Country economy is a stronger predictor of therapy initiation

Rome, Italy, Friday 18 June 2010: There is significant disparity between ‘richer’ and ‘poorer’ countries in terms of access to biological treatments for rheumatoid arthritis (RA), according to results from a multinational study across four continents presented today at EULAR 2010, the Annual Congress of the European League Against Rheumatism in Rome, Italy. Furthermore, findings from a separate study show that RA patients report the severity of their disease in the same way, irrespective of the country where they live.

Results of a multinational study assessing whether macro-economic differences predict likelihood of treatment with a biologic showed that at the start of the study, RA patients in rich countries were three times more likely to have already received a biologic than those in poor countries (33% vs. 11.6%). Assessing the number of patients who had not received a biologic before the start of the study showed that the disparity between patients in rich and poor countries (20% vs. 14%) continued in the following four to five years.

Results of a second study showed that macro-economic status did not have an impact on RA patients’ perceptions of their disease severity, as measured by several clinical measures collated within the Patient Reported Outcomes (PROs) index. PROs were compared to the DAS measure of disease activity (DAS28) and a significant association for both rich and poor countries was (beta coefficient 0.73 (0.70-0.77) vs. 0.78 (0.73-0.82) respectively) detected. This indicates that, regardless of macro-economic status of the country, patients in the study report disease severity in a consistent way.

“The QUEST-RA study involves researchers and patients from 32 countries worldwide, and is the first of this scale to reveal some interesting findings related to the impact of countries’ macro-economic status on patients’ perceptions of disease, as well as the healthcare options available to them,” said Dr. Tuulikki Sokka, Jyväskylä Central Hospital, Jyväskylä, Finland and lead author of both analyses. “Our study group, QUEST-RA, was put together as a collaborative international study of RA and consequently, it sheds light on the true international variations and related economic factors that affect the treatment of RA across the world.”

Professor Paul Emery, President of EULAR and arc Professor of Rheumatology, Leeds Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Leeds, UK said “The results of these studies have painted a clear picture of the impact that macro-economy of the country has on the treatments available for patients. EULAR is a partnership organisation of people with arthritis and rheumatism in Europe and clinicians, researchers, health professionals and will continue to work for equal access to effective treatments across Europe.”

Study design

The multinational study (SAT0515) assessed 3,394 RA patients (80% female, mean age 57 years) from 18 countries (11 rich, 7 poor) who had 4-5 year follow up data available for review, using the QUEST-RA database which includes patient data from 86 sites in 32 countries.

The second study (SAT0051) utilized all available data from 8,039 patients from the QUEST-RA database, (16 rich countries, 16 poor). PROs including measures to assess HAQ and visual analogue scales for pain (including the Routine Assessment of Patient Index Data3 (RAPID3) and Disease Activity Score (DAS28)) were used to gain feedback direct from the patient on the physical function limitations and experience of pain associated with their condition.

Abstract Numbers: SAT0515 & SAT0051

For further information on this study, or to request an interview with the study lead, please do not hesitate to contact the EULAR congress Press Office on the 1st floor in Hall 5 of the Congress Centre during EULAR 2010 or on:

Email: [email protected]

Rory Berrie: Onsite tel: +44 7901 513 297

Caroline Butt: Onsite tel: +44 7789 270 392

  • The European League Against Rheumatism (EULAR) is the organisation which represents the patient, health professional and scientific societies of rheumatology of all the European nations.
  • In line with The European Union of Medical Specialists (UEMS), EULAR defines rheumatology as including rheumatic diseases of the connective tissue, locomotor and musculoskeletal systems.
  • The aims of EULAR are to stimulate, promote, and support the research, prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of rheumatic diseases. To this end, EULAR fosters excellence in education and research in the field of rheumatology. It promotes the translation of research advances into daily care and fights for the recognition of the needs of people with rheumatic diseases.
  • EULAR 2010 is set to be the biggest rheumatology event in Europe with over 15,000 scientists, physicians, allied health professionals, and related audiences in attendance from over 100 countries. Over the course of the congress, almost 300 oral and more than 1600 poster abstract presentations will be featured, with 300 invited speaker lectures taking place in more than 140 sessions.
  • To find out more about the activities of EULAR, visit: www.eular.org

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