Clarithromycin in rheumatoid arthritis: the addition to methotrexate and low-dose methylprednisolone induces a significant additive value—a 24-month single-blind pilot study
OBJECTIVE To evaluate the clinical efficacy, safety, and tolerability of clarithromycin in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS This was a 6-month, monocenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study. A total of 81 patients with early rheumatoid arthritis were treated with either once-daily oral clarithromycin (500 mg) or daily oral placebo for 6 months. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES The primary efficacy variable was the percentage of patients who had a 20% improvement according to American College of Rheumatology (ACR) criteria (an ACR 20 response) at 6-months. Secondary outcome measures were 50% improvement and 70% improvement according to ACR criteria (an ACR 50 response and an ACR 70 response, respectively). RESULTS A significantly greater percentage of patients treated with 500 mg clarithromycin met the ACR 20 response at 6 months compared with patients who received placebo (59 vs. 33%; p < 0.001). Greater percentages of patients treated with 500 mg clarithromycin also achieved ACR 50 responses (34 vs. 10%; p < 0.001) and ACR 70 responses (20 vs. 3%; p = 0.003) compared with patients who received placebo, respectively. Clarithromycin was well tolerated. There were no dose-limiting toxic effects. CONCLUSIONS In patients with early active rheumatoid arthritis, treatment with clarithromycin significantly improved the signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. Clarithromycin has been shown to be effective against rheumatoid arthritis.