Acta Reumatológica Portuguesa - Online First: 2021-04-05
Duration of inactive disease while off disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs seems to influence flare rates in juvenile idiopathic arthritis: an observational retrospective study
ResumoBackground: many Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (JIA) patients reach inactivity while medicated, but there are no guidelines to determine the moment or method for discontinuing medications. We present the flare rates and remission and possible influencing factors after therapy discontinuation in children with JIA. Methods: data was collected from charts of JIA patients (n=70) in remission on medication, who had their drugs withdrawn. Results: Seventy patients fulfilled inclusion criteria and were included for analysis. The mean time of inactive disease on medication until tapering or withdrawal was 15.6±6.7 months; 45 (64.3%) patients remained in remission and 25 (35.7%) flared. There was no difference between groups regarding sex, age, JIA subtype, disease duration, time in remission on medication and scheme of therapy withdrawal. Patients who fulfilled Wallace criteria for remission off medication had lower flare rates than those who did not achieve 12 months of remission after the medication withdrawal (p<0.0001). Patients who used biologic DMARDs plus synthetic DMARDs appeared to flare more (77.8% vs 29.5% respectively, p=0.008) and presented shorter periods of inactivity off medication (15.3±24.7 vs 32.3 ± 31.7 months respectively, p=0.049) compared to those who used only synthetic DMARDs. Conclusion: It is possible that gradual drug tapering is not necessary for JIA patients, but caution must be exerted in those patients using biologic DMARDs, weighing carefully the decision to withdraw medication, due to their higher flare rates and shorter times of inactive disease after the medication withdrawal.