomized, double-blind study that included 542 patients from 22 countries. reports that “all patients were methotrexate naive and had a disease duration of two years or less … about half had received corticosteroids, and 22 percent had previously been treated with a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug [DMARD] other than methotrexate.”

Emery noted that “serious adverse events” were reported by 12 percent of patients in the etanercept+methotrexate combo group, and 13 percent in the other.

For more information on the trial and to read’s entire article, click on the link below.

Article References
Combo Therapy Put Half of Early RA Into Remission: Regimen: etanercept plus methotrexate., site accessed on 12/14/07