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EULAR Congress 2021

Priscilla Lynch provides a round-up of some of the most topical research presented at this year’s EULAR Congress, which took place virtually from 2-5 June

Older patients not at increased risk of serious infections with new disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs compared to conventional synthetic treatments

The results of a new study presented at the 2021 EULAR Congress suggest that treatment with new classes of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs is not associated with an increased risk of serious infection in older patients above 70 years of age. Strangfeld and colleagues shared new data from RABBIT, a prospective, observational cohort study in Germany, assessing the effects of these medications on the risk of serious infections in elderly people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Patients with RA are enrolled in RABBIT when they start a new DMARD after failing at least one conventional synthetic treatment (csDMARD).

This analysis included 2,274 people over the age of 70. In total, 626 serious infections were observed in 425 of these people. Adjusted for those differences, serious infections were less likely in patients receiving biologic disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (bDMARDs) or Janus kinase inhibitors (JAKi) compared to csDMARDs, but this was not statistically significant.

Associations with an increased risk of serious infections were seen for glucocorticoid use, higher disease activity, and having another underlying disease, such as chronic pulmonary or kidney disease, or diabetes. The authors also found that better physical capacity was associated with a decreased risk of having a serious infection. Overall, the results suggest that treatment with these new classes of drugs is not associated with an increased risk of serious infection in elderly RA patients above 70 years of age.

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