Biologic Drug (Cimzia) for Rheumatoid Arthritis Has Been Approved By FDA

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Wanted to get this up before I head to work, so I’m re-posting part of an article that appears on ArthritisToday.com:

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has given its nod to certolizumab pegol (Cimzia), a drug previously approved to treat Crohn’s disease, to also treat moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis.

Certolizumab pegol belongs to a class of biologic drugs that block an inflammatory protein called tumor necrosis factor alpha, or TNF-alpha. Other drugs in this category include etanercept (Enbrel), infliximab (Remicade), adalimumab (Humira) and golimumab (Simponi), which was approved last month.

Cimzia’s molecule is slightly different from the other drugs in its class, however, because it is pegylated, or coated, a process that, in theory, should help it slip by the body’s immune system more easily and may make it less likely to cause an infusion reaction.

Pegylation may also help the drug work more quickly. According to UCB, the Belgian company that makes certolizumab pegol, when used in conjunction with methotrexate, patients in clinical trials for Cimzia reported a reduction in symptoms as early as the first week.

Certolizumab pegol is administered with at-home injections, which can be given every two or four weeks.

Cimzia Website

Bedtime Snack

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It’s 10:33 pm on Tuesday night and I’m about to have my bestime snack: Advil, Plaquenil, Sulfasalazine, Celexa and a peanut butter cookie. DEE-licious.

Drugs on my night stand.

G’night.

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Update 6/4/09: People have asked and the chef has hinted at wanting credit… Chocolate chip, peanut butter cookie was baked by my boyfriend.

Anti-inflammatory Effects of Turmeric Are Unproven

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I am not one who has tried a lot of alternative food or supplement therapies to ease my rheumatoid arthritis pain or symptoms. I enjoy hearing about what works for some and what doesn’t work for others, but rarely do I feel motivated to investigate anything beyond that. I think this is partially due to the fact that it seems like an overwhelming task to determine which foods or supplements have a a positive impact on my disease. Plus, the prescription meds that I take do a pretty good job of keeping my disease in check.

Outside of my medication, I manage my disease by trying to stay active, eating healthy, and getting proper rest. I don’t always do any or all of those things well, but I feel like I can easily control those factors. Besides, those three things, plus taking my medication is enough for me to worry about. 😉

From time to time I hear about foods/supplements or foods that “do an arthritic-body good.” Turmeric is one that often gets a lot of attention. The LA Times has an interesting article about how there really isn’t enough hard evidence at this time to make the claim that Turmeric is useful in helping fight various diseases.

For the most part, the tantalizing possibilities are still unproven, says Greg Cole, a UCLA professor-in-residence of neurology and associate director of the university’s Alzheimer Disease Center who has been studying curcumin for several years. “It does a whole lot of things in a test tube,” he says. “For people, the data are pretty weak.”

Cole agrees that there’s little downside to trying curcumin. Because the compound is so poorly absorbed, he sees little potential for harm. Studies have found that people can take 7 grams a day without side effects, although it’s possible that larger doses, or use over longer periods of time, can upset the stomach and perhaps increase the risk of bleeding.

Have you tried Turmeric or other supplements? Have you notice an improvement in your disease? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

Read the full article here.

FDA Urges Stronger Warnings For TNF Blockers

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Don’t mean to scare anyone, but we all know the TNF inhibitors do come with some potentially worrisome side effects. Just wanted to put the news out there so you are informed.

From the NY Times:

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Food and Drug Administration ordered stronger warnings Thursday on four medications widely used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other serious illnesses, saying they can raise the risk of possibly fatal fungal infections.

The drugs — Enbrel, Remicade , Humira and Cimzia — work by suppressing the immune system to keep it from attacking the body. For patients with rheumatoid arthritis, the treatment provides relief from swollen and painful joints, but it is “a double-edged sword,” said Dr. Jeffrey Siegel of the drug agency. That is because the drugs also lower the body’s defenses to infections.

Dr. Siegel, who heads the office that oversees arthritis drugs, said the agency became concerned after discovering that doctors seemed to be overlooking a kind of fungal infection called histoplasmosis . Of 240 cases reported to the agency in which patients taking one of the four drugs developed this infection, 45 died. That is about 20 percent.

Read the Full Story

New Drug Gets An Approval Recomendation For Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment

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Actemra, a new treatment for Rheumatoid Arthritis received an approval recommendation by a government advisory panel last week. Made by Hoffmann-La Roche, Inc., Actemra is a biologic drug that would be administered to patients by infusion. A final decision from the FDA is expected in mid-September.

According to Reuters:

Actemra works differently from other drugs on the market in that it blocks interleukin-6 (IL-6), an immune-system protein involved in inflammation. Other widely used drugs block a protein called tumor necrosis factor (TNF).
Committee members said Actemra’s ability to relieve symptoms outweighed potential risks, but some urged tracking of patients’ liver function and cholesterol levels.

It’s always good to have new options!

Read the full Reuters article here.

How To Keep Arthritis Meds Cold While Traveling

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Frio Travel WalletThe FRIO Travel Wallet is a fantastic device for transporting your Enbrel, Humira, or [insert medication that must be refrigerated here] while traveling. These nifty wallets are marketed to diabetes patients, but will work for us arthritic folks as well. All you have to do is immerse the wallet in cold water for 5-15 minutes. This simple act will turn the pouch into a lean, mean, cooling machine! Your meds will stay cold for 45 hours, without any need for refrigeration or ice. The product can be used over and over. Even better, once you put the wallet in its outer cover, you can pop it in your bag without any worry of causing dampness. Brilliant!

Special thanks to Jeanine, an arthritis warrior from the Young Adult support group that I attend in the Los Angeles area, for bringing this cool tool to my attention!

Read more about how the FRIO Wallet works here.
Purchase a FRIO wallet here.