'Biologics' used for arthritis treatment are a type of medication called a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug, or DMARD for short. DMARDs, including biologics, are different to medicines that simply block the pain or other symptoms you’re feeling. They work to dampen down the immune system to reduce inflammation and help prevent joint damage. Conventional DMARDs affect the entire immune system but biological and targeted synthetic DMARDs work by targeting and blocking specific substances in the immune system.
Biological and targeted synthetic DMARDs can only be used if other (conventional) DMARDs have not worked. DMARDs, biological DMARDs and targeted synthetic DMARDs are usually only prescribed by specialists such as your rheumatologist. Regular blood tests are usually necessary to test the effectiveness of these medicines and to check for any unwanted side effects. For more information on biological DMARDs see Things to consider when taking a biologic.
Biological and targeted synthetic DMARDs can only be used if other conventional (or non-biological) DMARDs have not controlled your psoriatic arthritis (PsA) well enough. DMARDs, including biological and targeted synthetic DMARDs, are usually only prescribed by specialists. Regular blood tests are usually necessary to test the effectiveness of these medicines and to check for any unwanted side effects. For more information on biological and targeted synthetic DMARDs, see Things to consider when taking a biologic.
Important medicine tips
- Understand why you are taking the medicine and what the possible side effects are. Ask your pharmacist for the Consumer Medicines Information (CMI) leaflet for your medicine.
- Always read all medicine labels and take your medicines as directed. If you have any questions check with your doctor or pharmacist.
- Keep a personal record of all your medicines with you, including doses and allergies. This can be useful when you are talking to your doctor or pharmacist.
- Always talk to your doctor or pharmacist before taking any over-the-counter medicines, including natural medicines, as some medicines cause problems if taken together.
- Do not share your medicines with friends or relatives – the medicines you are taking may be harmful to them.
- If your bDMARD treatment is stopped for more than a few weeks there is a risk that your PsA will get worse again. If you do stop your bDMARD for any reason you must contact your doctor. Failure to do so may put your ability to continue on subsidised treatment at risk.
CONTACT YOUR LOCAL ARTHRITIS OFFICE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON ARTHRITIS AND SUPPORT SERVICES.
This resource has been developed based on the best available evidence. A full list of references is available upon request.