What is Immunosuppression Medication?
Immunosuppression is essentially a lowering in the activity of the immune system. Purposely induced immunosuppression by the use of immunosuppressive medication is commonly used in the treatment of auto-immune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis. Immunosuppressive drugs are prescribed to treat the patient in order to establish control of the autoimmune condition. These medications are all collectively known as Disease Modifying Ant-Rheumatics Drugs (DMARDs).
Different types of immunosuppressive medication
Immunosuppressive medications are categorized in to two main subtypes:
- Synthetic DMARDs
- Biologic DMARDs
Otherwise knows as corticosteroids, glucocorticoids are steroid medications that have been commonly prescribed to patients living with rheumatoid arthritis and other auto-immune conditions such as Lupus. Steroids are naturally occurring chemicals that assist the body in working, and for those who have inflammatory conditions, steroids are essential in limiting inflammation. Steroid medication helps significantly in suppressing this autoimmune inflammation and they have a quick onset of action, normally within 24-48 hours.
Synthetic DMARDs are usually used first-line for treatment of inflammatory arthritis and connective tissue diseases such as Lupus. These medications will help to reduce the over-activity of the immune system and therefore control the inflammatory condition. Synthetic DMARDs have been used for nearly 40 years with great success and we have excellent experience in using these medications.
Treatment will be decided after a diagnosis of an inflammatory rheumatic condition has been made. Once DMARDs have been commenced they can take 8-10 weeks to work and control the immune system. Steroids can be given in the mean time as “bridging” therapy until the DMARD is established in the system. With most synthetic DMARDs, we will monitor your blood tests regularly.
Examples of DMARDS that we commonly use are as follows:
Biologic DMARDs are medications that have been genetically engineered to target specific molecules in the body. They have been available for at least 20 years and have really changed the landscape in terms of treatment for auto-immune conditions. Biologic DMARDs specifically target a specific immune molecule that is involved in activating inflammation. By blocking this specific immune molecule, this will reduce the over-active immune system and symptoms will become controlled.
Currently there are at least 10-15 biologics available on the market and pharmaceutical companies are bringing in more as our understanding of these auto-immune rheumatic conditions increases. Examples of biologic DMARDs are as follows:
Dr Bhadauria – here to help
Remember, if you are finding all this medical information overwhelming, Dr Bhadauria can explain everything in more detail at your consultation. Some of the drugs prescribed for inflammatory rheumatic conditions have been aiding patients’ quality of life for over 50 years.
Dr Bhadauria’s clinic locations are the Spire London East, the BMI Kings Oak Hospital and BMI The Cavell Hospital. Visit the Contact page of this site to make your appointment.