ACR Day Four

Highlights from ACR 2015 Day Four- It’s a Wrap!

Approximately 16,800 rheumatology-related health care professionals slowly made their way out of San Francisco as the American College of Rheumatology Annual Meeting 2015 (#ACR15) came to a close. The conference was jam-packed with more than 3,000 study abstracts and 260 thought-provoking scientific sessions and presentations.

Here are some of the highlights:

On Day One, there was a spirited debate over the long-term use of low-dose corticosteroids in inflammatory arthritis between Dr. Eric Ruderman from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in Chicago, and Dr. Maarten Boers from VU Medical Center in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. There is no right or wrong answer; it’s all about weighing risks and benefits.

On Day Two, another spirited debate, this one on opioid use. Opioids are a tool, they can be used well or dangerously, said one of the debaters Dr. John Markman, from the University of Rochester Medical Center. But, said Dr. Daniel Clauw, from the University of Michigan, while opioids work fairly well for acute pain that doesn’t necessarily translate for chronic pain, so other treatments should be used. Again, at issue: whether the drugs’ benefits outweigh their risks.

On Day Three, gout enjoyed some time in the sun: New Zealand’s Dr Lisa Sparks spoke about the need for better studies of neutraceuticals — like tart cherry, omega 3 fatty acids, turmeric and vitamin C — for gout. Cleveland Clinic’s Dr. Brian Mandell discussed the notion of treat-to-target for gout, arguing that there are many good reasons to target serum uric acid around 6 mg/dL. And UCLA’s Dr. John FitzGerald gave the audience a tour of the drugs in development.

And finally, even though Day Four was the last day, the energy didn’t let up. Drs John Cush, from the Baylor Research Institute in Dallas, and Arthur Kavanaugh, from the University of California San Diego, presented their unique and lively personal take of some of this year’s highlights. Among their choices: how diet impacts RA and gout, new information on if/how certain medications used during pregnancy affect the developing fetus, and how existing drugs are being put to new use by tackling difficult-to-treat diseases.

There was also a talk on the environmental triggers of autoimmune diseases and how these triggers may be priming the body to attack itself. And sessions on pain (which factors aggravate or alleviate it, how it impacts physical function and how losing weight can help), and on the racial disparities in the development and outcomes of OA, RA and lupus.

All in all, it was a great experience in a great city. Tune in next year for #ACR16!

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