Myths vs. Facts
There is a lot of information available about Biologic Meds. What’s true (a fact) about biologic medications? What’s not true (a myth)? Find out here.
Fact – Biologics are not toxic. They are made using technology that allows scientists to isolate specific proteins found in nature to target specific diseases. Some biologics suppress the immune system and may make people more at risk for infections, but those used in the treatment of asthma and allergies do not.
Fact – Early on there was concern that biologics could lead to cancer (specifically lymphoma) due to suppressing the immune system. However, further studies have shown that is not the case. And often it is the underlying disease (such as rheumatoid arthritis) that may make people more at risk for cancer. There are certain biologics that have been shown to increase the risk of certain cancers, but overall biologics do not increase the risk of cancer.
Fact – Most people who take biologic medications tolerate them very well. Some biologic medications do suppress the immune system, which can put people more at risk for infections. However, the most common side effects involve a reaction at the injection site, such as discomfort, redness or swelling.
Fact – You can take biologic medications if you have more than one health issue. But always discuss the risks vs. benefits with your healthcare provider. If you have more than one provider, you can ask them to collaborate to discuss initiating biologic therapy.
Fact – There is no specific amount of time that a biologic works. Some people may experience long-term relief of symptoms or even remission. For others, the biologic may seem to be working for a period of time and then become less effective. That is why it is important to monitor your symptoms and discuss how well you think the treatment is working with your healthcare provider. In some instances for asthma, switching from one biologic to another may provide relief.
Fact – Doctors aren’t “pushing” biologic medications. Rather, they may see the data on their effectiveness in treating certain diseases and want their patients to be treated effectively. But if you feel like your doctor is pushing a particular treatment, ask them why. They should be able to share why they think that is the right treatment for you.
Fact – Biologics are to be taken in addition to your prescribed asthma inhalers. Over time, you may find you are able to use your quick-relief inhaler less. But you should continue to always carry your quick-relief inhaler in case of an asthma attack. Do not stop any of your prescribed asthma medications without first discussing your symptoms with your healthcare provider.