In a prospective study 88 patients, with rheumatoid arthritis who had stopped taking gold, penicillamine, or levamisole were randomly allocated to one of the alternative drugs and followed up for a minimum of one year. Concurrent studies of the effects of gold, penicillamine, and levamisole prescribed in 123 patients as the first second-line drug were used for comparison. No difference in toxicity or efficacy between primary and secondary use of gold or penicillamine was identified. Variation in the toxicity of levamisole could in part be accounted for by changes in the dose regimen over the four years of study. The length of the treatment-free interval between drugs did not influence subsequent development of toxicity. These results suggest that an adverse reaction to one of the three second-line drugs studied should not prejudice the selection of another
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