How Biologics Can Help Your RA

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Biologics represent a class of medications in which we can target particular parts of the immune system. Using biologic therapy, we can try and tailor the treatment towards getting a particular person's rheumatoid arthritis under better control.

There's no one-size-fits-all type of an answer for rheumatoid arthritis. The decision about whether or not to use a biological agent to control the disease is really a personal one. The physician and the patient will end up talking together to decide whether the disease manifestations are aggressive enough in which they need to use a biologic agent or whether a different medication might be helpful.

In general, biologics are safe medications, and we use them for a lot of different patients. However, just like any other medication, they have the potential for side effects. In patients that may have certain types of infections or certain exposure of infections in the past, they might not be suitable for that particular person.

In addition, particular biologics may interact with other parts of the immune system or other medications that people are taking, and so in those cases, the decision as to whether or not to use a biologic and if so, which one, is really a customized, personalized choice.

In general, the biologics work for a large portion of the population, especially those that may not have responded well enough to the more traditional medications. Most biologics take a few weeks in order for them to take maximal effect, but that varies a little bit depending on which biologic we're talking about.

We really, for the longest time, had very limited treatments in order to help keep rheumatoid arthritis under control. With these biologic agents, we've been able to make patients feel better, have longer, healthier lives and be able to be more active. And so I think that this is a really exciting development for both rheumatologists as well as the patients which we deal with.

I think that it's really important to talk with your physician if you don't have good disease control using other medications and decide whether a biologic might be right for you.