For the first time, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved a genetically engineered protein for the treatment of moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis. The drug, called etanercept (trade-name Enbrel), binds to tumor necrosis factor (TNF), a naturally occurring immune cell-signaling molecule that promotes inflammation. The drug is approved only for rheumatoid arthritis, an autoimmune disease that most often affects women between ages 36 and 50. The drug is not approved for osteoarthritis, the type of arthritis that often occurs with aging or after trauma.
The most common side effect of the drug was relatively mild and short-lived itching, pain, or swelling at the site of injection. Less than 1% of patients had an allergic reaction to the drug. Etanercept is approved for use in patients who have not shown a good response to other medications.
COMMENT: Many may not know that I treat hundreds of patients with rheumatoid arthritis, and many of those patients receive this newsletter. The reason I treat so many patients is that I have developed a very effective modification of Dr. Brown's work who successfully treated over 10,000 patients with RA. (For those interested in more information see www.rheumatic.org). The dietary changes are my major contribution to his protocol. Many RA patients will want to know about this new drug. What this press release does not indicate is that this drug is given intravenously which will raise its cost to the tens of thousands of dollars per year. Obviously, a cost that can only be born for most by third party payers. Even if the drug were free though, I would not recommend it. It is only a symptomatic band aid and will never cure this disease. I suspect that it is highly likely to repeat the history of interferon for hepatitis (see above) and m.s. which has been more than an abysmal failure with all of its complications and lack of efficacy.