Your doctor is considering a "biologic" or "biosimilar" to treat your condition. Do not be alarmed by the term. It simply means the medicine is derived from animal or human proteins and not from chemical substances.
They reduce uncontrolled immune reaction and inflammation in your joints, skin, muscles and gut. In turn, lessen symptoms, improve outcomes and quality of life.
Biologics are very expensive because of the high cost of inventing, manufacturing and studying them, therefore biosimilars (generic equivalent of biologics) can be marketed once the patent on the original biologic has expired. Biosimilars are cheaper, yet comparable in terms of quality, safety and efficacy to their version of an approved biologics.
Biologics and biosimilars target specific parts of the immune system. It can block actions of specific type of immune cell such as white blood cells called T-cell or B-cell. It can also block proteins in the immune system such as tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), interleukin (IL) 17-A, IL-12, IL-23, IL-6, interferon and CD-20 (protein found on B-cell). These cells or proteins are known to be involved in the inflammation process of various medical conditions.
They are indicated in a wide range of medical conditions such as:
Increased risk of infection such as upper respiratory tract infection (URTI), urinary tract infection (UTI) and skin infections. If you get an infection while on biologic or biosimilar, inform your healthcare professional so it can be treated immediately.
Reactivation of certain infectious diseases such as Hepatitis B or Tuberculosis (TB). Your doctor will order tests to assess your risk and decide on treatment before starting a biologic or biosimilar. In addition, your doctor will ensure your vaccination status is updated to further reduce your risk of getting an infection.
Common > 10%
Infection such as cold, upper respiratory infection, sinusitis, mild injection site reactions such as redness and pain
Severe infection require hospitalisation, severe infusion reactions.
Central nervous system reaction such as sudden vision problems or any numbness or tingling.
Cardiac (heart) issues which may manifest as shortness of breath or sudden swelling of the ankles.
Rare < 1 in 1000
Reactivation of Tuberculosis (TB), Shingles, Hepatitis B, cancer of the blood, skin or lung, another immune diseases such as lupus-like syndrome (which may appear as rash that gets worse when exposed to the sun or new joint pains)
Inform your healthcare professional immediately if you experience any of these or other unexplained symptoms.
Biologics and biosimilars are given by subcutaneous injection (injected into fat tissue under the skin) or intravenous infusion (injected directly into a vein) because the proteins can be damaged by stomach acid if given by mouth. Infusions will require administration by a healthcare professional while self-injection can be performed by patient or caregiver at home.
The injection may be given daily, weekly, every few weeks or every year. Your doctor will discuss with you which biologic or biosimilar is right (most effective and safest) for you, how to administer and how often to be given.
Consult your healthcare professional for more information on storage condition for specific medicine.