Advances in rheumatoid arthritis

Graeme Jones, Peter Nash and Stephen Hall
Med J Aust 2017; 206 (5): 221-224. || doi: 10.5694/mja16.01287


  • There are now eight approved biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (bDMARDs), two biosimilars and one targeted synthetic DMARD in Australia with a number of new products and biosimilars in the pipeline.
  • bDMARDs have excellent efficacy, especially when combined with traditional DMARDs, and a well characterised but manageable safety profile.
  • These expanded therapeutic options have revolutionised patient care and made remission (including drug free remission) a realistic goal.
  • Evidence of a “window of opportunity” that changes the long term phenotype of the disease has been well established, so therapy should be commenced as early as possible in the disease process and a shared care model between general practitioner and rheumatologist provides the best outcomes.
  • While there is no cure for rheumatoid arthritis, treatment has improved to the point where many patients can achieve a normal quality of life.

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  • Graeme Jones1
  • Peter Nash2
  • Stephen Hall3

  • 1 Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania, Hobart, TAS
  • 2 Coast Joint Care, Maroochydore, QLD
  • 3 Cabrini Medical Centre, Malvern, VIC


Competing interests:

Graeme Jones receives funds from the National Health and Medical Research Council and is a speaker, consultant or clinical triallist for the following companies that make biological agentsSanofi-Aventis, AbbVie, Janssen, Pfizer, Roche, Eli Lilly, Amgen, Bristol–Myers Squibb and UCB. Peter Nash has received grants for research and clinical trials and honoraria for advice and lectures from AbbVie, Amgen, Bristol–Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Janssen, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, Roche, Sanofi-Aventis and UCB. Stephen Hall has received grants for research and clinical trials and honoraria for advice and lectures from AbbVie, Bristol–Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly, Janssen, Merck, Novartis, Pfizer, Roche and UCB.

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