© The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the British Society for Rheumatology. Objective To describe the outcomes of MTX and biologic DMARD (bDMARD) treatment in patients with RA and assess unmet needs in patients who fail treatment, using real-world data from the Norwegian DMARD (NOR-DMARD) registry. Methods Data included RA treatment courses from January 2007 until July 2016. Patients received MTX monotherapy (in MTX-näive patients), bDMARD monotherapy, bDMARDs + MTX, or bDMARDs + other conventional synthetic DMARDs (csDMARDs). DAS28-4(ESR) was used to measure remission (textless2.6) and inadequate response (textgreater3.2) across all groups at Months 6 and 12. Estimated ACR20/50/70 and EULAR good and good/moderate response rates (based on DAS28-4[ESR] score) for bDMARDs were modelled at Months 6 and 12 using logistic mixed regression. DAS28-4(ESR) scores and changes from baseline, and rates and reasons for discontinuation, were evaluated for all groups over 24 months. Results The 2778 treatment courses in this analysis included 714 MTX monotherapy, 396 bDMARD monotherapy, 1460 bDMARDs + MTX and 208 bDMARDs + other csDMARDs. Of patients with DAS28-4(ESR) data at Months 6 and 12 (25.0-34.1%), 33.9-47.2% did not switch treatment and were inadequate-responders at Month 12. There were no significant differences in efficacy between bDMARD groups (bDMARD monotherapy, or bDMARDs + MTX or other csDMARDs). Lack of efficacy was the most common reason for stopping treatment across all groups (13.7-22.1% over 24 months). Conclusion An unmet treatment need exists for patients still experiencing inadequate response to MTX monotherapy and bDMARDs as monotherapy or in combination with MTX/other csDMARDs after 12 months. Trial registration ClinicalTrials.gov, https://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01581294.