Biologics are an increasingly popular technique for treating rheumatoid arthritic (RA) patients. Many are designed to treat RA or other forms of arthritis, but also are prescribed against anemia and psoriasis. What exactly are biologics?
Biologics are genetically engineered proteins derived from human genes. They are designed to inhibit specific components of the immune system that play pivotal roles in fueling inflammation, which is a central feature of rheumatoid arthritis.
Biologics are used to treat moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis that has not responded adequately to other treatments. They differ significantly from traditional drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis in that they target specific components of the immune system instead of broadly affecting many areas of the immune system. Biologics may be used alone but are commonly given along with other rheumatoid arthritis medications.
Biologics have been shown to help slow progression of rheumatoid arthritis when all other treatments have failed to do so. Aggressive rheumatoid arthritis treatment is known to help prevent long-term disability from RA.
This is a very simple introduction.
But recent reviews are demonstrating their power is seemingly as promised:
According to ChartTrends: Rheumatoid Arthritis (US) 2012, Amgen/Pfizer’s Enbrel and Abbott’s Humira have the highest percent of RA patients achieving complete remission at 52 percent. Regardless of which biologic agent is taken for therapy, the vast majority of patients’ overall quality of life is good or excellent. Among the currently available biologics, patients taking Humira and Enbrel have an excellent quality of life, according to their rheumatologists.
The BioTrends Research Group has concluded that all patients of RA taking biologics improve in some way, if not show complete “recovery” from the symptoms of RA. This is good news for all involved, especially the companies behind the treatment. Wuxi Pharmatech in China is taking off with the consistently positive outlook of this technique of treatment.
The Food & Drug Administration (FDA) is trying to find a healthy balance between regulation and funding this new technique. Cheaper methods, products called biosimilars, are also emerging as promising alternatives on the pharmaceutical market.
A number of brands of biologic are available for treating rheumatoid arthritis. Here’s a brief list: