Rheumatoid arthritis treatments for seniors called 'unacceptable'

Share this content:
More than one-third of 93,000 Medicare managed care enrollees who received care for rheumatoid arthritis in recent years did not receive recommended drugs, according to researchers. In addition, the quality of drug treatments varied among geographic areas, socio-economic groups and health plans. Study results appeared in Wednesday's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Stanford University lead researcher Gabriela Schmajuk, M.D., M.S., and colleagues called disparities in the administration of so-called disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARD) “unacceptable.” They found that study subjects 85 years and older received needed drugs in dramatically fewer instances than those in the 65-69 age group.

Others less likely to be given DMARD were blacks, men, people living in poorer areas, and residents in the Middle and South Atlantic regions. Patients in for-profit health plans were given DMARD at a 4% lower rate than those in nonprofit plans, researchers added.