Gold salts are ineffective as a long-term treatment for arthritis, a study published Friday suggests.

Patients with rheumatoid arthritis injected weekly with gold salts got no more relief from inflammation than those patients who were not injected, according to the study in the Annals of Internal Medicine."The results of this study show that we must re-examine our standard treatment of this chronic disease," said the lead author, Dr. Wallace Epstein of the University of California, San Francisco.

The researchers at UCSF and Kaiser-Permanente Medical Center in Oakland, Calif., studied the course of arthritis in patients for five years.

The results, after statistical adjustment, showed that patients given gold salts received no benefit compared to those who did not receive that drug.