Are Biologic Therapies Right for Me?
Researchers have made significant advances in understanding the immune system and the causes of many diseases.
These findings have been instrumental in developing advanced biologic therapies that target specific proteins associated with disease flareups.
Although not a cure, biologic therapies aim to modify the disease course helping patients and their doctors better manage symptoms and disease progression. Additionally, biologics can reduce the number of adverse effects and complications of conventional treatment options.
Watch the Video: Are Biologic Therapies Right for Me?
What Can Biologic Infusion Therapy Treat
There are different types of biologic medications available to treat various medical conditions, including certain types of cancer and a number of autoimmune diseases.
Biologic drugs have proven effective to treat chronic conditions such as:
- Crohn’s Disease
- Ulcerative Gastritis
- Rheumatoid Arthritis
- Psoriatic Arthritis
- Ankylosing Spondylitis
- Multiple Sclerosis
Although they have fewer, milder side effects than other conventional treatments, biologic infusion therapy is not for everyone. Your doctor is the only one who can prescribe this line of treatment, but the decision needs to involve you as the patient.
Tips for Talking to Your Doctor and Questions to Ask About Biologic Therapy
Whenever you talk to your doctor about your condition, there are two things to remember:
Always be Honest
Describe your symptoms in detail, don’t minimize them, and don’t leave anything out, no matter how insignificant or embarrassing you think it is.
Trust Your Doctor and Yourself to Make the Right Decision
Your doctor has the expertise and knowledge to decide when to recommend biologic treatments, yet it’s also important to listen to your body and voice your concerns.
When your physician suggests adding a biologic to your chronic disease treatment, naturally, you will have questions, and asking the right ones can help you make the best decision.
Here are some pertinent questions you should ask.
Why do you think biologics will work for my condition?
Ask your doctor to explain why they feel you are a good candidate for biologic therapy and what are the short and long-term expectations of the treatment plan.
Understanding why infusion therapy is the best next step in your disease management plan can give you a better perspective on your condition and help you manage expectations.
Are there any risks involved in using biologics?
Having all the facts beforehand will help you make an informed decision. While the benefits of this class of medications often outweigh its risks, biologics are not risk-free. Since these drugs interact with your immune system, it can reactivate chronic asymptomatic infections such as Hepatitis-B and tuberculosis. Therefore, your doctor will likely recommend screenings for these diseases before starting your infusion therapy.
How will the biologic drugs be administered?
Biologic infusions are typically administerted intravenously (IV) at a medical facility. Ask your doctor if they offer in-office infusion treatments in their practice.
How frequently will I get the biologic drug?
The treatment schedule will depend on the type of biologic medication your doctor prescribes. The frequency ranges from two weeks to two months and varies between initial and ongoing treatment.
Should I continue taking my other medications?
Before starting your biologic infusion therapy, it’s vital to discuss with your doctor all the medications you are taking, including over-the-counter supplements.
Your doctor will advise you on which medications to continue, adjust dosing if necessary and inform you which medicines to stop taking.
What side effects might I experience from taking a biologic drug
Although biologics have fewer side effects than conventional therapies, you need to know what side effects to expect and how to manage them.
Common side effects include pain, bruising, itching, and redness at the injection site. Some patients also experience headaches, fever, chills, and nausea.
Ask your doctor to explain the possible adverse effects, how to manage them and when to call their office when side effects occur.
How will I know whether this medication is working for me?
It may take weeks or months before you notice symptom improvement. Ask your doctor how they plan to monitor your treatments and how long before you can start seeing results.
This information will help you manage your expectations and stay motivated.
If this biologic drug doesn’t work for me, what’s next?
There are differences between biologic medications, and some may work better than others for specific patients. Ask your doctor how they will know if the prescribed biologic is not performing as expected and what other treatment options are available to you.
It is not uncommon for patients to try different biologic therapies before finding the one that works best for them.