-- Question: What are biologic response modifiers and how are they used to treat rheumatoid arthritis? Side-effects?
Answer: Biologic response modifiers or biologic DMARDs can be very helpful in treating patients with rheumatoid arthritis. We use them, most of the time when patients have had an inadequate response to the older DMARDs such as methotrexate or sulfasalazine. What makes them unique is they target some of the proteins or cells that may be important causes of inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis.
The medications are given by injection or by infusion and have a fairly rapid onset of action. They're oftentimes used in combination with traditional oral DMARDs such as methotrexate. But these medicines do have side effects.
Because they suppress your immune system, it's important to make sure that you're not at risk for infections. And so patients going on biologic DMARDs need to be screened for tuberculosis and other types of infections. When you're on these medicines you need to be followed very closely by your physician to make sure that you're not having any side effects.