Friday, January 27, 2012

Good news for Biologics - no increased risk of infection

Medscape News featured another article that might be of interest to those of you currently on or considering  treatment with a biologic.

From the article, it appears that the focus groups consisted of patients with RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis), IBD (Irritable Bowel Disease), and psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, or ankylosing spondylitis (psoriasis and spondyloarthropathies). No lupus was present among the patients, but the drugs discussed in the article are definitely within the lupus cocktail of medications, keeping lupus in the mix for possible future treatment with biologics. Of course, Benlysta was a major breakthrough this past year - which I imagine serves as the best example of a biologic treatment for lupus, to date. Here's a snippet from the article:  


"We think there is a lot of controversy about whether these drugs [biologics] increase the risk of infection," said lead author Carlos G. Grijalva, MD, MPH, from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. "Data from clinical trials suggest that they can increase the risk, compared with placebo, but you know that these patients have other alternatives and can receive other nonbiologics." The real question, he pointed out, should be whether the biologics increase the risk for infection relative to nonbiologic options. "That is exactly the question we tried to answer."


The study results "should be reassuring for patients and providers," said Dr. Grijalva, "because we observed that the use of these medications is not associated with an increased risk of infection — except for infliximab in the RA population."


 "The takeaway is that while the biologics are not without risk, it is further reassurance that what risk there is is reasonable and appropriate, given the benefit of the drugs," he explained.


You can view the entire article here. 

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