Many patients with auto-immune diseases are on the fence when deciding which medication to use. What are your options? That’s a good question. Your quality of life is important and you should take in consideration the risk/reward factors concerning your health. Before we discuss risks I would like to share a story about a person from the “outback.” This Aussie friend of mine has a interesting story that I think psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis patients can relate too.
I met Carly Boddice in our support group Overcoming Psoriasis. I asked her if she would mind sharing her story and pictures. She agreed and I’m delighted because after only two weeks she is seeing wonderful results using a biological medication. This is what she wrote;
“I was first diagnosed with psoriasis at the age of 15 years old. My mum and sister and brother have psoriasis of the skin although mine was always the most severe and noticeable.My mum also suffers from psoriatic arthritis. Although my skin does gets me down, I feel blessed not to have to suffer the joint pain that my mum suffered for many years before biologics. Over the years I have tried many treatments from moisturisers to Dead Sea products, cortisones, oils, diets and the list goes on. My dad has been my world of support in my journey spending hundreds and thousands of dollars my whole life trying desperately to give me some relief. He would spend hours combing my scalp with oil as I could not see it to do it myself. You could say my dad has suffered just as much stress and anxiety as I have during this time feeling hopeless that he had to see me suffer all the years. His last resort was ordering me a very expensive uvb light from Canada and having it shipped here and installed into our house so I could use it on a daily basis. Although I saw excellent results with uvb and cortisone combined it never cleared my skin completely and soon returned with a vengeance when I fell pregnant with my first child. I had meetings with my dermatologist who was hesitant to put me on biologics due to me being a fertile woman and wishing to have more children. I suffered through my three pregnancies with almost 90% coverage. I would search the Internet every spare second looking for new drugs with less side effects and that’s when I came across the drug Cosentyx. It was going through the trial stage and still had a year to go. I found myself reading up about this drug everyday and the results that people were achieving gave me hope. Finally the day came that it was approved on the pbs system in Australia. I visited my dermatologist office the very next day and discussed going on this miracle drug , he was hesitant as he knew nothing about cosentyx and wanted me to try other drugs first that he was more familiar with. I pushed and gave him every reason, trial result and report I could find to persuade him, finally he gave in and his words were, you have certainly done your research so I guess I have to have a first time patient on this drug eventually. I was so excited when my prescription arrived and I could take my first dose. The first dose went smoothly with no side effects that I could notice . After a week I could notice a difference already the skin wasn’t getting scaly and the inflammation was dramatically reduced. As the second week approached everyone that knew me was commenting how great my skin looked. I felt content. I am so excited to see what the next couple of months are like and what further results this new miracle drug has in store for me. I cannot thank enough, Novartis and all the people who made this drug become a saviour for myself and so many people suffering like me. Bring on summer with shorts and pretty dresses.”
Cosentyx was approved in the US months before it was approved in Australia. Novartis really has a winner here. But this is only one of the many Biological medications that are approved for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. How do you choose which one is right for you? Most of us are prescribed these medications without researching the success and failure rate. You have to be your own advocate. There are many resources available so you can make an educated decision. One which I highly recommend is the National Psoriasis Foundation. The NPF is the largest and most respected organization for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis in the world. Most of the treatments available today have been inspired by their relentless efforts to fund research. New generation patients need to recognize that they are the engine of train bringing us safer and more effective medications.
I asked Carly what we’re some of the efffects and embarrassing moments she experienced while having the visible symptoms of psoriasis.
“Psoriasis has effected my work especially in winter when it cracks and got on the soles of my feet I found it hard to walk with. I have always had to wear long sleeves and long shorts even through summer which is extremely uncomfortable and sweaty to avoid criticism and negative comments. I have gotten short tempered and frustrated and it constantly plays on my mind to the point where it was the only thing I thought about on a daily basis which distracted my family and work life. I would snap at my children from frustration and even when they would come and sit on my lap and want a cuddle the pain from the cracks would be to much it would make me upset and them as well.”
She goes on to say how people treated her. I know this first hand because I felt the same way.
“It has also effected me because It has always made me feel so drained and tired constantly I feel like I constantly need to sleep due to the inflammation. I have never had the energy to run around with my kids for long periods. I would visit the local pools with my family and people would look at me and say to their children come on let’s get out that lady must be contagious and people in the shops when their children would ask them what is that on my skin and their reply was don’t go to close it is probably contagious. I’m so glad I raise my children to be open minded and compassionate to not judge.”
From the pictures you can tell these biological medications are making a huge difference. These drugs are under the scrutiny of many nutritionist. Tough choices are being made each day for which path to take. The decision is between you and your doctor. The risks have been diluted with many recent scientific studies. If your thinking about any one particular medication, I encourage you to research your choice at Pubmed.com. You may also want to post a question in our support group Overcoming Psoriasis. Talk to patients directly. You will be surprised by the information you discover. If you like this article and the others I have written share your email with me so I can get you the latest medications being researched.
2 thoughts on “Are Biological Medications safe to use?”
Great article Todd, Carly’s story is like mine and so many others. That’s why I wrote my novel to educate people who don’t have ‘P’ and give faith to those that do. The heroine in the story, like Carly, and like myself use a biologic because of the severity of our disease. There are serious considerations that must be made before opting to use a Biologic. I called it “the deal with the devil”. The drug gives us freedom. It works, but when ‘P’ finds a way around it, and mine did for three different Biologics, the disease comes back angrier than it did before. It’s something to consider and most derms will not tell you about this prior to starting. It may not be the same for everyone, but the more we share, the more we learn. Thank you Carly for sharing your story.
Thank you for sharing your insight. It’s much appreciated. I would love to feature your novel. I’m all about raising awareness. Hopefully you belong to the National Psoriasis Foundation. The are the one stop shop of resources on the subject. We as patients need to support them. Many of us don’t and it’s my mission to get everyone involved. Why you ask, because they fund the research that will soon find a cure for us all. We are lucky to have them.