Author(s): Chang J, Girgis L
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) inhibitors are a new class of injectable drugs, under the umbrella term 'biological agents', now available for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic inflammatory conditions including juvenile idiopathic arthritis, Crohn disease, psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. OBJECTIVE: The aim of this review is to provide an overview of TNF-alpha inhibitors and highlight the key practical issues of relevance to general practitioners. DISCUSSION: TNF-alpha inhibitors may have a potent effect in reducing inflammation and possibly inducing remission where conventional disease modifying drugs have failed to do so. These drugs are associated with an increased risk of infection as well as other potentially serious side effects. Their use is restricted to the relevant specialist prescribing the drug and are only available on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme under strict prescribing criteria. The role of the GP is critical in identifying patients suitable for referral to consider commencing treatment and in monitoring patients on long term therapy.
This article was published in Aust Fam Physician
and referenced in Journal of Genetic Syndromes & Gene Therapy