If you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), you’re probably aware of methotrexate and other disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) that are used to slow the progression of RA. Unfortunately, you may also be aware of their limitations and numerous side effects.
The newest DMARDs are biologics. These drugs are engineered to be target-specific in the battle against RA. There is no cure for RA, yet, but biologic infusion therapy can successfully slow the progression of RA and control your symptoms in the process.
Sona Kamat, MD, FACR, is a highly respected board-certified rheumatologist who is happy to provide biologic infusion therapy at her St. Louis practice, West County Rheumatology. Dr. Kamat and her patients are extremely pleased with the results offered by this innovative new treatment for RA.
Methotrexate and other older versions of DMARDs work in a general fashion to suppress the overactive immune response that triggers inflammation and other factors associated with RA. When these reactions are controlled, your pain lessens dramatically, and the joint-destroying effects of RA decrease significantly.
Biologic DMARDs are genetically engineered to mimic the actions of natural proteins in your immune system. They are target-specific, meaning they address specific inflammation responses linked to RA. This often offers better results than a generalized immunosuppressive approach.
Also, many patients do not respond well to methotrexate or other older DMARDs, which have potentially significant side effects. While virtually any drug can have serious side effects, including biologic DMARDs, the new biologic drugs are better tolerated by many patients and have a lower side effect profile than the older versions.
There are numerous biologic drugs available for RA therapy. Some, such as abatacept (Orencia®) interfere with the action of T-cells, which help cause the joint inflammation responsible for RA.
Rituximab is another biologic that appears to help control RA by destroying immune system B cells. Several biologic drugs target and suppress tumor necrosis factor (TNF), a protein produced by white blood cells that’s active in early inflammatory processes.
Dr. Kamat may design an RA treatment plan for you that includes only a biologic, or a combination therapy that may include a biologic and methotrexate or other older DMARD. She works closely with you to create the most effective treatment option(s) available for your circumstance.
“Infusion” refers to the way biologics are delivered. Many of these medications can be taken via injection that you can perform at home. Some, such as rituximab, require intravenous (IV) infusion.
Dr. Kamat often prefers IV infusion because it’s a fast-acting solution to controlling your pain, and it relieves you of the responsibilities associated with self-injecting. Many patients find it easier to come to the office for infusion than to remember to take their medication at home. Infusion therapy also ensures the medication is moving throughout your system.
Infusion therapy can take several hours, but it’s a relaxing experience for most patients. Once the IV is set, you’re monitored closely for adverse effects but are otherwise free to listen to music, read a book, or simply relax and take a nap. Be sure to wear comfortable clothing.
Research surveys have shown that patients are generally more satisfied with infusion therapy versus receiving their medication via injections at home or at the office.
Take steps to prevent future joint damage caused by RA. Schedule a visit today at West County Rheumatology for the latest and most effective treatments delivered in a friendly and caring environment. Call the office at 314-492-2323, send a messa ge to the team here on the website, or using the convenient online booking feature.