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December 1959

Steroids in Rheumatoid ArthritisA Challenge to the Internist

Author Affiliations


Division of Arthritis, Henry Ford Hospital.

AMA Arch Intern Med. 1959;104(6):949-958. doi:10.1001/archinte.1959.00270120105014

The remarkable suppressive effect of adrenocortical steroids on symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis has led many patients and physicians to rely solely on these preparations. This course, fraught with dangers, is in many instances more threatening than the disease itself. Some of these hazards were recognized in the preliminary report of Hench and associates.1 Two brief quotations from their original contribution seem especially pertinent after the interval of 10 years. "The rarity of these compounds presently and in the immediate future, and the limited scope of our preliminary data (especially regarding prolonged administration) make inappropriate now the use of the term 'treatment' except in an investigative sense. This paper is presented, not as a clinicotherapeutic report, but as a study of certain physiologic effects which these new hormones exert on rheumatoid arthritis.... Much more experience is needed before we shall know how effective or safe the prolonged administration of Compound

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