Should You Take A Biologic?
I recently had the opportunity to see a super asthma specialist. They just happen to be a researcher who specializes in mucous research in relation to asthma, COPD, and cystic fibrosis. A lot of their research is in airway epithelium. I think that airway epithelium should be the word of phrase of the day. So much happens in there and it is pretty cool.
I have a significant mucous component to my asthma. It has to be one of the most annoying components of my disease and anything that I can do to minimize the effects I will try. This sometimes includes tracking down the best in the business and getting them to consult. I was taken completely off guard last week when my super pulmonologist casually said, "You should take a biologic." I think it was more the delivery of the statement than the validity of the recommendations. It is true that I have a phenotype that responses to the new anti-IL5s that are on the market.
Biologics are a hot item right now, both physicians and patients are embracing it with enthusiasm. In some respects, I understand that there are new options on the market when we previously had so few. They are showing great promise but there is not a lot of long-term data. Are you concerned? Should we be concerned? A few people have asked me why I have chosen to take a biologic in the past and how I knew the benefits outweighed the risks. When I first began, I didn't really know if the risks would outweigh the benefits but I knew that I had to try. I am one of those patients that really does not do well on prednisone, especially higher doses. It makes me super cranky, unable to focus on work and generally not so pleasant to be around. These side effects are detrimental to my productivity and have at times really put a strain on my relationships. I had to take a chance that there would be better options out there for me. When the opportunity to get a biologic became available, I jumped on the chance. It wasn't without side effects but in my case, they were fairly minimal and did ease over time.
One of the best parts of appointment with super specialists is that you get to learn lots about what is coming down the pipe in terms of things in development. I also learned that there are other medications in development for those with non-eosinophilic asthma that includes type 2 low inflammation asthma. However, they are not as far along in the development phase, as the other biologics, that have and recently came to market for type 2 asthma. There is still an unmet therapeutic need for asthmatics however researchers are getting much closer to developing other therapeutics and treatments for this subgroup.
A small twinge of guilt came over me when I heard that other asthma patients are still going to have to wait a while for some other inventions. I think this has to be one of the most challenging things as a patient to deal with. Even in a disease that builds on variability as asthma, there are some things that you come to be very familiar with, unknown changes and even improvements which are amazing can some things take a bit of time to adjust too. I am really hopefully that there will soon be other treatments available for other patients as well.
It was really wonderful to have an in-depth patient focused discussion with the specialist. It was like having my own study session with the doc. I went in mostly prepared, although not all the records from my home Pulmonologist arrived or were misplaced or something of that nature. There was a full fledge scramble to find the records, that part was unfortunate but it was quickly forgotten about finding out that there are some mucolytics that are in development. Given the time frame could be several years, but they are a coming. I would say that this was the gold star on my appointment.
If you have taken a biologic for your asthma, I would love to hear about your experiences.
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