Initial high-dose prednisolone combination therapy using COBRA and COBRA-light in early rheumatoid arthritis.

Research paper by Linda A LA Rasch, Lilian H D LH van Tuyl, Willem F WF Lems, Maarten M Boers

Indexed on: 18 Sep '14Published on: 18 Sep '14Published in: Neuroimmunomodulation


Treatment with initial high-dose prednisolone and a combination of methotrexate (MTX) and sulfasalazine (SSZ) according to the COBRA regimen (Dutch acronym for combinatietherapie bij reumatoide artritis, 'combination therapy for rheumatoid arthritis'), has repeatedly been demonstrated to be very effective in early rheumatoid arthritis (RA). COBRA combination therapy is superior to initial monotherapy of SSZ and MTX, is also associated with a good long-term outcome, is as safe as other treatment regimes, and performs as well as the combination of high-dose MTX and the tumor necrosis factor antagonist infliximab. A pilot study with an intensified version of the COBRA combination therapy showed that strict monitoring and aggressive treatment intensification based on the Disease Activity Score can result in a remission rate of 90% in patients with active early RA. Also, the first results indicate that an attenuated variation on COBRA combination therapy, called 'COBRA-light', is effective in decreasing disease activity and is generally well tolerated. Based on these results, we conclude that initial high-dose prednisolone in combination with MTX and SSZ could or should be the first choice in early active RA since it is effective and safe, and the cost price of the drugs is low.

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