Pharmacotherapeutic considerations for systemic rheumatic diseases amid the COVID-19 pandemic: more questions than answers

Chia Siang Kow, Syed Shahzad Hasan

Research output: Contribution to journalComment/debatepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Thus far, associations between the presence of systemic rheumatic disease and an increased risk of novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) acquisition or a worse prognosis from COVID-19 have not been conclusive. It is not known for certain if there is an association between any pharmacological agent used for rheumatologic treatment, including biological and non-biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), and an increased risk of COVID-19 acquisition or adverse outcomes from COVID-19, although these agents have been associated with an overall higher risk of infections. The pharmacological management of patients with a rheumatic disease without COVID-19 should currently follow usual treatment approaches. Individualized approaches to adjusting DMARD regimens in patients with documented COVID-19 seems prudent, with specific attention paid to the severity of the infection. Patients receiving antimalarials (hydroxychloroquine/chloroquine) may continue treatment with these agents. Treatment with sulfasalazine, methotrexate, leflunomide, immunosuppressants and biological agents other than interluekin-6 receptor inhibitors and JAK inhibitors should be stopped or withheld. It should be reasonable to resume DMARD treatment when patients are no longer symptomatic and at least 2 weeks after documentation of COVID-19, although the decision should be individualized, preferably based on infection severity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)518-522
Number of pages5
JournalDrugs and Therapy Perspectives
Issue number11
Early online date16 Aug 2020
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2020


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