Wiener klinische Wochenschrift

, Volume 130, Issue 7–8, pp 230–237 | Cite as

Use of biological disease modifying antirheumatic drugs in rheumatoid arthritis in Austria from 2008 to 2011

A retrospective analysis of 72% of the population
  • Tanja A. Stamm
  • Berthold Reichardt
  • Jochen Zwerina
  • Valentin Ritschl
  • Valerie Nell-Duxneuner
original article



Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is the most prevalent chronic inflammatory joint disease. On a national level in Austria, there are currently no data available on how often and which biological disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (bDMARDs) are prescribed in patients with RA. The aim of the present study was to explore prescription patterns of bDMARDs in RA in Austria with a focus on drug survival.


A retrospective data analysis of bDMARD courses of individual patients with RA that were extracted from the databases of nine Austrian health insurance funds covering 6.1 million (72%) insured people in a 4-year observation period from January 2008 to December 2011. Only patients with first prescriptions of bDMARDs were included. All patients with diagnoses other than RA were excluded.


A total of 2906 first prescriptions of bDMARDs were included in the present analysis and 19.35% of RA patients were on bDMARDs in Austria taking into account a prevalence of RA of 0.5%. Tocilizumab showed the longest drug survival after 1 year (73.2%), followed by abatacept which had the longest drug survival after 2 (68.2%) and 3 years (65.2%). The most frequent second bDMARDs switched to were adalimumab (n = 109, 26%), tocilizumab (n = 83, 20%) and etanercept (n = 82, 20%) and 37% of biological DMARDs were prescribed as monotherapy (ranging from 33% with infliximab to 46% with tocilizumab).


Our analysis is based on the largest health care database available in Austria. Tocilizumab and abatacept showed the longest drug survival. Adalimumab, tocilizumab and etanercept were the most frequent DMARDs switched to. Of interest was the high number of bDMARD monotherapies.


Rheumatology Arthritis Epidemiology Biological DMARDs Drug survival 



We thank the Austrian health insurance funds for provision of the data: BGKK, BVA, KGKK, NÖGKK, StGKK, SVA, SVB, VGKK, and WGKK.

Conflict of interest

T.A. Stamm, B. Reichardt, J. Zwerina, V. Ritschl, and V. Nell-Duxneuner declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Austria, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tanja A. Stamm
    • 1
  • Berthold Reichardt
    • 2
  • Jochen Zwerina
    • 3
  • Valentin Ritschl
    • 1
  • Valerie Nell-Duxneuner
    • 4
  1. 1.Section for Outcomes Research, Center for Medical Statistics, Informatics, and Intelligent SystemsMedical University of ViennaViennaAustria
  2. 2.Burgenländische GebietskrankenkasseEisenstadtAustria
  3. 3.Ludwig Boltzmann-Institute of Osteology at Hanusch-Hospital of WGKK & Trauma Centre Meidling of AUVA, 1st Medical DepartmentHanusch-HospitalViennaAustria
  4. 4.Ludwig Boltzmann Department for Epidemiology of Rheumatic Diseases at Klinikum Peterhof of NOEGKKNiederösterreichische GebietskrankenkasseBadenAustria

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