Decline of Mean Initial Prednisone Dosage From 10.3 to 3.6 mg/day to Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis Between 1980 and 2004 in One Clinical Setting, With Long-Term Effectiveness of Dosages Less Than 5 mg/day
Article first published online: 23 APR 2013
Copyright © 2013 by the American College of Rheumatology
Arthritis Care & Research
Volume 65, Issue 5, pages 729–736, May 2013
How to Cite
Pincus, T., Sokka, T., Castrejón, I. and Cutolo, M. (2013), Decline of Mean Initial Prednisone Dosage From 10.3 to 3.6 mg/day to Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis Between 1980 and 2004 in One Clinical Setting, With Long-Term Effectiveness of Dosages Less Than 5 mg/day. Arthritis Care Res, 65: 729–736. doi: 10.1002/acr.21899
- Issue published online: 23 APR 2013
- Article first published online: 23 APR 2013
- Accepted manuscript online: 30 NOV 2012 03:54PM EST
- Manuscript Accepted: 23 OCT 2012
- Manuscript Received: 16 JUL 2012
- Arthritis Foundation
- Jack C. Massey Foundation
To analyze prednisone treatment from 1980–2004 in 308 patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), including 75 monitored over 4–8 years and 73 monitored over >8 years, for initial dose, long-term doses and effectiveness, and adverse events.
A database of all patients of a single rheumatologist included medications and Multidimensional Health Assessment Questionnaire (MDHAQ) scores at each visit. Proportions of patients whose initial prednisone dosages were >5, 5, or <5 mg/day were computed in 5-year periods: 1980–1984, 1985–1989, 1990–1994, 1995–1999, and 2000–2004. Mean changes in MDHAQ function, pain, and Routine Assessment of Patient Index Data 3 (RAPID3) scores were compared in patients treated with <5 versus ≥5 mg/day of prednisone; scores and adverse events were analyzed in quartiles by treatment duration of ≤1, 1.1–4, 4.1–8, and >8 years.
In the respective 5-year periods, the mean initial prednisone dosages were 10.3, 6.5, 5.1, 4.1, and 3.6 mg/day, with >5 mg/day in 49%, 16%, 7%, 7%, and 3% of patients, 5 mg/day in 51%, 80%, 70%, 26%, and 10% of patients, and <5 mg/day in 0%, 4%, 23%, 67%, and 86% of patients. Most patients received early concomitant methotrexate after 1990, and prednisone <5 mg/day was maintained indefinitely. Patients treated with prednisone ≥5 mg/day had poorer clinical status as baseline and followup. MDHAQ scores improved similarly in patients treated with <5 or ≥5 mg/day. Primary adverse events were skin thinning and bruising. New hypertension, diabetes mellitus, and cataracts occurred in <10% of all patients, and <13% of those treated longer than 8 years.
The data suggest that many patients with RA might be treated effectively with initial and long-term prednisone <5 mg/day, although further research and observational data are needed to characterize more fully effectiveness and safety.