New safety guideline released for prescribing biological therapies in inflammatory arthritis

The British Society for Rheumatology publishes its latest clinical guideline in Rheumatology, the UK’s key specialist journal in the sector. The new guideline updates and presents two previous guidelines into one set of evidence based recommendations on the vital safety aspects of prescribing biological therapies in inflammatory arthritis. Biological therapies have transformed management of inflammatory arthritis. The GL concentrates on the essential screening and monitoring that minimizes risk for patients. The guideline also covers how some co-morbidities affect prescribing regimes and the choice of therapy.  

The key recommendations fall into three areas: basic recommendations on patient communication, the safety aspects to consider prior to treatment with a biologic and then things to think about in patients already receiving biological therapy. Baseline assessment is addressed in HIV, Hepatitis B and C, cardiac problems, respiratory disease, uveitis, demyelinating disease, diverticular disease and vaccination.

The target audience is health professionals who look after patients with inflammatory arthritis. Co-morbidities are common in this patient group so this GL is also relevant to clinicians in other specialities whose practice includes patients with inflammatory arthritis and who are treated using biological therapies e.g. HIV specialists, cardiologists, respiratory physicians and with a specialist interest in interstitial lung disease, others with interests in TB, hepatologists and dermatologists.

Lead Guideline author Dr Christopher Holroyd, Consultant Rheumatologist at University Hospital, Southampton, says:

My fellow guideline developers and I are all practicing clinicians and heavily involved in the management of patients with inflammatory arthritis, so we’re absolutely confident the guideline is relevant and eagerly anticipated. This guideline supplies answers to key questions that clinicians may face when caring for patients initiating and already established on biologics, especially those with other significant co-morbidities. . Whilst we all prescribe for the effects we hope for, we also need robust ways of minimizing or watching out for the ones we don’t. This GL will provide exactly that".

Dr Elizabeth MacPhie, Chair of the Standards, Audit and Guidelines Working Group at the British Society for Rheumatology and Consultant Rheumatologist added:

Patient safety is always a priority and this guideline is hugely important and ensures that clinicians are supported by evidence based recommendations. The British Society for Rheumatology is a multidisciplinary society and this guideline will be helpful not just to doctors but also specialist nurses and pharmacists."

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