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Methotrexate and other disease modifying drugs

Disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are so called because they reduce the effects of long term inflammation in arthritis and other inflammatory diseases.

How long do they take to work?

It takes between 4 and 12 weeks for these drugs to begin to work and a full effect may not be seen for over 6 months. We may use steroids to help in the short term.

In many cases they cause remission (freedom from all symptoms).

They are widely used by many specialities. In rheumatology we use them to treat:

  • Arthritis
  • Uveitis
  • Systemic lupus erythematosis (SLE)
  • Juvenile dermatomyositis (JDM)
  • Vasculitis
  • Periodic fevers
  • Other connective tissue diseases

What precautions are taken?

The medication can sometimes have an effect on your blood count and your liver, so you will have regular blood tests to monitor this.

It is also important that patients using these drugs:

  • Do not have live vaccinations
  • Let us know if there has been contact with chicken pox - call our advice line

What DMARDs do we use?

Current disease modifying drugs include DMARDS and Biological therapies.

Conventional DMARDS

  • Methotrexate
  • Azathioprine
  • Hydroxychloroquine
  • Mycofenolate
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Anti-TNF and other biologic therapies
  • Leflunomide

Biological therapies

Biological therapies are newer drugs that have been developed over recent years. They target individual molecules that are known to be important in diseases that cause inflammation. They tend to work more quickly than conventional DMARDS.

For more information on DMARDS and biological therapies click on the link below:

If you have any questions about your medication contact our advice line.