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Aug 30, 2014 05:46 AM EDT

Most Patients Fail To Take Medication for Rheumatoid Arthritis, Study

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Majority of patients suffering from severe rheumatoid arthritis fail to take expensive prescribed medication, according to a new study led by the University of Manchester.

For the study, the researchers collected data of 286 patients who had rheumatoid arthritis for seven years and attended 60 rheumatology clinics across the UK between 2008 and 2012.

The researchers found that, 27 percent of the patients failed to adhere to anti-TNF therapies in the first six months. However, whether the patient's non-adherence was deliberate or accidental, has not been determined.

Rheumatoid arthritis, affecting around 400,000 people in the UK, causes inflammation in the joints and painful immobility in fingers, feet, ankles and wrist. The anti-TNF therapies that block the tumour necrosis factor (TNF) pathway in the inflammatory process approximately costs between $13,300 (£8,000) and $20,000 (£12,000) a year per patient.

Adherence to the medication is defined as the dose taken on the day agreed with a health professional. The researchers said that most of the patients with this chronic disease are expected remain on these biologic therapies for several years. Failure to take the drug can further worsen patient's disease.

"If patients do not take their medication as prescribed it is likely to have a significant effect on whether they respond to therapy and could mean that their condition deteriorates more quickly affecting their quality of life. Non-adherence is also a waste of scarce healthcare resources and something that needs to be addressed," Dr Kimme Hyrich, reader in rheumatology and honorary consultant at Manchester Royal Infirmary said in a statement.

Further research will be conducted to determine the reason for their non-adherence to the prescribed medication.

"Anti-TNF drugs have transformed the lives of a substantial number of patients with rheumatoid arthritis and related disorders. The fact that a considerable proportion of patients are missing doses of these very expensive agents is worrying, as clearly their effectiveness would be reduced," Professor Alan Silman, medical director of Arthritis Research UK, said.

Their results were published August 28 2014 in the journal Rheumatology.

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