For pharmaceutical companies, it is getting harder and harder to find and develop new drugs. Each new drug discovery is more complex and requires more testing to ensure its safety. There are other ways that pharmaceutical companies can make money on patented drugs. That requires the help of doctors who might use the drug not as intended but rather off-label to help with other symptoms. Drug companies can do further studies to see if it actually does work, based on this information . The more symptoms treated results in more patients and ultimately more money. Humira (#Humira) is one such prescription drug.
What Is Humira?
Humira is known scientifically as adalimumab and comes in the form of injections. This prescription drug is a TNF inhibiting anti-inflammatory biologic medication. To put it simply, Humira is a cloned antibody that binds to receptors in your immune system to prevent an inflammatory response. This is important for those being treated due to autoimmune diseases. In essence it shuts down your immune system.
So the next question will be what is Humira used for? Since so many studies have been performed, Humira is used to treat a variety of conditions whereby inflammation is the source. This includes Rheumatoid arthritis, Plaque psoriasis, Crohn’s disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Psoriatic Arthritis, Hidradenitis Suppurativa, Polyarticular Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis, Ankylosing Spondylitis and Uveitis. I will explain all of these conditions in terms we can all understand.
The initial use for Humira was for the treatment of Rheumatoid arthritis. Rheumatoid arthritis is an inflammation causing autoimmune disease that affects mostly the joints. Your joints typically become warm and swollen with pain and stiffness making it difficult to perform everyday functions. Your immune system sees your joints as foreign and initiates an attack. By shutting down the source of inflammation from your immune system, you can perform basic functions without pain. Adults are not the only ones affected. In rare cases, It will also affect kids and teens in the form of Polyarticular Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. Their joints are impacted as well and cause other symptoms such as fevers, rash and/or eye inflammation.
Psoriasis is a skin condition whereby skin cells under the surface reproduce and die at an extremely large rate. Plaque psoriasis is the most common form of Psoriasis. With this disease you can see raised, red patches covered with a silvery white buildup of dead skin cells. These patches are known as plaques and appear on the scalp, knees, elbows and lower back. Not only is it visually not appealing but these plaques are itchy, painful, crack and bleed. If your condition is bad enough, you will also develop psoriatic arthritis, which causes pain, stiffness and swelling in your joints.
Crohn’s disease is an inflammatory bowel disease which causes inflammation of the lining of your digestive tract. The inflammation caused by Crohn’s disease often spreads deeply into the layers of affected bowel tissue. Inflammation then leads to abdominal pain, severe diarrhea, fatigue, weight loss and malnutrition. Inflammation caused by Crohn’s disease can be painful, debilitating and sometimes may lead to life-threatening complications. Ulcerative colitis is also an inflammatory bowel disease that causes long-lasting inflammation and ulcers in your digestive tract. Ulcerative colitis affects the innermost lining of your large intestine (colon) and rectum.
If that was not bad enough, one could develop Hidradenitis suppurativa which is a rare, long-term skin condition. It features small, painful lumps under the skin in areas where the skin rubs together (armpits, groin, under the breasts). These lumps may break open, smell or cause tunnels under the skin and create huge scars. Hidradenitis suppurativa is associated with arthritis, severe acne, obesity, inflammatory bowel disease, Crohn’s disease, metabolic syndrome and diabetes.
Other Inflammation Sources
Additional treatment options include Uveitis, which is a form of eye inflammation. It affects the middle layer of tissue in the eye wall and can include eye redness, pain and blurred vision. Finally comes ankylosing spondylitis which is an inflammatory disease that can cause some of the vertebrae in your spine to fuse together. As a result of this fusion, it reduces spine flexibility and can result in a hunched-forward posture. Based on all of these diseases that can be treated, the common theme is inflammation. Preventing your immune system from initiating an inflammatory response helps in treatment.
Before we get into the side effects associated with using this drug, we have to point out the Humira cost associated. It is not a cheap medication that your co-pay will cover unless you have the cadillac plans of insurance. For a one month supply, it will cost you $3,100 per month for two dosages of the Humira pen. The silver lining is that the patent will expire in 2016 and one can hopefully expect the price to drop significantly. You also have to consider that the Humira pen will hurt when getting the injections. If you read the Humira reviews, some say it is similar to a hornet sting or ant bite but the relief is well worth it. There will be some bruising or redness in the injection area.
Because adalimumab suppresses your immune system, a person can become susceptible to latent infections such as tuberculosis. A reinfection can be fatal since your immune system may be unable to fight new infections. Being aware of the sick people around you is critical for your health. Keep in mind that a simple infection by viruses, fungi, or bacteria can hospitalize you. Based on the study information, patients have reported serious and sometimes fatal blood disorders. there have been rare reports of lymphoma, solid tissue cancers, liver injury, Anaphylaxis (severe and fatal allergic reaction), and cardiac failure (death). The FDA has issued a black box warning so that doctors monitor patients closely to prevent serious side effects. There are other less serious side effects such as numbness, blurred vision, chest pain, rash, shortness of breath, swelling, itching, sore throat, chills and fever.
Have you used Humira?