The Other Benefits of Biologics

Research-proven ways these rheumatoid arthritis (RA) meds can rein in your health risks.

By
Health Monitor Staff

If you’re on a biologic medication to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or psoriatic arthritis (PsA), here’s great news: Along with halting joint damage and relieving pain, research shows that biologics can improve your health in unexpected ways (a few studies are brand new!). And what if you’re not on a biologic? Well, if your current treatment is working, that’s great! But if it’s not, now’s the time to discuss all your options with your doctor. Consider that the right treatment may help you...

Dodge heart trouble
Controlling RA with a biologic may also protect your ticker—especially important news because RA is a risk factor for heart disease. Researchers who studied 14,000 patients found that those on a biologic had a lower risk of heart attack, likely due to the drug’s inflammation-fighting effects.
Source: 2013 meeting of the American College of Rheumatology (ACR)

Steer clear of diabetes
A study of nearly 1,600 RA patients found that those who were using certain biologics were 51% less likely to develop diabetes in the next four years vs. patients using other types of disease-modifying drugs (DMARDs). That’s a significant benefit, since people with RA and PsA have a 50% higher risk of getting diabetes.
Source: Arthritis Care & Research, Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases

Ease depression 
Psoriasis patients on a biologic reported fewer depression symptoms and better skin improvement than those not using the drug, and experts suspect people with PsA would experience the same outcome. Study authors note that biologics suppress certain inflammatory chemicals associated with not only autoimmune diseases but also depression, a common problem for those with psoriasis and PsA.
Source: Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology

Fend off surgery
Treating RA early with DMARDs, including biologics, reduced the need for joint replacements (e.g., hip, ankle) in a study of 2,300 patients over a 12-year period.
Source: 2013 ACR meeting

Live longer!
Researchers have found that RA patients on biologic therapy tend to live longer than those using other DMARDs—one study of 9,000 patients showed biologics cut the mortality rate in half!
Source: 2012 meetings of the ACR and European League Against Rheumatism

 

Published
January 2014