New Study Presented at Medical Meeting Suggests Stopping Immunosuppressants May be Possible for Stable Patients

Source: Medical Xpress

A new study presented at the European League Against Rheumatism Annual Congress (EULAR 2014) showed that, for the majority of lupus patients who are in remission, it is possible to successfully stop immunosuppressant therapy without triggering a flare of their disease. Within two years, it was possible to stop the immunosuppressant in about 70% of clinically stable patients. Half were successful within three years, and this proportion remained stable for up to five years…

http://medicalxpress.com/openx/www/delivery/lg.php?bannerid=373&campaignid=196&zoneid=79&loc=1&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fmedicalxpress.com%2Fnews%2F2014-06-guidance-immunosuppressants-lupus-patients.html&cb=5c853ef617Being able to stop long-term immunosuppressant therapy in a lupus patient without inducing a relapse is an important treatment goal because of the potential side effects of these drugs, including the increased risk of infection and cancer…

Lupus patients who develop serious or life-threatening problems such as kidney inflammation, lung or heart involvement, and central nervous system symptoms need more aggressive treatment, including high-dose corticosteroids such as prednisone, and immunosuppressants such as azathioprine (AZA), methotrexate (MTX) and mycophenolate mofetil (MMF).

"Until now, information on whether and how immunosuppressant therapy might be stopped in lupus patients after achieving low disease activity or remission has been limited," said lead author Dr Zahi Touma, Assistant Professor of Medicine, Clinician-Scientist, Division Of Rheumatology, University of Toronto, Canada.

"The results from our study provide useful guidance on how best to stop the immunosuppressant without triggering a flare. For example, patients who discontinued their immunosuppressant more slowly were less likely to flare within two years," Dr Touma explained. "Those lupus patients who were serologically active at the time the immunosuppressant was stopped were much more likely to flare on follow-up visits," he added.