VA study finds less costly treatments are as effective for rheumatoid arthritis patients

Jun 17, 2013

A new study led by the VA of Nebraska-western Iowa found that more expensive drug therapies for rheumatoid arthritis don’t necessarily work better than generic ones.

The study involved 350 patients at 16 VA medical centers, 12 institutions studying rheumatoid arthritis, and eight hospitals in Canada. It was a double-blind study, meaning neither the researchers nor the patients knew who was getting the more expensive, biological medications, or less costly oral ones.

Dr. Ted Michaels, co-author of the study, says their hypothesis was that the less costly medications would be as effective as the newer, more expensive ones. 

Dr. Michaels says the study has significant implications for both patients and the health care industry. He says rheumatoid arthritis is a major cause of disability, and the effectiveness of less-expensive treatment will save both patients and the medical system money.

The study is published in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine.