Flares after hydroxychloroquine reduction or discontinuation: results from the Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) inception cohort.
Almeida-Brasil CC., Hanly JG., Urowitz M., Clarke AE., Ruiz-Irastorza G., Gordon C., Ramsey-Goldman R., Petri M., Ginzler EM., Wallace DJ., Bae S-C., Romero-Diaz J., Dooley MA., Peschken C., Isenberg D., Rahman A., Manzi S., Jacobsen S., Lim S., van Vollenhoven RF., Nived O., Jönsen A., Kamen DL., Aranow C., Sanchez-Guerrero J., Gladman DD., Fortin PR., Alarcón GS., Merrill JT., Kalunian K., Ramos-Casals M., Steinsson K., Zoma A., Askanase A., Khamashta MA., Bruce IN., Inanc M., Abrahamowicz M., Bernatsky S.
ObjectivesTo evaluate systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) flares following hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) reduction or discontinuation versus HCQ maintenance.MethodsWe analysed prospective data from the Systemic Lupus International Collaborating Clinics (SLICC) cohort, enrolled from 33 sites within 15 months of SLE diagnosis and followed annually (1999-2019). We evaluated person-time contributed while on the initial HCQ dose ('maintenance'), comparing this with person-time contributed after a first dose reduction, and after a first HCQ discontinuation. We estimated time to first flare, defined as either subsequent need for therapy augmentation, increase of ≥4 points in the SLE Disease Activity Index-2000, or hospitalisation for SLE. We estimated adjusted HRs (aHRs) with 95% CIs associated with reducing/discontinuing HCQ (vs maintenance). We also conducted separate multivariable hazard regressions in each HCQ subcohort to identify factors associated with flare.ResultsWe studied 1460 (90% female) patients initiating HCQ. aHRs for first SLE flare were 1.20 (95% CI 1.04 to 1.38) and 1.56 (95% CI 1.31 to 1.86) for the HCQ reduction and discontinuation groups, respectively, versus HCQ maintenance. Patients with low educational level were at particular risk of flaring after HCQ discontinuation (aHR 1.43, 95% CI 1.09 to 1.87). Prednisone use at time-zero was associated with over 1.5-fold increase in flare risk in all HCQ subcohorts.ConclusionsSLE flare risk was higher after HCQ taper/discontinuation versus HCQ maintenance. Decisions to maintain, reduce or stop HCQ may affect specific subgroups differently, including those on prednisone and/or with low education. Further study of special groups (eg, seniors) may be helpful.