When It Comes to Biologics, Researchers Find Patient Education is Needed
New research shows that many people with lupus may lack awareness or understanding of biologic therapies, or “biologics” – treatments that use substances made from living organisms like proteins and antibodies, versus conventional drugs, which are chemically made. Additionally, the study reveals both important similarities and differences in the way African-American and Caucasian people perceive these types of treatments. The findings emphasize the importance of patient education to help improve people’s understanding of biologics in order for them to make the best-informed treatment decision possible.
Researchers surveyed 676 people with lupus enrolled in the Georgians Organized Against Lupus (GOAL) Cohort and found that Caucasian people were much more likely to have heard of biologics than African-American respondents (53% versus 25%, respectively.) However, there were no significant differences between African Americans’ and Caucasians’ history of having been on biologics, and both groups reported getting their information about biologics from similar sources (primarily physicians, followed by the Internet).
Notably, of the 202 individuals who reported being aware of biologics, only about half were familiar with potential benefits or side effects, and most had a neutral perception of the treatments’ risks. Lead investigator and member of the Lupus Foundation of America’s Medical-Scientific Advisory Group, Sam Lim, MD, MPH, adds, “Biologic therapies have revolutionized other autoimmune conditions. With the exception of belimumab, there are no other biologics approved specifically for lupus. However, it will only be a matter of time before others are approved for lupus. It is clear we need to better prepare our community through improved education, with the Lupus Foundation of America and others leading the way. With minorities bearing a greater burden in lupus, we need to also be mindful of differences in education and perception and be culturally sensitive in our approach.”
When you live with lupus or care for someone with lupus, information is essential to feeling empowered. Learn about medications used to treat lupus.