Adalimumab (ADA) is a biologic medication that dampens inflammatory pathways by binding to the cytokine tumor necrosis factor alpha. The US Food and Drug Administration has approved ADA as a medication for use in rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, Crohn's disease, psoriasis, and juvenile idiopathic arthritis. This year marks 10 years of clinical experience with ADA. Long-term extension studies of some of the initial clinical trials, as well as data from large patient registries, are demonstrating ongoing benefit for responders. Potential side effects such as increased risk of infection, lymphoma, congestive heart failure, and demyelination continue to be examined, as the available data are not unanimous in showing an increase in incidence. In balancing both the advantages and the disadvantages of using ADA, the drug's overall effectiveness and its availability for use in patients with hepatic or renal co morbidities are weighed against the high cost. ADA is expected to have a leading role in the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions for years to come. Future studies will need to address the optimal sequence of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs and biologics to use, combinations of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs and biologics, and head-to-head comparisons of biologics in clinical trials. For those who go into clinical remission on an anti-tumor necrosis factor medication, unanswered questions remain about identifying the patients who can maintain the remission off all drugs, or at least off injected medication. Given the cost of biologic drugs, even studies that increase the interval between drug doses in well-controlled patients could provide financial benefits.
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drug
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Tumor necrosis factor alpha
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