Starting Advanced Therapies During COVID-19

There have been many questions regarding starting a new therapy that can increase infection risk during pandemic times.  The consistent messaging from specialists treating autoimmune conditions has been that a person should maintain treatments as this has less risk of infection than a person off treatment who has a disease flare.

Of course this is with the understanding that isolation and/or social distancing PLUS regular hand hygiene must prevail.

But what about a person who has not yet started an advanced therapy such as a biologic; should they wait?

What we know is the longer we delay the start of any treatment that can help control disease, the greater the risk is that damage can occur to the tissues involved (such as the gut in inflammatory bowel diseases and joints in rheumatic conditions) and that these changes are often irreversible.  As we are also in a time of less contact with the public we are reducing our risk of all types of infection spread.

Hence for the flared person who has no infection symptoms currently, one could argue that this is the BEST time to start a treatment and get control of disease!  As always, each person must be assessed for the risk of treatments compared to the benefits by their prescriber.

Based on this information, it is not surprising that the number of people starting new therapy remains high.  We have been educating and welcoming many new patients to our clinic at this time.

Carolyn Whiskin is the Pharmacy Manager for Charlton Health.  Carolyn specializes in the treatment of autoimmune diseases, pharmaceutical compounding, women’s health, pain and smoking cessation. Carolyn has won provincial and national awards for her commitment to patient care and public service.

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