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Rheumatoid arthritis: Management

By Richard Copeland, MPhil, MRPharmS, and Carole Callaghan, MSc, MRPharmS

Tumour necrosis factor inhibitors etanerceptEvidence in support of early and aggressive pharmacological intervention in rheumatoid arthritis continues to be gathered. DMARDs, corticosteroids and biologics are the main drugs in the armoury



Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis has developed substantially over recent years, reducing the likelihood of deformity and disability. Several of the newer biologic medicines, which act against tumour necrosis factor and other specific targets in the inflammatory response, are now approved by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence and/or the Scottish Medicines Consortium. Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs and corticosteroids are also used.

Despite these advances many patients still struggle with the condition because their therapy has not been optimised or because of intolerance to drugs. Pharmacists can help patients manage their medicines, advise on side effects and, with specialist training, perform prescribing and monitoring roles.

Richard Copeland is head of clinical pharmacy services at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Trust.

Carole Callaghan is advanced clinical pharmacist, rheumatology, at Western General Hospital, Edinburgh.


Citation: Clinical Pharmacist URI: 11010239

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