(BPT) - Dru Riddle of Fort Worth, Texas, is one of the estimated 7.5 million people afflicted with psoriasis across the United States. A nurse anesthetist and university professor, Riddle understands first-hand the importance of receiving the proper treatment as quickly as possible and treating the condition with safe, effective medicine. Diagnosed with psoriasis in 2003 and psoriatic arthritis (PA) in 2010, Riddle underwent the treatment trials and errors common to many sufferers of PA before he was connected with a health care provider who prescribed a more aggressive plan that included biologics. Before doctors put him to a biologic therapy, Riddle suffered for several years with skin lesions and joint pain. “Finally I was switched to an injectable biologic medication,” Riddle says. “Those medications have really helped control my disease and the symptoms.”
A condition that is more than skin deep
Psoriasis often presents as patches of itchy, flaky skin, while PA — which affects about a third of psoriasis patients — results in joint swelling and pain, which may cause permanent damage. Both conditions are a product of the body’s immune system attacking itself instead of the foreign invader that should be its target.
PA can usually be identified by psoriasis-like skin inflammations. However, sometimes the joint pain and swelling appear first. This can make it difficult for doctors to properly diagnose the condition.
Initially, Riddle’s condition was treated topically with little to no effect. The relief he found with the right medicines was life-changing and he has vowed to help others with PA find the right care.
"I recommend anyone with PA be extremely aggressive with their treatment," Riddle says. "The risks of not treating your PA are so much greater than treating it."
In his quest for the right treatment regime, Riddle was diligent about his self-care and joined a number of clinical trials for the types of biologics that have been so integral to his treatment plan. It was thanks to his proactive approach to treating his condition that he started learning more about biosimilars.
Biosimilars are safe, effective and affordable alternatives to conventional biologic medicines, similar to generic offerings in other medicinal categories. Widely used in Europe, biosimilars have faced a biologics-dominated market in the United States that has so far been successful in limiting their availability. Expanding the biosimilars market in the United States will require manufacturers, the government and regulatory groups to work together to craft new policies, making access to these potentially life-changing treatments their top priority.
Riddle applauds the option of safe, effective and affordable biosimilars for patients.
“The expense of the biologic medication can be prohibitive — they’re very costly,” Riddle says. “So some people may benefit from a more affordable biosimilar medication. That medication has the same efficacy, meaning it works just as well as the biologic.”
Learning more about your options
“There’s no need to be afraid of the medicine,” says Christine Simmon, Executive Director of The Biosimilars Council, a group working to support the broad components of the biosimilar industry and enabling increased access to safe, effective and affordable biosimilar medicines. “Learn more about your options, talk to your doctor and make sure you’re receiving the medication that is the most effective treatment for your condition.”
If you have psoriasis and/or PA, you deserve to know all of your options, including biosimilars. Your doctor can provide you the information you need on these treatment options. To prepare for your next doctor’s visit and have your initial questions answered, visit http://biosimilarscouncil.org/ today.