Great River, NY (PressExposure) August 18, 2009 -- Drugs used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, specifically TNF blockers including Remicade, Enbrel, Cimzia, and Humira, increase the risk of certain cancers and infections. Patients should be aware of the increased risk of lymphoma and fungal infections, especially in young children.
The Federal Drug Administration recently completed an analysis of TNF blockers which prompted a mandatory warning to be included on each of the drugs. A study conducted by the Mayo Clinic found that risks for certain cancers increased three-fold and that infection risk increased two-fold for patients taking Humira or Remicade. In addition cancer development overall was found to be higher for patients undergoing TNF blocker treatment as compared with those who were not treated with the drugs.
TNF blockers are used to reduce inflammation in patients who suffer from autoimmune disorders, specifically rheumatoid arthritis and Crohnâs disease. While some physicians believe that the benefit provided by TNF blockers to these patients outweighs the risk involved, they also stress that each patient should be aware that the risk exists and should take extra precautions such as maintaining vaccinations and undergoing appropriate cancer screenings. Families of arthritis patients should help watch for infection symptoms and should seek treatment immediately should symptoms present themselves. In some cases, fatalities have been reported just three weeks after symptoms were first observed.
In areas where fungal infections are common, such as states along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, arthritis patients taking the drugs should exercise extra caution. Some fungal infections cause symptoms similar to the flu. People with normal immune systems often do not exhibit symptoms; however, patients taking TNF blockers have suppressed immune systems and can succumb to the infection quickly, sometimes with fatal results. Each patient should be informed of the risks and symptoms of these infections so that treatment can begin immediately should such an infection surface.
Children as young as two years old may receive prescriptions for TNF blockers to treat certain conditions. Juvenile rheumatoid arthritis may be treated with Enbrel or Humira, and young patients with Crohnâs disease may be prescribed Remicade treatments to manage their condition. As these patients grow older, they should keep a watchful eye open for signs of infectious disease and should be aware of the increased risk of lymphoma and other cancers.
Patients who have suffered serious side effects from the use of TNF blockers as well as families who have lost loved ones to conditions caused or exacerbated by the drugs may wish to seek legal advice as to whether they have a legal claim. A qualified attorney can help evaluate each situation and provide advice on how to proceed.