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How do chemical DMARDs work to treat rheumatoid arthritis?

Treatment for rheumatoid arthritis usually begins with the chemical disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) methotrexate or leflunomide. They may be used individually or in combination with other drugs, including other chemical or biologic DMARDs, depending on how active your disease is and how well you respond to treatment.

Other chemical DMARDs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis include sulfasalazine, hydroxychloroquine, minocycline, and azathioprine.

Chemical DMARDs work by interfering with the immune response. Suppressing the immune system keeps it from mistakenly attacking your tissues and bones but also weakens your body's ability to fight bacteria and viruses, a potentially serious side effect.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.