Rheumatoid Arthritis: The Patient’s Journey

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is not a simple diagnosis. It is a chronic condition, which means that there is no cure. However, it is possible to manage and mitigate its symptoms.

Understanding your treatment plan and coordinating with your doctor are important steps to stay healthy. Though rheumatoid arthritis is complicated, treating your disease doesn’t have to be.

Treatment options for rheumatoid arthritis vary. They range from anti-inflammatory drugs, which relieve pain and reduce inflammation; antirheumatic drugs that slow the progression of the disease; and biologic drugs, which target inflammation-causing parts of the immune system. With a complex disease and many treatment options, it is critically important to monitor your treatment.

This video shares a patient journey from diagnosis to treatment. We follow a common path: frustration and confusion regarding symptoms; discovering effective treatments with a doctor; and asking questions throughout to stay informed and ensure that the patient gets the medication she expects.

Why is it so important to make sure you receive the medication you expect?

Here’s a possible scenario:  An RA patient might be currently treated with a brand name innovator biologic drug; however it’s possible that a physician might write the International Nonproprietary Name (INN) for a prescription renewal. The INN is the same for both the innovator biologic and the biosimilar; therefore, it is possible that a pharmacist could dispense the biosimilar version of the drug when the innovator biologic was intended.

Biosimilars are similar but not identical to the innovator biologic drugs they intend to copy. Health Canada recommends that a decision to switch from a brand name innovator drug to a biosimilar should be made by the treating physician and the patient.

Because of this possibility of an unintended switch, it is critical to understand what medication you have been prescribed, and what medication you have been dispensed.

For questions related to your medication, you should speak to your physician.

After reading this article, are you more likely to speak to your physician about your treatment?

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