Sponsored: Managing Your RA—3 Things You Might Not Know

Sponsored: Managing Your RA—3 Things You Might Not Know

When you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), even everyday moments such as taking a walk around the block, opening a jar of peanut butter, or spending time with your family in the park, can be challenging. If these moments still feel like a struggle, it might be time to talk to your rheumatologist and healthcare team about a different treatment plan.

Over the last 20 years, treatment for RA has evolved significantly, largely influenced by the introduction of biologic medicines.1 Biologics are therapeutic proteins that are designed to help people with RA by targeting specific parts of the immune system, to help alleviate signs and symptoms, and to slow down the disease’s progression.2 An emerging class of biologics known as interleukin-6 (IL-6) inhibitors block the activity of IL-6, a protein made in the body and a key contributor to inflammation.3

High Levels of IL-6 Contribute to Inflammation and Swollen Joints, Hallmarks of RA
IL-6 is a protein in your immune system that is produced by your white blood cells. Normal levels of IL-6 are vital to the immune system. However, at consistently high levels, such as those seen in RA, IL-6 triggers chronic inflammation that may cause tender and swollen joints, reduce physical function and eventually can lead to bone and cartilage destruction.4,5 In some people with RA, IL-6 levels are the highest in the early morning hours, often a time that many people may experience increased pain, stiffness and functional disability.6,7,8,9

IL-6 Inhibitors Work Differently
IL-6 inhibitors block the area where IL-6 attaches to cells, an approach that’s different than some of the most commonly used RA treatments.3 Other RA treatment options target different cytokines or immune system pathways, such as tumor necrosis factor (TNF) or Janus kinase (JAK). Speak with your doctor to help understand which treatment approach might be right for you.

If Your RA Treatment Stops Working, Consider an IL-6 Inhibitor
Biologics that target TNF – also known as TNF inhibitors – were the first class of biologics to emerge to treat RA.10 In clinical practice, switching between different types of TNF inhibitors is a common treatment strategy to manage both effectiveness and tolerability issues.10 However, there is evidence that people with RA may respond better when switching to a biologic with a different pathway, such as an IL-6 inhibitor like Kevzara® (sarilumab).

Kevzara was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in May 2017 and is an injectable prescription medicine used to treat adult patients with moderately to severely active RA after at least one other medicine called a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) has been used and did not work well or could not be tolerated. In its clinical trial program, Kevzara demonstrated clinically-meaningful improvements in RA patients by reducing signs and symptoms, improving physical function, and helping inhibit the progression of structural damage caused by RA.

Patients treated with Kevzara are at increased risk of developing serious infections that may lead to hospitalization or death. Patients should call their healthcare provider right away if they have any symptoms of infection. Please see additional Important Safety Information below and click here for full Prescribing Information including risk of serious side effects and Medication Guide.

For more information about how an IL-6 inhibitor may fit into your treatment plan, visit www.Kevzara.com.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION

KEVZARA can cause serious side effects including:

SERIOUS INFECTIONS: KEVZARA is a medicine that affects your immune system. KEVZARA can lower the ability of your immune system to fight infections. Some people have serious infections while using KEVZARA, including tuberculosis (TB), and infections caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses that can spread throughout the body. Some people have died from these infections. Your healthcare provider should test you for TB before starting KEVZARA. Your healthcare provider should monitor you closely for signs and symptoms of TB during treatment with KEVZARA.

• Before starting KEVZARA, tell your healthcare provider if you:

• think you have an infection or have symptoms of an infection, with or without a fever, such as sweats or chills, muscle aches, cough, shortness of breath, blood in phlegm, weight loss, warm, red or painful skin or sores on your body, diarrhea or stomach pain, burning when you urinate or urinating more often than normal or feel very tired; or are being treated for an infection, get a lot of infections or have repeated infections
• have diabetes, HIV, or a weakened immune system.
• have TB, or have been in close contact with someone with TB
• live or have lived, or have traveled to certain parts of the country (such as the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys and the Southwest) where there is an increased chance of getting certain fungal infections (histoplasmosis, coccidioidomycosis, or blastomycosis)
• have or have had hepatitis

• After starting KEVZARA, call your healthcare provider right away if you have any symptoms of an infection.

CHANGES IN CERTAIN LABORATORY TEST RESULTS: Your healthcare provider should do blood tests before and after starting KEVZARA to check for low neutrophil (white blood cells that help the body fight off bacterial infections) counts, low platelet (blood cells that help with blood clotting and stop bleeding) counts, and an increase in certain liver function tests. Changes in test results are common with KEVZARA and can be severe. You may also have changes in other laboratory tests, such as your blood cholesterol levels. Your healthcare provider should do blood tests 4 to 8 weeks after starting KEVZARA and then every 6 months during treatment to check for an increase in blood cholesterol levels.

TEARS (PERFORATION) OF THE STOMACH OR INTESTINES: Tell your healthcare provider if you have had a condition known as diverticulitis (inflammation in parts of the large intestine) or ulcers in your stomach or intestines. Some people using KEVZARA get tears in their stomach or intestine. Some people using KEVZARA get tears in their stomach or intestine. This happens most often in people who also take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), corticosteroids, or methotrexate. Call your healthcare provider right away if you have fever and stomach (abdominal) pain that does not go away.

CANCER: KEVZARA may increase your risk of certain cancers by changing the way your immune system works. Tell your healthcare provider if you have ever had any type of cancer.

SERIOUS ALLERGIC REACTIONS: Serious allergic reactions can happen with KEVZARA. Get medical attention right away if you have any of the following signs: shortness of breath or trouble breathing; feeling dizzy or faint; swelling of the lips, tongue or face; moderate to severe stomach (abdominal) pain or vomiting; or chest pain.

• Do not use KEVZARA if you are allergic to sarilumab or any of the ingredients of KEVZARA.

• Before using KEVZARA, tell your healthcare provider if you:

• have an infection
• have liver problems
• have had stomach (abdominal) pain or a condition known as diverticulitis (inflammation in parts of the large intestine) or ulcers in your stomach or intestines
• recently received or are scheduled to receive a vaccine. People who take KEVZARA should not receive live vaccines.
• plan to have surgery or a medical procedure
• are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. It is not known if KEVZARA will harm your unborn baby
• are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best way to feed your baby if you use KEVZARA. It is not known if KEVZARA passes into your breastmilk.
• take any medicines, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Especially tell your healthcare provider if you use any other medicines to treat your RA. Using KEVZARA with these medicines may increase your risk for infection.
• medicines that affect the way certain liver enzymes work. Ask your healthcare provider if you are not sure if your medicine is one of these.

• The most common side effects include:

• injection site redness
• upper respiratory tract infection
• urinary tract infection
• nasal congestion, sore throat, runny nose

These are not all the possible side effects of KEVZARA. Tell your doctor about any side effect that bothers you or does not go away. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA at www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

To learn more, talk about KEVZARA with your healthcare provider or pharmacist. The FDA-approved Medication Guide and Prescribing Information can be found at KEVZARA.com or by calling 1-844-KEVZARA (1-844-538-9272).

Please click here for full prescribing information including risk of SERIOUS SIDE EFFECTS and Medication Guide

A note from RheumatoidArthritis.net: The content of this article was provided by our sponsors, Sanofi Genzyme and Regeneron. RheumatoidArthritis.net does not specifically endorse or recommend the program, product, medications or therapies discussed in this article.

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