Racial Gap in RA Drug Prescriptions

DMARD use for rheumatoid arthritis less common among African Americans

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) In recent decades, powerful drugs have been made to fight rheumatoid arthritis. Unfortunately, some patients may not be getting the chance to use them.

Researchers have found that African Americans were less likely to be use certain arthritis drugs compared to white patients.

Hispanics, however, were more likely than whites to use these drugs.

"Ask your doctor about all drug options."

DMARD stands for disease-modifying antirheumatic drug. Other arthritis drugs only fight inflammation. Biologic DMARDs, on the other hand, fight the underlying cause of rheumatoid arthritis.

Aniket A. Kawatkar, PhD, of the Southern California Permanente Medical Group, and colleagues wanted to see if there were racial or ethnic differences in the use of DMARDs among patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

They found that African Americans were 53 percent less likely than whites to be prescribed biologic DMARDs.

Hispanics were 36 percent more likely than whites to receive biologic DMARDs.

"I was surprised by the magnitude of these differences," said Dr. Kawatkar in an article in Arthritis Today, a publication of the Arthritis Foundation.

According to Dr. Kawatkar, doctors and policy makers need to make an effort to reduce this gap in access to powerful arthritis drugs.

For their study, the researchers collected data on 5,385 rheumatoid arthritis patients who had received either standard DMARDs (methotrexate, lefluonomide, hydroxychloroquine and sulfasalazine) or biologic DMARDs (adalimumab, etanercept, anakinra and infliximab).

The study was published July 17 in Arthritis Care & Research, a journal of the American College of Rheumatology.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
August 19, 2012
Last Updated:
November 15, 2012