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GPs told statins probably beneficial in RA

GPs could start prescribing statins for rheumatoid arthritis if results from a Government-funded study showing the drugs 'significantly' reduced inflammation and severity of symptoms are confirmed in larger studies, experts have suggested.

Researchers claimed the results were the first to show statins had a beneficial effect in treating rheumatoid arthritis and said the drugs should be a 'major component' of future strategies to treat this group.

GP experts said all patients with rheumatoid arthritis should be put on statins anyway because they had a risk of cardiovascular disease similar to patients with type 2 diabetes.

The study, funded by the Scottish Executive, randomis-ed 116 patients with rheumatoid arthritis to receive 40mg of a statin or a placebo for six months in addition to their normal medication. The severity of their arthritis was measured before and after treatment along with inflammation markers, including C-reactive protein, in the blood.

The results, which appeared on the Scottish Executive website last week, showed the arthritis symptom severity score improved 'significantly' in the statin group but not in the control group.

Levels of C-reactive protein and other inflammatory markers were significantly reduced in the statin group compared with the control group.

Study lead Professor Iain McInnes, professor of rheum-atology at the University of Glasgow, said: 'This study demonstrates for the first

time that statins have useful

inflammatory properties in

the context of a disease

associated with high-grade


Dr George Kitas, consultant rheumatologist and clinical senior lecturer at Dudley Group Hospital in the West Midlands, said statins 'potentially' had a beneficial role in treating patients with rheumatoid arthritis.

He said 55 per cent of RA patients died from cardiovascular disease so many of these patients were already on a statin, but long-term trials were needed.

Dr Graham Davenport, a GP in Nantwich, Cheshire, and chair of the Primary Care Rheumatology Society, said: 'This is a key areas for GPs ­ statins have tremendous potential.'

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