Ankylose This! Living with Ankylosing Spondylitis

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Expensive medications, half as often?

This article leads with the proposition that expensive medications like infliximab (Remicade) may be best for rheumatoid arthritis (a disease similar to ours; what's good for RA is frequently good for AS). But it's facile and misleading: it misses the real point of the British study the article reports on.

Further down in the article, we learn that the study found that not only was infliximab plus methotrexate better than methotrexate alone, but also that the benefits of the treatment persisted for a year after the patients in the study stopped taking the drugs. Since infliximab and other biologics are impractically expensive ($12,000/year) to take for the rest of your life -- which is what we'd have to do -- the researchers were looking for less expensive applications of the new meds. If we can still benefit from infliximab while only taking it half the time, we've cut our drug costs in half. This isn't proven yet, but if these results can be replicated in other studies, we could be looking at something quite significant.

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