Clinical, Radiologic, and Functional Outcomes Following Methotrexate Withdrawal in Etanercept-Treated Patients with Active Early Rheumatoid Arthritis: A Subanalysis of COMET Year 2 by Week 52 DAS28 Status

The Open Rheumatology Journal 07 July 2021 RESEARCH ARTICLE DOI: 10.2174/1874312902115010031



This post-hoc analysis explored Methotrexate (MTX) withdrawal on clinical, radiographic, and functional outcomes in patients with early rheumatoid arthritis who previously received 52 weeks of Etanercept (ETN) + MTX treatment in the COMET study.


Response at week 104 was analyzed based on the attainment of remission (28-joint disease activity score [DAS28] <2.6; Boolean); low disease activity (LDA; 2.6 ≤DAS28 ≤3.2); normal Health Assessment Questionnaire-Disability Index (HAQ-DI) score (≤0.5); or radiographic non-progression (change in modified Total Sharp Score ≤0.5).


Of 208 patients with baseline DAS28 scores at week 52, 105 received ETN + MTX and 103 received ETN over weeks 52-104 (Period 2). At week 104, rates of LDA (70% vs 67%), remission (59% vs 52%), and normal HAQ-DI (63% vs 61%) were similar in both arms; week 52 responders also had a higher response rate at week 104 irrespective of treatment during Period 2. Overall rates of radiographic non-progression were higher for ETN + MTX (90%) vs ETN (74%) at week 104; week 52 non-responders in the Period 2 ETN + MTX arm had a 21-27% higher rate vs ETN, while the treatment difference was 11-12% for week 52 responders.


The data suggest that for responders to ETN + MTX at week 52, MTX may be safely withdrawn. For non-responders where de-escalation would not be considered, the continuation of the combination is advisable. Radiological outcome was numerically worse, but of uncertain clinical significance.

Keywords: De-escalation, Etanercept, Methotrexate, Remission, Rheumatoid arthritis, Tumor necrosis factor.
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