6 reasons why I stop Methotrexate

6 reasons why I stop Methotrexate

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MethotrexateBy Dr Irwin Lim, Rheumatologist

If you've been a reader of this blog, you'll know that Methotrexate is a go-to drug for rheumatologists (read the reasons why).

It's considered safe, in the hands of rheumatologists and with monitoring.

It's considered the cornerstone of effective treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, it's a standard medication for psoriatic arthritis, and we often use it for it's "steroid-sparing" effect (to reduce the need for steroid).

But, not everyone can tolerate it.

It's important patients know this. There are alternatives and I don't expect my patients to accept side effects which are significant to them, or to me.

When I think about it, the reasons/situations I would stop Methotrexate include:

  • Side effects that worry a patient. Such as nausea or hair loss.
  • Serious side effects that worry me. For eg, a rare reaction such as lung irritation/inflammation.
  • Abnormal blood tests. Usually worsening liver function tests over time.
  • Infections. I would normally withhold Methotrexate if there is a significant infection eg a pneumonia, and I would stop the drug permanently if recurrent infections occur.
  • Patient Concern. Some worry so much about the drug, and even though I may not agree with the degree of worry, I don't think it's worth persisting with a medication if a patient is experiencing mental anguish.
  • Inefficacy. There's no point persisting with a therapy that does not seem to be working (except that Methotrexate may be useful in combination with other drugs).

Have you had to stop Methotrexate for any other reason?

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