Clinical remission is the ultimate therapeutic goal in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Although clinical trials have proven this to be a realistic goal, the concept of targeting at remission has not yet been implemented. The objective of this study was to develop, implement, and evaluate a treat-to-target strategy aimed at achieving remission in very early RA in daily clinical practice.
Five hundred thirty-four patients with a clinical diagnosis of very early RA were included in the Dutch Rheumatoid Arthritis Monitoring remission induction cohort study. Treatment adjustments were based on the Disease Activity Score in 28 joints (DAS28), aiming at a DAS28 of <2.6 (methotrexate, followed by the addition of sulfasalazine, and exchange of sulfasalazine with biologic agents in case of persistent disease activity). The primary outcome was disease activity after 6 months and 12 months of followup, according to the DAS28, the European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) response criteria, and the modified American College of Rheumatology (ACR) remission criteria. Secondary outcomes were time to first DAS28 remission and outcome of radiography.
Six-month and 12-month followup data were available for 491 and 389 patients, respectively. At 6 months, 47.0% of patients achieved DAS28 remission, 57.6% had a good EULAR response, and 32.0% satisfied the ACR remission criteria. At 12 months, 58.1% of patients achieved DAS28 remission, 67.9% had a good EULAR response, and 46.4% achieved ACR remission. The median time to first remission was 25.3 weeks (interquartile range 13.0–52.0). The majority of patients did not have clinically relevant radiographic progression after 1 year.
The successful implementation of this treat-to-target strategy aiming at remission demonstrated that achieving remission in daily clinical practice is a realistic goal.