Biologics for RA: Precision Therapy to Tame RA's Fire
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SPEAKER 1Does this bother you at all, when I do this?
KEVIN BRICKERMy uncle had it, and I seen him live with it, where his toes were folded over. He had nodules on his elbow. His fingers were all crippled. I can't have that happen.
ROBIN ROBERTSFor many, there is no avoiding the painful and often disfiguring symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. But now, for the 2 million Americans who suffer from RA, there is the promise of real, lasting relief-- medical miracles discovered on an extraordinary path to a breakthrough.
From the time he was 5 years old, Kevin Bricker was chasing a dream, racing the dirt-track circuit. But sometimes winning races came at a price.
SPEAKER 2my God.
ROBIN ROBERTSIt often meant living with pain.
KEVIN BRICKERI broke both ankles, a femur, busted out my kneecap. Had to have that replaced. Collarbone, both wrists. 52 screws and seven plates in my face. So I've had my fair share.
ROBIN ROBERTSBut nothing would prepare Kevin for the excruciating pain to come.
KEVIN BRICKERI went to go training one day, and I just-- I couldn't get out of bed because everything hurt.
ROBIN ROBERTSJust after the high of winning the Western championship--
KEVIN BRICKERHere's a shot of the first championship.
ROBIN ROBERTS--and getting married--
SPEAKER 1Let me see your hands.
ROBIN ROBERTSKevin was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, or RA.
KEVIN BRICKERThis is before RA.
ROBIN ROBERTSSidelining not just his racing, but his life.
BRANDY BRICKERYeah, it was devastating, just devastating. I'd have to help him out of bed and help him get around. And it was just not normal stuff.
ROBIN ROBERTSKevin's uncle had RA, so Kevin saw his own dismal future unfolding-- unrelenting pain and disfigurement that could sentence him to life in a wheelchair.
KEVIN BRICKERI knew the pain he lived in and how he walked around, and how-- I mean, how ugly the fingers and the toes looked when he took his socks off. The toes were all folded over.
ROBIN ROBERTSAnd worse, he saw the possibility of not being able to be the dad he wanted to be for his new baby, a baby that needed serious medical attention of her own.
KEVIN BRICKEROur daughter was born and she was diagnosed being deaf.
BRANDY BRICKERWe were very fearful that with his diagnosis that he wasn't going to participate, be able to physically participate as a normal dad would with their child. And for him that was awful. It was an awful feeling.
ROBIN ROBERTS: Traditional therapies for RA had a poor track record and were laden with possible side effects.
P.J. UTZThose of us who were caring for patients with rheumatoid arthritis were using drugs like gold, plaquenil, methotrexate-- very nonspecific drugs with a lot of side effects.
ROBIN ROBERTSYes, actual gold injected into the system was a common treatment until recently.
P.J. UTZSome patients would be on the drug for 40 or 50 years and they would actually turn kind of a bluish gray color from all of the gold that had accumulated. So it was pretty archaic back then.
ROBIN ROBERTS: But in the last few years, an astounding new weapon is being used in the battle against RA-- biologic drugs. Biologic drugs are a highly targeted therapy. To fight RA, they are genetically engineered to block the specific parts of the immune system that contribute to inflammation, effectively reducing the pain, stiffness, and joint swelling associated with RA. But they don't work for everyone. Dr. Utz estimates 80% of his patients show results. So would they work for Kevin?
P.J. UTZKevin was really a mess when I first met him. He had just been diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. He couldn't really walk. He had morning stiffness-- really had a dramatic effect on his family life and his personal life and his career.
ROBIN ROBERTS: After some initial treatment with standard drugs, Dr. Utz prescribed a biologic for Kevin.
BRANDY BRICKERThat would be perfect.
ROBIN ROBERTSUnbelievably, after just a few months--
SPEAKER 1Any pain at the joint line at all?
ROBIN ROBERTS--Kevin's pain and swelling melted away, enough so that he was able to race again. A dozen years after Kevin's diagnosis, RA still runs through his body. Kevin owns several sizes of shoes.
KEVIN BRICKERThere's no way that's going in there today.
ROBIN ROBERTSAnd three sizes of his wedding ring to accommodate for the occasional swelling. But remarkably, for the most part, he barely shows any signs of RA. He still lives a physical life.
KEVIN BRICKERYou got your bike dirty now. Might as well have some lunch.
ROBIN ROBERTSCoaching young racing hopefuls, taking walks with his wife, and spending time with his daughter, Amanda, who hears wonderfully now, thanks to her own medical miracle, a cochlear implant.
AMANDA BRICKER: We can understand what each other are going through, so it kind of brings us a little more closer than what a normal daughter and a father would probably have together.
ROBIN ROBERTSKevin Bricker is living a life with RA-- unthinkable just a few years ago, now truly able to be the dad he always wanted to be.
KEVIN BRICKER: Without biologics, I'd probably be in a wheelchair, and my wife would probably push me around. I just-- I couldn't imagine without it.
High five. Good job.