NKS Health Biologic and Injectable Medicines
PROVIDING ALL ASPECTS OF PATIENT CARE
         
 

Disease State Management

Arthritis
- RheumInfo.com
  Injection Training Videos
- How to Self-Inject Methotrexate
- How to Inject using a Pre-filled Syringe
- How to Inject using an Autoinjector

Dermatology

HIV / Hepatitis Management

Hepatitis

Biologic FAQ

Flu Brochure

Free 1 Hour Arthritis Consultation

 




Biologic FAQ frequently Asked Questions About Biologic Medicines

- Why was I put on a biologic?
- What is a biologic medication?
- How Do Biologics Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis?
- What are the long term effects of a biologic? 
- How long will I be on this medication for?
- What are the side effects of a biologic? 
- Why do I have both a nurse and a pharmacist involved in my medication? 
- How will I know when to take this medication?
- How will I pay for this medication and can NKS Health help me? 
- What else can I do to improve my condition? 
- Where can I get more information on my disease state? 
- Are there interactions with my other medications?
- What if I can`t self-inject?
- Does this new drug replace my methotrexate?
- What is the main concern being on a biologic medication?


Why was I put on a biologic?
Your specialist has determined that a biologic is the most effective treatment for your condition. Unlike some treatments, biologics work to control symptoms and help to prevent long term damage as in the case of rheumatoid arthritis. Likely you have tried other treatments that have not controlled your symptoms well enough.

What is a biologic medication?
Biologics are a category of drugs that genetically engineered proteins derived from human genes. They are designed to inhibit specific components of the immune system that play pivotal roles in fueling inflammation, which is a central feature of rheumatoid arthritis.

How Do Biologics Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis?
Biologics are used to treat moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis that has not responded adequately to other treatments. They differ significantly from traditional drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis in that they target specific components of the immune system instead of broadly affecting many areas of the immune system. Biologics may be used alone but are commonly given along with other rheumatoid arthritis medications.Biologics have been shown to help slow progression of rheumatoid arthritis when all other treatments have failed to do so. Aggressive rheumatoid arthritis treatment is known to help prevent long-term disability from RA.

What are the long term effects of a biologic? 
Some biologics such as the anti-TNF medications have been approved in Canada for 15 years and have been studied long term here and in many other countries. Fortunately, serious adverse effects have been rare. They do not appear to affect the liver or kidney long term with the exception of the more recent product Actemra, which requires liver testing.  There has been concern over the slight risk of lymphoma with the biologics. Many countries have monitored this risk for 10 years and longer and concluded that in adults, the autoimmune disease itself increases the lymphoma risk similar to the lymphoma risk while on a biologic. Still, patients should be aware of rare reports of lymphoma as well as lupus, seizures, MS, and recurring infections. Biologics have not been used in children for as long and there is less data on long term safety in children.

How long will I be on this medication for?
Indefinitely. There are occasions, especially for those newly diagnosed, where these treatments can knock the disease into remission. Most patients require ongoing treatment to continue to feel the benefit. There have been patients on a biologic for 10 years or longer. Some patients who remain symptom free for long periods can discuss with their specialist if they can try without medication. Recognize that autoimmune diseases are chronic and stress, illness, and other factors can bring on a flare-up.

What are the side effects of a biologic? 
The most common side effect seen with biologics is pain and rash at the injection site. This occurs in less than 30% of patients. Patients taking biologics should seek immediate medical attention if they develop persistent fever or unexplained symptoms. Vaccinations that prevent infections should be considered prior to administration of biologics. Patients should not receive live vaccines while taking biologic medications.

Why do I have both a nurse and a pharmacist involved in my medication? 
We provide medication training and continued support.  The nurse is for injection training and the pharmacist is your direct link to training on the medication.  NKS Health differs from typical pharmacies. We focus on a few chronic disease states and highly train our pharmacists to provide the most current treatment information to our patients. Pharmacists and nurses have different skill sets and work together as part of your team with your physician in healthcare to give you the best information and follow up to improve your disease state. Our pharmacist pays a personal visit to biologic patients in their home.

How will I know when to take this medication?
All medications are more effective if taken at the right time. We have you covered in this regard. NKS Health has an advanced compliance program that we manage for on behalf of the patient. We arrange to have your medication to you just before you are ready for the next dose. We personally call you to determine when and where you would like to have this medication arrivre.

How will I pay for this medication and can NKS Health help me? 
Biologics are expensive medications. We can help establish coverage through private insurance, ODB or trillium. Once your physician decides which medicine is best for you, NKS will contact the support agency from the manufacturer to assist in paperwork to have your drug plan cover this medication.

What else can I do to improve my condition? 
Compliance to your therapy, diet, exercise and lifestyle all play a part in treating your condition. Compliance with your medication is important. NKS Health is here to help ensure that you get your medication on-time.

NKS Health offers nutritional guidance for its patients through our certified nutrition expert. We also work in conjunction with the Arthritis Society in providing patient education seminars at our NKS offices to help educate patients on their condition.

Where can I get more information on my disease state? 
There are some excellent resources online explaining disease states. At NKS, we keep current Arthritis Society brochures to distribute to our patients and have monthly arthritis society information sessions. Please ask for them with your next delivery. An NKS pharmacist or nurse can visit your home to review disease information if you like.

Some sites we recommend:
For Arthritis:
- Arthritis.ca
- Arthritissociety.ca
- Rheuminfo.com
- Arthritis.org

For Psoriasis
- Livingwellwithpsoriasis.com
- Psoriasissociety.org
- Psoriasissupport.ca

Are there interactions with my other medications?
There are very few drug interactions with the biologics. We avoid putting patients on 2 biologics simultaneously to avoid lowering the immune system too much.

What if I can`t self-inject?
We can arrange more than one injection training if you are not comfortable with the procedure. There are nursing services available for severe cases.

Does this new drug replace my methotrexate?
Not necessarily, your doctor will decide on the proper combination of therapy but commonly your biologic medication is added to your existing therapy like methotrexate.

What is the main concern being on a biologic medication?
The main concern while on a biologic is that the immune system is lowered slightly which may make it harder for you to fight off an infection. We advise you to hold off on your next dose if you have any sign of infection until it is resolved. Taking your biologic dose could make the infection last longer or even cause the chance of it becoming worse. The home injections can sometimes cause an itch or irritation at the injection site. Most patients on biologics tolerate without any trouble. We advise some blood tests as ordered by your doctor to monitor for  rare adverse effects such as low blood counts.

 
 
         
NKS Health provides information to consider in your overall treatment for your condition, it is based on current literature. Any concerns regarding your medication should be discussed immediately with your pharmacist, any concerns with your condition should be discussed with your physician.