The treatment for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) has come a long way from mostly focusing on pain management to now approving drugs that directly target the disease. But there’s still room for improvement and innovation in the RA space, thanks to recent advancements in pharmacogenomics research. Arthritis is among the top 10 leading causes of disability worldwide. That’s why it’s so exciting that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently approved a new drug to treat RA — Olumiant, also known as golimumab-v
What’s So Unique about the Newly Approved RA Treatment, Olumiant?
Olumiant is the first biologic to combine two different mechanisms of action. It works by inhibiting the proteins interleukin-2 and interleukin-23, which are associated with inflammation, as well as by increasing the production of certain cells that help to reduce inflammation. Combining two mechanisms of action allows for better control of the disease, with fewer side effects than other similar drugs.
This is the first biologic treatment to have been approved since 2011, and the first-ever biologic to be approved that targets both interleukin-2 and interleukin-23. It’s also the first biologic treatment to combine two mechanisms of action, which is why it’s so different and exciting.
How does Olumiant Work to Treat RA?
Like other biologics, it is infused intravenously at a doctor’s office. It’s indicated for people with moderate to severe active RA who are either not responding to other DMARDs or who can’t use those treatments. Compared to other biologics, it shows reduced side effects because it targets both interleukin-2 and interleukin-23, whereas others target just one of the two proteins. Researchers are excited about this new development because it combines the best features from earlier biologics that had side effects limiting their use.
Who Should Consider Trying the New RA Treatment, Olumiant?
People who are not responding to other DMARDs, or who can’t use those treatments. This includes people who have been diagnosed with severe, active RA despite taking one DMARD (such as methotrexate) or have not been able to take a DMARD due to side effects. People who have an inadequate response to one biologic treatment.
People with an inadequate response to one biologic treatment have an elevated risk of developing infections, hospitalization, disability, and death compared with those who have a response.
What are the Risks of Taking Olumiant?
The most common side effects are itchy rash and feeling tired. But other more serious side effects are also possible and have been seen with other biologics. Some of the more serious but rare side effects include liver problems, high blood sugar, and infections. These serious side effects may happen more often in people who take Olumiant and other biologics, which is why the FDA recommends that doctors carefully monitor the health of these patients.
The Olumiant label includes a boxed warning about serious infections. When you start taking this drug, your doctor should monitor you for signs of infection, especially if you have a weak immune system or take antibiotics.
Can You Take Other Medications with Olumantan?
Because of the potential side effects, it’s important to take the drug exactly as the instructions say. This means not taking other medications that may interact with Golimumab-V. Take special care if you take any of the following: antibiotics, antifungals, anti-neoplastics, anti-HIV drugs, anti-seizure medications, antimalarials, antipsychotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), immunosuppressants, or hormones.
The good news is that researchers are always working to find the next great treatment for RA. For example, one promising treatment currently in clinical trials is a new JAK inhibitor drug. This new drug targets an enzyme called JAK, which is involved in the inflammatory response. This is the first JAK inhibitor drug that has been developed specifically for people with RA. Researchers hope that it will be able to provide benefits similar to those of existing biologic treatments with reduced risks of serious side effects.
Similarly, other researchers are working to create new drugs that inhibit interleukin-2. These new drugs may be able to provide the benefits of Olumiant without the serious side effects. In addition, researchers are also working to develop new treatments for people with other types of arthritis.