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

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?

Biologics for RA: Things to Ask Your Doctor

When you have RA, it's important to be an informed and active patient. If your rheumatologist recommends a biologic, here are a few things to ask:

  • Why are you choosing this biologic medication? Doctors generally can't predict how well a medicine will work in a person. There's often some trial and error in settling on a drug. Still, it's good to ask why your doctor is choosing this medicine instead of another.
  • What other medicines will I need? A biologic is often used in combination with methotrexate. You might also need other medicines, like prednisone or painkillers. Doctors generally don't use two biologics for rheumatoid arthritis together. Why? They increase the risks without seeming to increase the benefit.
  • Will I receive it by injection or intravenously? Some biologics are only available intravenously at the doctor's office. Others can be injected at home.
  • How often will I need it? The dosage schedules vary widely. They range from twice a week to once every eight weeks.
  • Is the biologic therapy you're prescribing covered by my insurance? Biologics are expensive drugs. Insurance companies differ in which drugs they cover and when they will cover them.
    Matteson says it's not uncommon for a person's treatment to be guided by an insurance company's policies as much as the doctor's recommendations. Some people run into problems when changing jobs. A treatment covered by their old insurer might not be covered by a new one. Talk directly about the costs with your doctor, Bingham says.
  • What will my co-pay be? Even the co-pays for biologics can be expensive. Make sure you know if you have to pay a separate co-pay for the injection or infusion as well.
  • Am I eligible for financial assistance from the drug manufacturer? Many drug companies offer programs to help people pay for biologics.
  • What should I do if I have side effects? You need to know when to get help. Worsening symptoms, a fever, or weight loss are all signs that you should get checked out right away.
  • How often will I need checkups? At first, you will probably need to see your doctor every four weeks. If your treatment is helping and your disease is well controlled, you might only need checkups every three to six months, Matteson says.

Biologics: Weighing the Benefits and Risks

When you first get diagnosed with RA, you might have doubts about treatment. If you're only having mild joint pain right now, are the risks of biologics and other DMARDs worth it? Can't you wait and see how it goes?

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
doctor and patient hand examination