If Crohn’s Disease or Rheumatoid Arthritis Wasn’t Already Enough

If having Crohn’s Disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, or so many other countless ailments that plague so many of us today is not enough, now there is one more thing to be concerned about.

The FDA has notified healthcare professionals that the boxed warning for all Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha (TNFα) blockers has been updated to include the risk of infection from two bacterial pathogens, Legionella and Listeria. The label will now include consistent information about the risk for serious infections and the associated disease-causing pathogens.

The first TNFa was marketed in 1998, however thirteen years later, we are learning that patients treated with these blockers are at increased risk for developing serious infections involving multiple organ systems and sites. These infections may lead to hospitalization or death due to bacterial, mycobacterial, fungal, viral, parasitic, and other opportunistic pathogens. It is recommended that the risks and benefits be considered prior to initiating therapy in patients with chronic or recurrent infection, and patients with underlying conditions that may predispose them to infection.

Perhaps in another thirteen years, the need for these types of medications will be all but gone. In the meantime, by reporting adverse events and side effects, the makers of the TFNa blockers need to continue to keep patients and their doctors informed about the risks and benefits of these treatments so that patients can make an informed choice.

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