Biological drugs


These are the newest range of disease-modifying drugs for rheumatoid arthritis.  You may also hear them called cytokine modulators  or monoclonal antibodies.


How they work: They mimic substances produced by the human body such as antibodies, and, like the DMARDS above, act by blocking chemicals involved in the inflammation process.  Some of these block a chemical called TNF-alpha, and so may also be referred to as anti-TNF drugs.

adalimumab

(Humira)

certolizumab pegol

(Cimzia)

etanercept

(Enbrel)

golimumab

(Simponi)

infliximab

(Remicade)

anakinra

(Kineret)

abatacept

(Orencia)

rituximab

(Rituxan, MabThera,

Zytux)

tocilizumab

(Actemra,

RoActemra)

Examples of biologicals include:

Biologicals are also sometimes used to treat other inflammatory conditions such as psoriatic arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and Crohn’s disease.

Who gets them? Whilst these drugs can be very effective, they need to be given  by injection or infusion, and they are also expensive.


Recent guidelines from NICE (National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence), state that two trials of six months of traditional DMARD either singly or combination therapy (at least one including methotrexate) should fail to control symptoms or prevent disease progression before one of these newer biological medicines may be recommended. Biological medicines may also be used in combination with methotrexate (a DMARD).