Objectives: To evaluate the 1-year cost-effectiveness between three different initial treatment strategies in autoantibody-negative RA patients, according to 2010 criteria. Methods: For this analysis we selected all RA patients within the intermediate probability stratum of the treatment in the Rotterdam Early Arthritis Cohort (tREACH) trial. The tREACH had a treat-to-target approach, aiming for low DAS <2.4, and treatment adjustments could occur every 3 months. Initial treatment strategies consisted of MTX 25 mg/week (initial MTX, iMTX), iHCQ 400 mg/day or an oral glucocorticoids tapering scheme without DMARDs (iGCs). Data on quality-adjusted life-years, measured with the European Quality of Life 5-Dimensions 3 Levels (EQ-5D-3L), healthcare and productivity costs were used. Results: Average quality-adjusted life-years (s.d.), for iMTX, iHCQ and iGCs were respectively 0.71 (0.14), 0.73 (0.14) and 0.71 (0.15). The average total costs (s.d.) for iMTX, iHCQ and iGCs were, respectively, €10 832 (14.763), €11 208 (12.801) and €10 502 (11.973). Healthcare costs were mainly determined by biological costs, which were significantly lower in the iHCQ group compared with iGCs (P < 0.05). However, costs due to presenteeism were the highest in the iHCQ group (55%) followed by iMTX (27%) and iGCs (18%). The incremental cost-effectiveness ratios did not differ between treatment strategies. At a willingness-to-pay level of €50 000, the Dutch threshold for reimbursement of medical care, iHCQ had the highest probability (38.7%) of being cost-effective, followed by iGCs (31.1%) and iMTX (30.2%). Conclusion: iHCQ had the lowest healthcare and highest productivity costs, resulting in a non-significant incremental cost-effectiveness ratio. However, iHCQ had the highest chance of being cost-effective at the Dutch willingness-to-pay threshold for healthcare reimbursement. Therefore, we believe that iHCQ is a good alternative to iMTX in autoantibody-negative RA patients, but validation is needed. Clinical trial registration number: ISRCTN26791028
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© 2021 The Author(s) 2021. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Society for Rheumatology.