Presented by Daniel Hernandez, MD, Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara, Medical Advocacy Liaison for the Global Healthy Living Foundation (GHLF).
Disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) are a class of drugs commonly used to treat a range of autoimmune diseases like rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Indeed, they have revolutionized the way such diseases are treated today. In addition to relieving symptoms such as pain and stiffness, DMARDs help reduce inflammation and slow disease progression. In this way, they prevent further joint damage and bone erosion. The choice of which DMARD to use for a particular patient depends on a number of considerations including the patient’s health status and personal preference. Doctors may prescribe one DMARD (monotherapy) or multiple medications together (combination therapy).
This webinar also highlights what happens to the body during inflammation caused by an autoimmune condition and how DMARDs work to disrupt the inflammatory pathway in a targeted way.
Fast Facts from the Webinar
1. Diseases like RA cause chronic systemic inflammation due to an abnormal response of the immune system
This means that if RA is left untreated it will progress and cause damage to the joints and bones as well as to other organs. “Rheum” originates from the Greek word for “rhein” which means “flow.” This is because of how the disease flows throughout your body. That is why we say RA causes systemic (whole body) inflammation that involves more than just our joints and bones, especially if left untreated.
2. Disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) keep RA from progressing and causing damage to the joints
There are different kinds of DMARDs, including conventional DMARDs (methotrexate, hydroxychloroquine, sulfasalazine, leflunomide such as Plaquenil®, Azulfidine®, Arava®); biologic DMARDs (TNF inhibitors, IL-6 inhibitors, IL-1 inhibitors, T-cell costimulation modulators, B-cell suppressors such as Humira®, Simponi®, Enbrel®, Cimzia®, Kevzara®, Actemra®, Kineret® and Orencia®, Remicade®, Inflectra®, Renflexis®, Rituxan®, Orencia® Simponi Aria®) and targeted synthetic DMARDs (JAK inhibitors such as Xeljanz®/Xeljanz XR® and Olumiant®).
Some DMARDs are administered as a pill or auto-injectors; others are administered as infusions in a clinic.
3. Disease remission occurs when there is little or no evidence of clinical disease activity
It’s important to note that achieving remission does not mean the absence of further erosive changes nor that the individual no longer has the disease.
4. Drugs may work differently from patient to patient, so finding the right medication for you can be a highly individualized process
Different medications interfere with different biologic pathways to control inflammation. Each drug may work differently for different patients. Through a process of shared decision making, patients and doctors can choose what medication is best. This decision-making process should incorporate the individual preferences of patients.
The Patient Perspective
Here’s what patient participants said they learned from this webinar:
- “That it is possible for one individual to have more than one rheumatic disease, that patients respond to various drugs differently, and that is important to initiate treatment sooner rather than later.” — Marsha F., patient participant
- “Ask for shared decision-making regarding treatment. The Rheumatologist is the key doctor for all RA related questions” — Bill A., patient participant
About the Presenter
Daniel Hernandez, MD, graduated from medical school at the Universidad Autonoma de Guadalajara and is now based in New York City where he leads medical education and Hispanic outreach. He was joined by CreakyJoints patients and staff for a one-hour webinar to discuss this topic.
Get Involved in Arthritis Research
If you are diagnosed with arthritis or another musculoskeletal condition, we encourage you to participate in future studies by joining CreakyJoints’ patient research registry, ArthritisPower. ArthritisPower is the first-ever patient-led, patient-centered research registry for joint, bone, and inflammatory skin conditions. Learn more and sign up here.