All posts tagged: RA drugs

More About RA Drug Orencia

Orencia Abatacept Abatacept, trade name Orencia, is a biologic medication for rheumatoid arthritis. Ads for it have been on tv.  It reduces the inflammation that causes some of the symptoms of RA. It is also used for adult psoriatic arthritis and juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Response to expect                                                                                                                According to clinical trials of Orencia use, up to 75% of patients had a 20% improvement at six months. About 50% had up to a 50% improvement. About 13% had a 75% improvement. In these studies, methotrexate was also being given. Pill, shot or IV?                                                          …

More about RA drug Actemra

Response to expect  with Actemra                                                                                     At 24 weeks of weekly injections, 69% of those with RA had a 20% improvement in  symptoms. Additionally, 47% had a 50% improvement and 24% had a 70% improvement. That leaves 31% with no improvement. None of the biologics work for everyone.

Plaquenil and the eye

I have a question about the drug, Plaquenil, AKA hydroxychloroquine. My interest stems from the book I am writing, Nurse Mary’s Guide to Rheumatoid Arthritis. After reading several additional medical reports about Plaquenil, I realized I needed to look further and to expand its section in the medication chapter of my book. Another reason for my interest was that I had been taking Plaquenil for six years for my RA.  I was taking it in addition to methotrexate injections and Medrol. I had  also been taking it while I was taking tamoxifen for breast cancer. I no longer take tamoxifen as I developed a rare serous uterine cancer associated with using the drug. None of my doctors questioned the risk involved in taking both drugs. I also made the mistake in thinking Plaquenil was a mild drug. In fact, it does treat mild RA and more aggressive RA when given in combination with other drugs. The drug itself is not mild. Hydroxychloroquine was developed as an antimalarial in 1955. It was a refined version with …

I’m Back

I have completed chemotherapy and I have completed radiation. At this point I think I am cured. It’s been a long year. I am grateful as I have friends who are not as fortunate. In addition to  being diagnosed with another cancer this year, my computer died. The new one arrived Friday. It is nice to be up and running again. My RA doc has moved on to the VA. She is going to be working on research projects as well as seeing patients. I have followed her as I am a Vet.  She is happy. She had spent several of her student years working at the VA and appreciates its culture. She has ordered Voltaren Gel for the pain I have in my feet. The pain is a problem for me when I go to bed. Voltaren is a topical gel of Diclofenac, an anti-inflammatory. It arrived this morning. I will let you know if it works for me. Albuquerque has been one of the cold spots in the nation. It’s been down to …

I thought I was going bald, it was just the MTX

About six weeks ago, I started noticing my hair thinning. I thought it was odd because my dad had thick hair in his older years. I expected my hair would do the same. My hairdresser also noticed the thinning. It was real. Next, I started noticing bunches of hair on my comb. “My hair is falling out,” I thought. Right again. I quickly realized that it was the methotrexate (MTX). Hair loss only occurs in 1-3% of those on MTX. I have been on it for five years and the last three years I have been giving myself 25mg injections. It works for me. I am also on hydroxychloroquine (Plaquenil). Plaquenil can also cause hair loss. I started taking MTX every eight days instead of every seven. Every nine days starts an RA flare. I stick with the eight days. I also cut the Plaquenil to 200 mg daily from 400 mg daily. My hair is no longer falling out. However, my hair hasn’t grown since my last haircut. Unfortunately, it was the second worst …

RA, Biologic Medication and the numbers

Reading the fine print on a medication insert is not done by many of those with RA. I suspect the big reason is the amount of time it would take to understand all the information or even to understand the information of value to you. It does seem like too much work. But there is a time to buckle down and read the inserts. I am at that time. I need to make new decisions with my Rheumatoid Arthritis(RA) treatment. I have tried three of the biologics. One didn’t work. One worked about 50% for nine months and then left me to a bad flu and a worse flare. The third just made me sick. I felt like my life was being sucked out of me. It was not a good feeling to have. For the last six months, I have sustained myself with methotrexate injections coupled with hydroxychloroquine, meloxicam and methylprednisolone. I love methylprednisolone (Medrol). It makes me feel better. I morph from a cripple in excruciating pain into someone feeling almost well. My …

Four years with RA

It was four years this month that I was officially diagnosed with Rheumatoid Arthritis. Learning to accept my situation and learning to manage my disease was not easy. Pain is constant. It just varies in intensity. Fatigue is overwhelming and was constant the first few years. The RA process of medication trial and error was discouraging. Medication side effects were hard to tolerate. Underneath it all, the knowledge of living with a progressive disease was disconcerting. Add to the mix, I was diagnosed with stage three thyroid cancer and breast cancer the same year that I was diagnosed with the RA. Both included surgery and radiation treatment. Yet here I am four years later. I am still struggling but I am surviving and maybe thriving. I wake in pain. I go to bed in pain. Pain is discouraging and even depressing. Many of my joints are affected by RA. Fingers, toes, feet and hands, elbows, wrists, shoulders and jaw. So, I am blanketed in pain. I take meloxicam and methylprednisolone for inflammation. I take gabapentin …

Four years of RA

  I was diagnosed with RA four years ago, this month. The first few years were whirlwinds as I was also diagnosed with two cancers that each involved surgery and radiation treatments.  My RA moved to the back seat then to the front and again back and forth. Now it is center stage.   In 2015, I was started on infusions of Orencia. Once I realized that the biologics only help your RA by about 50%, I settled in and appreciated that they helped that much. In July the next year, I developed a horrific flu. I haven’t had a flu for years. It was exhausting. Plus, the Orencia was not working any more. I started having bad flares. My rheumatologist stopped the Orencia. After a few weeks, I was started on infusions of Remicade, a TNF inhibitor. By the third loading dose, I was having a severe flare plus I was having a bad reaction to the Remicade. I was ill. It took two months for the Remicade to clear my system and for …

Remicade started

                                                                                             Remicade is the new RA drug I am starting. There is a loading dose, another dose two weeks later, another a month later. The regular schedule for me will be 8 weeks apart.  I have had the first two doses. It is given by infusion over two hours. The whole thing lasts about three hours. I haven’t had any reactions. Nausea is a common side effect. I have it with methotrexate so I am armed with a strong anti-nausea medicine and I am good. Last month was tough for me. Flare plus flu.I have been in a perpetual RA flare for three years. The only difference is that sometimes it is much worse than other times. It has been on the worse end of the scale for several months. …

Remicade

My treatment for rheumatoid arthritis, RA, is moving in the opposite direction of normal. Because I was diagnosed with two cancers and rheumatoid arthritis in the same year, the wonder drug biologics were off limits for me. They presented a higher cancer risk. Eventually as my RA worsened, quality of life became a factor. Methotrexate(MTX) injections help, but not enough. I had tried the triple treatment of MTX, Plaquenil and sulfasalazine without success. Leflunomide was next, but it didn’t work either. The small molecule DMARDs were exhausted as treatments.  The biologics were next. Rituxan was considered the safest both by my rheumatologist and by my oncologist. I was infused with Rituxan. It didn’t work. Next safest was Orencia. I was infused with Orencia. It helped. It helped about 50% which was the norm for it. I received monthly infusions. But my flares became much worse at 10-11 months. Orencia was stopped. Next is Remicade. Remicade, infliximab, was approved for RA in 1999. It is a TNF inhibitor. My rheumatologist had a serious discussion with me …