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Question re different name for meds

Hi only diagnosed July so relatively new to this. My rhuemy has started me on, what I believe is a DMRAD, Hydroychloroquine. At first he said he would put me on Methotrexate, but after my scans came back he decided on Hydroxy, didn't discuss why change in treatment.

I see a lot of abbreviations i.e. anti tnf, biologics and DMRDs. Which is what and what do they do differently. Would love to understand.


Babs x

11 Replies

NRAS has good information on the drug treatments here

But basically the traditional drugs are known as DMARDs (disease modifying drugs) and are Methotrexate, Sulphasalazine (aka Salazine), hydroxychloroquine (aka Plaquenil & Quinoric), Lefluomide and a couple of others. The way some of them work is not actually fully understood, but work they do. Sometimes by directly suppressing your over active immune system (MTX), sometimes by a kind of antibiotic effect (sulpha), and hydroxy is an anti-malarial (!).

The newer drugs, the biologics, are also disease modifiers but aren't really known as such. They each work on a tiny, tiny process of your immune system and are divided into those that work on the anti-tutor necrosis factor (anti-tnfs), Interleueken 6, B cells and T cells. You are generally started on one of the anti-tnfs, and if you look at the NRAS info it will tell you which are which.

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Thank you for such a helpful response. Just this last week been put on 400mg of hydroxyl (no side effects fingers & toes crossed!).


Me too! I started on Monday, same dose. Also no side effects so far... :)


Hi babs,

I'm on Hydroxychloroquine now too, (as well as MTX) and so far so good, no side effects at all. I have been fine on MTX too. I was so sure i was going to go bald, i was obsessed with it, but nope. I have been so lucky I half thought I might get away with no side effects on steroids, but no luck, I look like a chipmunk and have gained 10lb in 3 weeks!

Hydroxychloroquine they say is one of the best tolerated and safest of all the DMARDs and if you get remission from hydroxychloroquine you are on the easiest to manage drugs, no monthly bloods, no ban on a glass of wine, no photosensitivity.

I think it makes good sense if your joints werent too bad on USS to choose this and keep the harsher more disruptive drugs in the arsenal for later. Hope it works well fo r you xx


Thanks Mirren, was supposed to start on methotrexate but after my scans, started me on Hydroxy. I to have been fortunate with side effects so far (only been taking 400mg for 1 week).

My hair is coming out in clumps anyway (not going bald, I think its just the condition). I to have the moon face and a spare tyre round my middle from the pred. Before diagnosed was anorexic (not through choice) 5st, now 7st. Everybody tells me I look well for it but my so called loved ones call me "the hamster" So nice of them to give me support.

I note from your profile that you are in the NW. I'm in Rochdale. Anywhere near you?

Nice chatting. Take care Babs x

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This list isn't exhaustive but it may help

DMARDs (Disease-Modifying AntiRheumatic Drugs)

Methotrexate (MTX

Hydroxychloroquine (HCQ)

Leflunomide (LEF)

Sulfasalazine (SSZ) - also spelled Sulphasalazine

Azathioprine (AZA)

Cyclosporine (CSA)

The last two aren't actually DMARDs but are less frequently (I believe) used as an alternative to DMARDs.

The names & groups of the following may be helpful

Anti-TNF's (Anti-Tumour Necrosis Factor)

Humira (adalimumab)

Cimzia (certolizumab pegol)

Enbrel (etanercept)

Simpson (golimumab)

Remicade (infliximab)


RoActemra (tocilizumab)

Mabthera (rituximab)

Orencia (abatacept)

It's normal to use generic names in the instance of DMARDs as these meds have been around some time & once there's expiration of the patent of a drug it's able to be made by different manufacturers under different brand names. It helpful to our overseas members particularly as alternative brand names apply in different countries & vice versa. Anti-TNF & Biologic names aren't generally abbreviated. Rather than explaining what each category of drug is these links will explain

I think I've got all the names correct. Lots of reading for you to do but I hope it helps!


WOW, looks like I've got some reading up to do. Thank you for the comprehensive and very informative response. Babs x


I was going to suggest that we should have a list of popular acronyms. I wish we could 'sticky' things on here.


Hi Crashdoll. I agree, maybe admin could do something for us? Babs x


I used stickies on Apple Mac, they were great. Must see if I can get something similar on this.


Hi all,

In case anyone wants clarification on all the different types of RA medications, as otheres have said, there's a good summary on the NRAS website and particularly in our 'Newly Diagnosed' and 'Managing Well' booklets. You can also find a glossary of RA-related terms in our 'RAise it' publications. These and more can be found on the website here:

You may also have seen that Victoria has recently pinned a post introducing NRAS and explaining the information/services we can provide to the menu on the right hand side (along with the forum guidelines etc). Hopefully this will be helpful to both new, and current, users of the HU community.

Best wishes



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