Accessibility to biologics and its impact on disease activity and quality of life in patients with rheumatoid arthritis in Kuwait

Al-Herz, Adeeba and Saleh, Khuloud and Al-Awadhi, Adel and Al-Kandari, Waleed and Hasan, Eman and Ghanem, Aqeel and Hussain, Mohammed and Ali, Yaser and Nahar, Ebrahim and Alenizi, Ahmad and Hayat, Sawsan and Abutiban, Fatemah and Aldei, Ali and Alhajeri, Hebah and Alhadhood, Naser and Bahbahani, Husain and Tarakmeh, Hoda and Mokaddem, Khaled and Khadrawy, Ahmad and Fazal, Ammad and Zaman, Agaz and Mazloum, Ghada and Bartella, Youssef and Hamed, Sally and Alsouk, Ramia and Al-Saber, Ahmed (2020) Accessibility to biologics and its impact on disease activity and quality of life in patients with rheumatoid arthritis in Kuwait. Clinical Rheumatology. ISSN 1434-9949 (

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Objective: Biologics are indicated in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in case of persistent high disease activity despite conventional disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (cDMARDs) or patients with contraindications to cDMARDs or poor prognostic factors. The purpose of this study was to compare the prescription rates of biologics in Kuwaiti and non-Kuwaiti patients and to assess whether this had an impact on disease activity and quality of life in RA patients. Methods: Data were extracted from the Kuwait Registry for Rheumatic Diseases. Adult patients who satisfied the ACR classification criteria for RA from four major hospitals in Kuwait were evaluated from February 2013 through May 2018. The treatment agents, disease activity, and quality of life of Kuwaiti patients were compared with non-Kuwaiti patients. Results: A total of 1651 RA patients were included; 806 (48.8%) were Kuwaiti patients. Among Kuwaiti patients, 62.5% were on biologic drugs in comparison with 14% of non-Kuwaiti patients. In comparison with non-Kuwaiti patients, Kuwaiti patients had significantly lower numbers of swollen joints (p < 0.001) and disease activity score-28 scores (p = 0.02) and less steroid use (p < 0.001) yet a significantly higher health assessment questionnaire-disability index (p < 0.001). Regression analysis showed that DAS-28 scores were significantly associated with the treatment type (p < 0.001) and that nationality was significantly predictive of the treatment type (p < 0.001). Conclusion: In the setting of easy accessibility to treatment for Kuwaiti patients, biologics were prescribed by rheumatologists at a higher rate than for non-Kuwaitis. This may explain the lower disease activity and the lower rate of steroid use in Kuwaiti patients than non-Kuwaitis. Key points: • Significant discrepancies in the rates of prescribing biologic therapies between KP and NKP in Kuwait were observed. • Several treatment outcomes were significantly better in the KP group than in the NKP group even after adjustment of confounding factors. • The poor access to biologic therapies was suggested to limit the effectiveness of RA treatments in the NKP group.