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Decreased comorbidities in rheumatoid arthritis patients treated with a biologic agent
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  • Chung-Yuan Hsu ,
  • Chun Yu Lin,
  • Yu-Jih Su,
  • Ho-Chang Kuo
Chung-Yuan Hsu
Chang Gung Memorial Hospital Kaohsiung Branch
Chun Yu Lin
National Cheng Kung University
Yu-Jih Su
Chang Gung Memorial Hospital Kaohsiung Branch
Author Profile
Ho-Chang Kuo
Chang Gung Memorial Hospital Kaohsiung Branch
Author Profile


Objective. Biologics have been linked to both anti-autoimmune and anti-inflammatory mechanisms. We examine the long-term effects of biologics on rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients in a real-world analytic cohort study using a nationwide database. Design. We designed a cohort study using the National Health Insurance Research Database in Taiwan between 1997 and 2010. Methods. Based on biologics and other anti-rheumatic agent prescriptions, we divided all patients into either the biologics group or the non-biologics group. The outcomes were the incidence rate of each comorbidity and the hazard ratio of each comorbidity between those using biologics and those not. We followed patients from the index date to the date on which the database ended. Results. In total, 19,681 patients were eligible for analysis in this study. During an average follow-up of 15 years, the event rates of each comorbidity differed significantly between the users and non-users of biologics with regard to cardiovascular comorbidity, metabolic comorbidity, rheumatologic comorbidity, and the miscellaneous comorbidity (all p<0.05). The usage of biologic agents in RA patients reduced the HR of cardiovascular comorbidities by 18%, metabolic comorbidities by 17%, rheumatology comorbidities by 36%, and miscellaneous comorbidities by 15% compared to those patients who did not use biologics. Oncology comorbidities and infection comorbidities were not affected by treatment with biologics (p>0.05). Conclusions. Biologics may have benefits beyond arthritis control with regard to reducing real-world comorbidities.