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Rheumatoid ArthritisRA TreatmentRA Medication

Let's Talk About Rheumatoid Arthritis Medication

Easing your pain and reducing symptoms starts with finding the right combination of therapies that work for you.

    Our Pro PanelRheumatoid Arthritis

    We went to some of the nation's top RA experts to bring you the most scientific and up-to-date information possible.

    Sandeep Agarwal, M.D., Ph.D.

    Sandeep Agarwal, M.D., Ph.D.Associate Professor and Section Chief of Immunology, Allergy, and Rheumatology

    Baylor College of Medicine
    Houston, TX
    Janelle Laughlin, M.D.

    Janelle Laughlin, M.D.Rheumatologist

    University of Colorado Health Longmont Clinic
    Longmont, CO
    Kaleb Michaud, Ph.D.

    Kaleb Michaud, Ph.D.Associate Professor of Internal Medicine in the Division of Rheumatology

    University of Nebraska Medical Center
    Omaha, NE

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    Frequently Asked QuestionsRA & Medication

    Can you drink alcohol while on RA medication?

    Because some RA medications (including methotrexate, leflunomide, sulfasalazine, and tocilizumab) can be hard on your liver, your doctor may ask you to limit or stop drinking while you are taking them.

    Isn’t methotrexate a cancer drug?

    Yes, though in doses about 10 times higher than what’s prescribed for RA. In fact, methotrexate was first developed as a cancer drug in the 1940s, though it’s not used for cancer as often as it used to be.

    Do biologics cause cancer?

    Probably not. Early research linked some RA meds (in particular, biologics) with an increased cancer risk. But RA itself increases the risk of lymphomas and lung cancer, and more recent evidence shows that biologics do not add to that risk.

    Is drug-free remission possible?

    In some patients, yes—but only for a little while. If you achieve remission for long enough (how long is up to you and your doctor), you may be able to reduce or stop medications for a while. But without treatment, your symptoms will likely return within months.

    Jerilyn Covert

    Jerilyn Covert

    Jerilyn Covert is a writer, editor, and copy editor with 15 years of publishing experience.