Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Rheumatoid treatment options

When I was diagnosed with rheumatoid last fall, I was already fairly aware of treatment options as my mother has had RA since 1989. The current theory for treatment is to hit it fast and early to slow progression and joint deformities.

I was immediately put on plaquenile and prednisone. Plaquenile is an old drug from the 1930s or so and has successfully been proven to treat RA but it is slow working - months to have an effect - so usually prednisone is given for a brief period of time to get the swelling and  pain down faster. That was bad news for me because I turned out to be allergic to both.

I was then put on methotrexate orally and after three months, was upped to the maximum oral dose but still not much progress against RA. Then after another three months, I was switched to injectable methotrexate which is not my favorite thing. This seems to be causing a few problems in reacting to the injection and I have been concerned about my options.

I go to my new rheumatologist in July to talk options. I have limited options because all those lovely new biologic drugs like Enbrel and Humira that are advertised on TV are not for me because they don't like giving them to people who have had cancer. (There's a choice - living in pain or cancer.) There is one new option that has only been out for a short time that might be a possibility but it is very expensive.

So while I have been over thinking this whole thing and spending all too much time consulting with the evil Dr. Google I just learned about a new study that says that the older drugs - methotrexate, plaquenile and another drug that I have not been put on are proving just as effective as the new and expensive ones that I can't take. And they cost a lot left. The article also notes that between 20-40% of patients do not react to methotrexate. So maybe I am not alone.

Now I am going to stop over thinking this, step away from Dr. Google and wait until I see my rheumatologist next month.

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