Biologic drugs or biologic response modifiers are drugs used to reduce joint-damaging inflammation caused by arthritis. They are powerful and work very well for people with inflammation caused by arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis.
Let’s talk about how biologic drugs work as well as their benefits and risks.
How Biologics Work
Biologic drugs are synthetic proteins that are genetically engineered to target parts of the immune system that respond to inflammation. The effect of biologic drugs begins even before the inflammation is seen or felt and prevents the inflammatory response from fully occurring. Biologic drugs target the molecules that are produced by the joint, which can cause inflammation and damage and are delivered through injection or intravenous (IV) infusion.
Biologic drugs have specific targets, for example:
- Tumor necrosis factor inhibitors or TNF-Inhibitors such as Enbrel (etanercept) inhibit the activation of a protein called TNFα. It is used in the treatment of autoimmune disorders and rheumatoid arthritis.
- Orencia (abatacept) interrupts T-cell activation and is used in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis.
- Interleukin Inhibitors inhibit interleukin-17a. An example of an interleukin inhibitor is Taltz (ixekizumab), which is used to treat psoriatic arthritis.
Unlike conventional drugs that target inflammation as a way of responding to it, which can still cause symptoms, biologic drugs inhibit the inflammatory response, which is more effective in reducing symptoms and improving the patient experience. Biologic drugs are used alone or combined with other non-biologic drugs to maximize positive results.
How Long Will It Take to Work?
It’s important to note that it takes some time for biologics to take effect. For instance, it could take as little as a week to experience improvements and as long as six months for patients to see the full effects of the treatment. However, biologics do not benefit all people, and the doctor will recommend a better form of treatment in such a case.
Biologic drugs may become less effective after being administered for a period of months or years as the body develops antibodies to it. When this happens, the doctor may recommend another type of biologic drug. As with any treatment, there are risks associated with taking biologic drugs for arthritis treatment. One risk is that it may suppress your immune system and weaken your ability to fight infection while on it. With many different types of biologic drugs to choose from, your doctor will recommend the best one for you, one where the benefits outweigh the risks.
The ability of biologic drugs to inhibit an inflammatory response is life-changing for patients whose quality of life has been lowered by their condition. To find out if you’re a good candidate for biologic drugs, consult with a doctor.
Biologic Drugs for Arthritis Treatment in Fort Worth, TX
At Texas Medical Institute, our health care team will determine if you are a good candidate for biologics and inform you if there are other treatment methods that are safer and more suitable for your condition. We offer various methods for pain control, including injection therapy and physical therapy. If you have questions or if you would like to schedule a consultation, call our Fort Worth clinic at (817) 615-8633 or use our online request form.