Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Font Size

Treating RA: Is It Time for a Biologic?

Using Biologics for Rheumatoid Arthritis

There are a number of biologics to choose from. They work in different ways. TNF-blockers target a chemical messenger that triggers swelling. Other biologics affect different molecules involved in the immune response.

It can take a few tries before finding the biologic that works best for you. Sometimes, a drug that used to work stops helping and a new one needs to be substituted.

While it can be disappointing when a drug doesn't work, take heart.

"Switching biologics is common," says Matteson. "In the vast majority of patients, we can find a medication strategy that gets the disease under control and keeps it that way."

Biologics for Rheumatoid Arthritis: Side Effects

Biologics and other DMARDs work by blocking attacks from the immune system. That's their drawback, too. By suppressing the immune system, you become more vulnerable to infection and other problems.

The exact side effects depend on the specific drug. Some biologics can cause:

  • Skin irritation at the injection site
  • An increased risk of infections, including tuberculosis
  • An increased risk of some cancers
  • An increased risk of neurologic and heart problems

Biologics are not safe for everyone. If you have a condition like multiple sclerosis, hepatitis, or heart failure, your doctor might not recommend biologics.

Whatever you do, don't manage side effects on your own without your doctor's help by skipping doses or cutting down the amount of medicine you get. That's a bad idea, Bingham says. It could allow your RA to worsen. It could also mislead your doctor into thinking your medicine isn't working.

Today on WebMD

rubbing hands
Avoid these 6 common mistakes.
mature couple exercising
Decrease pain, increase energy.
mature woman threading needle
How much do you know?
Swelling, fatigue, pain, and more.
Lucille Ball
Hand bones X-ray
prescription pills
Woman massaging her neck
woman roasting vegetables in oven
Woman rubbing shoulder
Working out with light weights