With the rapid expansion of new classes of medications, clinical practice has changed dramatically, and rheumatology health professionals must have a fundamental knowledge of immunology and the mechanisms of action of the biologic agents that have emerged with this expansion. Familiarity with the predrug screening recommended for biologic agents and the appropriate safety and disease monitoring necessary when a person uses these products is essential for the best patient outcomes. Additionally, being able to obtain drug plan authorization for use of biologics and being able to educate patients and their families or support team members about the financial considerations of these drugs helps to ensure best rheumatology practice.
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Explore This IssueMay 2010
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The 2010 ARHP Clinical Focus Course, “Integrating Immunology and Biologics into Clinical Practice,” is for rheumatology health professionals who have an interest in this key topic. “The course evolved from feedback on a previous course that provided techniques attendees could immediately use in their clinical practice,” explains task force chair Sandra Watcher, RN, BSN, of the decision to focus on this topic at the 2010 ACR/ARHP Annual Scientific Meeting. “A multidisciplinary task force used feedback from attendee surveys, list serves, and annual meeting evaluations to develop this exciting course as a way to meet the educational needs of the many health professionals who treat patients on biologics.”
This one-day preconference course —scheduled on Sunday, November 7, just prior to the beginning of the annual meeting in Atlanta—will begin by addressing the nuts and bolts of rheumatology as Troy R. Torgerson, MD, PhD, presents “Immunology Background for Biotherapies” and Anne M. Stevens, MD, PhD, focuses on “Targeted Therapies: How Do They Work?” After a morning break, the sessions will continue with Josephine C. Garnoc, BSN, presenting “Screening Patients for Safe Practice.” Garnoc will address various safety-related concerns surrounding the use of biologic therapies and will review how to recognize the effects of comorbidities when prescribing biologic therapies.
The last of the morning presentations will be Susan P. Bruce, PharmD, on “Side Effects and Adverse Reactions.” Dr. Bruce will describe both common and rare side effects of biologic agents, discuss significant infections and cancer risks, and compare anaphylactoid and anaphylaxis infusion reactions. “I think the most important message about the session I will be leading is the fact that we continue to learn more and more about the biologics every day,” says Dr. Bruce. “While the dramatic effects in disease improvement have revolutionized patient care, the adverse effects must also be a factor in the decision about whether or not to initiate therapy in an individual patient. Additionally, clinicians must remain vigilant in screening for adverse effects during the course of therapy and managing them as appropriate.”