Terry J Smith and Luigi Bartalena
In this article, the two authors present their opposing points of view concerning the likelihood that glucocorticoids will be replaced by newly developed biological agents in the treatment of active, moderate-to-severe thyroid-associated ophthalmopathy (TAO). TAO is a vexing, disfiguring and potentially blinding autoimmune manifestation of thyroid autoimmunity. One author expresses the opinion that steroids are nonspecific, frequently fail to improve the disease and can cause sometimes serious side effects. He suggests that glucocorticoids should be replaced as soon as possible by more specific and safer drugs, once they become available. The most promising of these are biological agents. The other author argues that glucocorticoids are proven effective and are unlikely to be replaced by biologicals. He reasons that while they may not uniformly result in optimal benefit, they have been proven effective in many reports. He remains open minded about alternative therapies such as biologicals but remains skeptical that they will replace steroids as the first-line therapy for active, moderate-to-severe TAO without head-to-head comparative clinical trials demonstrating superiority. Despite these very different points of view, both authors are optimistic about the availability of improved medical therapies for TAO, either as single agents or in combination. Further, both agree that better treatment options are needed to improve the care of our patients with active moderate-to-severe TAO.