Biologic Treatments for Arthritis

Why Even Consider Biologics (e.g. Enbrel, Humira, Remicade)?

It came down to a quality of life decision for me. I resisted for many years and I finally gave in for one reason: Pain! The pain I was in was so unimaginable and relentless, I would have tried almost anything.

If you have done any research at all on these types of treatments, you probably had the same reaction as I did when I first looked into them. My initial thought was: These medications are too dangerous to even consider.

What are the Risks?

Like almost all medications, there are risks involved, so each person has to weigh the options for themselves. These types of medications can lower the ability of your immune system to fight infections.

One of the most serious infections is tuberculosis (TB) which can even cause death. For this reason, my rheumatologist does periodic checks for TB. So far, it has always come back negative and I expect this trend to continue.

TNF blockers also increases chances of getting lymphoma or other cancers. Wow, what a great pep talk on taking these medications. But wait, there’s more…

They Worked for Me!

To be a little clearer: Enbrel worked for me.

I tried Remicade at first which is given as an IV infusion. Even though you only have to have a treatment every eight weeks, after the “starter” treatments, it is still kind of a hassle since you have to go to an office that administers Remicade. The treatments didn’t improve my condition. I didn’t want to try anything else, but after a year or so, I couldn’t stand the pain.

Next, I tried Humira. It was easier to administer since I could do it at home via an injection. I wasn’t too crazy about taking shots, but it was a small price to pay if it worked. Humira was not effective in treating my condition.

Finally, after a while, I decided to give Enbrel a shot (pun intended). Similar to Humira, you can administer this medication at home by injecting it. At first, I thought it was another dead end even though it helped some. Then my rheumatologist recommended I begin taking 50 mg twice a week. It worked!!!! Hallelujah, it worked. My pain level is dramatically reduced under this dosage.

Will I Continue to use Enbrel?

Yes, yes I will. I can accept the risks because my quality of life is so much greater. I could lay in bed and play it safe but the chances are my disease would continue to progress unchecked and my quality of life would continue to decline. The results are worth the risks!