, Volume 78, Issue 16, pp 1705–1715 | Cite as

Tapering and Discontinuation of Biologics in Patients with Psoriatic Arthritis with Low Disease Activity

  • Weiyu Ye
  • Laura J. Tucker
  • Laura C. Coates
Review Article


The introduction of biologic disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (bMDARDs) have revolutionised the treatment of psoriatic arthritis (PsA). This combined with a ‘treat-to-target’ approach, means that achieving remission is increasingly possible. In patients with well-controlled PsA, there is little consensus on whether bDMARDs should be continued, tapered or discontinued altogether. Tapering or discontinuation of bDMARDs could offer significant financial savings and minimise patient burden and unwanted drug-related side effects. However, there is a risk of loss of remission. The primary focus of this paper is to review the current evidence on bDMARD tapering and discontinuation in PsA. We explore the criteria employed by studies to define patients eligible for bDMARD tapering or discontinuation and the process by which this occurs. We also review the outcomes of bDMARD tapering and discontinuation, the predictors, and the likelihood of restoring remission following relapse. To date, bDMARD tapering seems to be feasible and safe in patients with PsA who are in remission or with low disease activity. Lower disease activity prior to tapering seems to increase the likelihood of successful bDMARD tapering. In contrast, discontinuing bDMARDs appears to carry a substantial risk of loss of remission. Those with higher disease activity at time of tumour necrosis factor inhibitors discontinuation, current smokers, male sex, increased skin involvement, and synovial hypertrophy seen on ultrasound prior to discontinuation are at greater risk of losing remission post-bDMARD discontinuation. In those who lose remission, reinstating the standard dose of bDMARD appears to be effective in restoring remission.


Compliance with Ethical Standards


Weiyu Ye is an academic foundation trainee. Laura J Tucker is funded by the Norman Collisson Foundation as a Clinical Research Fellow. Laura C Coates is funded by a National Institute for Health Research Clinician Scientist award. The research was supported by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Oxford Biomedical Research Centre (BRC). The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.

Conflict of interest

Laura C Coates has received research funding and/or honoraria from Abbvie, Amgen, BMS, Celgene, Galapagos, Janssen, Lilly, MSD, Novartis, Pfizer, Prothena and UCB. Weiyu Ye and Laura J Tucker have no conflicts of interest to disclose.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Room 3A31, The Cairns Library IT Corridor, Level 3, John Radcliffe Hospital (Main Hospital)Oxford University Clinical Academic Graduate School, University of OxfordOxfordUK
  2. 2.Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal SciencesUniversity of OxfordOxfordUK

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