Baloney About Rheumatoid Arthritis | Rheumatoid Arthritis Warrior

Baloney About Rheumatoid Arthritis

baloney text protect
Here’s what I think when I watch some advertisements for arthritis medications.

Advertisements for rheumatoid arthritis are baloney

“Baloney,” I muttered to myself the first time I saw advertisements for rheumatoid arthritis medicines. My jaw would have dropped – if I could have opened it. Who am I kidding? If I could have, I would have liked to throw something at the TV or at least the producer of that ridiculous commercial. I don’t think they are still running it. A woman sits on the beach watching children play. And since she is supposed to have RA, she sits massaging her knee firmly with her hands.

Here’s what I thing watching advertisements for rheumatoid arthritis meds

1) How did she get so close to the shore? Did she walk on that knee through the sand? There is no one else around. Did she carry that lawn chair down to the beach herself?

2) If her knee hurts, why is she rubbing it so hard? Rheumatoid Arthritis makes joints so tender that it is painful even to brush against them lightly.

3) What person with Rheumatoid Arthritis can rub anything firmly like that? Aren’t the hands supposed to be the first to go? (Well, with me it was the feet; I like to do things the hard way.)

Advertisements for rheumatoid arthritis do not give a realistic depiction of RA

So that same company has a new ad series. Instead, a woman goes dancing through her day – either managing her huge dog with ease or enjoying fine dining with her romantic interest. Her life is bliss. Thanks to the drug. Baloney. How about the magazine ads? Every time I open a magazine, there is an ad for a Rheumatoid Arthritis drug which pictures the hands of a senior citizen. Hey, I hope I grow old, too, in spite of RA. But, most people get RA between the ages of 35 and 50. And we are having a hard time getting the message out about that.

Why can’t they use a young hand in just one ad? I plan to ask them and I hope you will, too. Why can’t one ad ever show a man with Rheumatoid Arthritis? At least twenty percent of RA patients are men. Don’t you think people would react strongly to see how RA can destroy a man in the prime of his life? Why is there not ever a single child? Now that would evoke some concern. That’s right; there are at least 3 types of RA which make up “Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis.”

For that matter, why can’t they ever once use a real RA patient in an ad, instead of the bouncy actress? I bet there are thousands of RA patients who would do it for free just to get the truth out. Take that back – we need the money – our treatments are really costly.

That reminds me of something my doctor said…

When I first went on biologics, my RA doctor told me how angry she is that they even have ads like these for these drugs. Her opinion: “If you have Rheumatoid Arthritis, your doctor knows about the biologics. And if you do not have RA, no one is going to prescribe them for you. What are those ads FOR? It wastes money which could be used on research or helping patients get the most expensive medicine in the world, which they need to live.”

At least those ads are for a drug which actually treats “arthritis.” The one that really aggravates me lately says this: “For many people with arthritis, not treating is not an option.” This medicine is not any kind of arthritis treatment. It is a temporary pain reliever. This ad confuses people about what “arthritis treatment” is. If they mean Osteoarthritis, they should say so. Perhaps they do not so that they can sell more of the drug. That is the point of advertising, right?

How about this one? What are they claiming their drug can do? A picture of barbells has the caption: “Arthritic joints need strong muscles to protect them. Tylenol Arthritis Pain.”

Just tell the truth

If they want to advertise, I say fine. I like a free market. Could they at least promote truth about the reality of Rheumatoid Arthritis at the same time? Wouldn’t that build trust, which is what strengthens sales in the end? Beats the baloney they serve up now.

Recommended reading:

Kelly O'Neill Young

Kelly O'Neill (formerly Kelly Young) has worked over 10 years as an advocate helping patients to be better informed and have a greater voice in their healthcare. She is the author of the best-selling book Rheumatoid Arthritis Unmasked: 10 Dangers of Rheumatoid Disease. Kelly received national acknowledgement with the 2011 WebMD Health Hero award. She is the president of the Rheumatoid Patient Foundation. Through her writing and speaking, she builds a more accurate awareness of rheumatoid disease (RD) aka rheumatoid arthritis (RA) geared toward the public and medical community; creates ways to empower patients to advocate for improved diagnosis and treatment; and brings recognition and visibility to the RA patient journey. In addition to RA Warrior, she writes periodically for newsletters, magazines, and websites. There are over 60,000 connections of her highly interactive Facebook page. You can also connect with Kelly by on Twitter or YouTube, or LinkedIn. She created the hashtag: #rheum. Kelly is a mother of five, longtime home-schooler, NASA enthusiast, and NFL fan. She has lived over thirteen years with unrelenting RD. See also https:/rawarrior.com/kelly-young-press/

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42 thoughts on “Baloney About Rheumatoid Arthritis

  • June 3, 2009 at 4:36 pm
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    I hate all the ads. I refuse for the marketing department of the big drug companies deciding what I should take. There is a book out about how drugs are marketed, can't remember the name. I do not take the new meds, or many meds at on since they make me sicker.

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  • June 6, 2009 at 10:18 am
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    Sorry to hear about that.
    Yes, you should be the one to decide.

    I just with they could show the truth since they spent the money on the ad anyway.

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  • June 26, 2009 at 2:05 pm
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    I've had JRA in every joint of my body. The docs strated testing me when I was around 4. It started with me telling my mother that my feet hurt all the time. I agree with you, if they could just show a ten year old little girl with pig tails and fingers that will never straighten out, maybe then people would pay attention….

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  • June 26, 2009 at 2:36 pm
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    Hi daina!

    You are so right!
    We must push for just what you said. We will stay on it. Glad to have you on the team! 🙂

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  • September 10, 2009 at 1:17 pm
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    I am relatively new to this RA stuff but reading your blog I find myself saying, “Wow, I truly never thought about it like that!!”

    So thankful that I finally decided to look around for some online support for my RA.

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  • September 16, 2009 at 10:10 am
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    It is a really good point that we don’t need advertising for RA drugs. Why are they wasting money? Correct. Do more research or lower the cost of the drugs.
    I am thankful for all the info and support online for RA. I am waiting for my
    blood tests to come back from the doctor, but I am pretty sure from all my
    symptoms. I think my sister has it too.

    Did your mother have RA or other family member have RA?

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  • September 16, 2009 at 10:20 am
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    JoAnn,
    In my case, it was my grandfather.
    I hope you and your sister are seeing good doctors. It seems we really have to look out for ourselves with this disease to make sure we are being treated adequately…

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  • September 17, 2009 at 1:10 pm
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    I’m so glad I moved to the UK where they don’t show such rubbish! I remember an ad for a biologic where the woman was writing – WRITING! – in her journal about how much pain she was in!

    I think we don’t need drug ads at all.

    Reply
  • February 6, 2010 at 4:22 pm
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    As you know, this is my biggest pet peeve. I get even angrier about ads for Tylenol Arthritis, Motrin, etc which depict OTC’s as relieving ALL pain. This just makes my blood boil!!!

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  • May 20, 2010 at 9:32 pm
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    Kelly, You are SO right!!! I asked my Rheumy why they chose to show commercials with people whe clearly weren’t RA patients and why the showed these people doing things that s far as I can see most if not all RA’ers could ever do. He said most people know the drugs don’t work that well – well, excuse me, then don’t give people hope in these ads! Find out by getting educated using REAL RA patients. See how much they CAN’T do which is alot more than what they can do. I haven’t found a combo of meds that have made me feel much better and I don’t think I ever will. And, with all of the possible things you can get from taking them (cancer) or something else, is pretty scary. We are a very strong bunch, us RA’ers, we will try anything that may brng our life to even just a little bit like it was before the RA even though these drugs are like putting poison in our system. The drug companies don’t even know what could happen long term, because they haven’t been out long enough. Pretty scary, huh. They should mention this in their commercialsand print ads. Not just in the very fine print.

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    • May 20, 2010 at 9:57 pm
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      I actually think that more honesty would mean better trust. Brand loyalty isn’t like it is with dishsoap though – we can’t help it if a med does not help our RA. We can’t be brand loyal.

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    • April 15, 2011 at 10:47 am
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      Cindy, I haven’t ever found a combo of meds that work for me either and I get so frustrated trying all these different things that can do who knows what to me long term all to no avail. I, too have run out of the hope that something will work.

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  • June 7, 2010 at 8:53 am
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    LOVE IT…..I FEEL THE EXACT SAME WAY

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  • July 31, 2010 at 3:04 pm
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    I was so influenced that I thought everybody else was getting ‘those’ kind of results…except me. RA Warriors has shown me that most RA patients are NOT getting results that the show.
    It’s sad, but it helps to know that I’m not alone.
    I also agree that Rx drugs need not be advertised, because it needs to come from the doctor anyway,not us. That’s one reason why the cost of the drugs is so high.
    What we need is some RA awareness TV ads with real RA patients. (like for smoking or Diabetis) Don’t know who could pay for those however.

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    • July 31, 2010 at 4:06 pm
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      How about the same people who are paying for it now? The pharma companies (with the patients’ money).

      Reply
  • November 29, 2010 at 9:04 am
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    I have been trying to understand the reason behind going on drugs that might hurt us internally and then cause us more pain later. My brother, the doctor has been living with psoriatic arthritis for more than 25 years and he has used so many different drugs to stop the progression of the disease and has found some luck, however, he always needs to change to a more powerful drug because the effects of the drug changes and his body needs a different drug. He still has pain and lately, he seems to have more even with the injections. I have the same disease and have been trying to work with just doing the natural way. I am trying the Gluten Free lifestyle. I read the book called The Gluten Connection, my Physical Therapist recommended and have being finding less pain. I feel like we need to really see the true picture. Are our lives truly being saved by these drugs or is it BALONY that the doctors have been serving to us because they just don’t have a cure and they need to shut us up.

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    • November 29, 2010 at 9:23 am
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      I would like to see a blog about the natural things that people have been trying and how they have helped, maybe then we will truly find a cure!!!!!

      Reply
    • November 30, 2010 at 8:21 am
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      Tammie, your comment came in at the same time as another one by “lglavish” here at this post. I think what she says is a good answer to you question.

      The drugs in these ads have only been around a few years so I don’t know what your brother has take for PsA. But if he’s still a doctor, they may have helped him. Most people with RA & many with PsA could not do that work due to the disability caused by the disease. The treatments try to slow down that disability. We are a long way from a cure for these. Two posts by me you might want to read on the cure issue here and here. It’s fine if you’ve already decided, but in case you or others reading are interested.

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      • December 1, 2010 at 7:32 am
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        The reality is I am so scared to be crippled. I wake from pain and my hands, wrists and elbow show me my future.

        As the day goes by I am grateful for the hands that move more freely and an arm that can hug my children.

        I know this won’t last forever so I continue my search for a way to lessen the pain and get on with living.

        I go to the health store in my neighborhood and try to find a way to work with this disease. I know I will find something. I can’t give up yet!
        I wish there was an iphone app that could monitor what everyone is trying and how the foods or natural drugs are making them feel then it took the data and created some sort of graph to show what worked and didn’t. It could ask questions about the weather and dates to see if there is a correlation there. It could ask these things in a list form so we could just check them off. We could work with the creator of this ap to help him/her know what kinds of data we needed. Perhaps, it could have the RA drugs too and how each effected them. Then the data could becombined to show how all the people using this ap felt with drug or natural way. The data would show what foods made a difference and stuff like that.
        What do you think?

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        • December 2, 2010 at 9:13 am
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          Tammie, I think that there have been studies about some of those things, but not as comprehensive as you are suggesting. I think it’s an interesting idea & I know someone is working on a tool for part of that but not all.

          I’m sorry you are scared. Many of us have been there. I hope you won’t give up on the idea of treatment since it does help many people to delay or lessen damage.

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          • December 6, 2010 at 3:38 pm
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            thank you for listening. and the video about being alone, i cried. today is a bad day but i know tomorrow won’t be.

          • December 9, 2010 at 8:44 am
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            Tammie, the video made me cry too. I hope you are doing a little better today.

  • February 6, 2011 at 5:10 pm
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    Hi Kelly
    I havn’t been here in a while and i’m glad to see that you are still truckin’ on. I have had a really rough week. I honestly don’t now if my RA is mild or severe. I dosn’t fel mild to me, though I’m aware that so far compared to others I’ve been fortunate. I hate complaining. But sometimes I really just want to talk to someone who gets it. I m in pain all the time. I used to say that if my head had a joint it would hurt too, then I went to the Dr. and he asked if my jaw hurt. I said no and though’OMG my head does have a joint and it doesn’t hurt1 That’s great there’s something that doesn’t hurt!’ On the heels of that thought came another. ‘OMG I have another joint that could hurt! This could get worse.’

    This past week, my jaw started to hurt.

    Don’t get me wrong, there is plenty I can still do, but those things are becoming more and more difficult. I may have to give up my youth ministry soon. I work full time, I have to. So I hope that I will always be able to. I’m a divorced mother of three. My son is grown. When he was young I had the energy I needed to be an active mother. His sisters have a different experience however. I have to admit that while I usually try to be positive and upbeat, today I am depressed. I have tried fighting this disease, but it is beating me. I do not want to give in to its demands and I hate having my choices taken away fom me. I try to embrace it as it leads me to a deeper spirituality, but today I find it difficult to see beyond my pain.

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    • February 6, 2011 at 5:48 pm
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      I’m right there w/ ya Nicole. My 5 yr old has a different life than the others did.

      And the story with my jaw – it might be in my onset story – My joints were falling like dominoes. And I read about the RA in the jaw and I cried w/ my daughter (now 21). I said, “You mean I wont’ even eat?” Well, a few months later, there it was. And yes, there are days sometimes that eating is hard. But not every day. Honestly, I have tears now for both of us. I’d really like a way out of this whole thing about now. Do you have a way to treat your pain? We do need a way out, even if it’s only temporary. We can’t live with constant suffering. You won’t lose Nicole – as long as you are here and trying. Hang on. ♥

      Reply
  • April 3, 2011 at 3:40 am
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    My docotor wants me to start a trial of Tocilizumab. I don’t like the sound of it and am presently taking methotrexate which I don’t like either. Has anyone got experience with this?

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    • April 3, 2011 at 9:15 am
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      That’s called Actemra in the US. You can look under the Tags List to findsome posts discussing it here- click here. Be sure to check the comments pages. Yes, I have taken it & I know several others who have. What is worrying you about it most?

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  • April 14, 2011 at 9:15 am
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    Thank you for this. For sometime now I have been telling my husband that the ads for the RA meds just make me mad! It makes me not trust the medication they are advertising because they are not telling the truth about what is going on and what will go on. True the meds might just work but are you going to go back to the very active life you once had, doubtful.

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  • June 20, 2011 at 11:11 am
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    So pleased to live in a country where medicine os NOT a free market. Advertising drugs on TV is alien to me, and it should be. Biologics are very powerful and the decision to take them should be reached with a rheumatologist, not a flashy advertisement.

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  • February 17, 2012 at 7:28 am
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    I did the happy touchdown dance -in my mind of course – when I read this. My family sees these ads and asks if I’ve taken the wonder drug that has people up and dancing. It’s hard enough for my friends & family to “get” my RA but baloney in advertising makes it more difficult.Thank you for letting me know I am not alone in wanting to respond violently to those misleading commercials.

    Reply
  • April 14, 2012 at 8:41 am
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    My husband has RA and those ads bother me. I see them in almost every magazine and on TV a lot. I usually change the channel because they irritate me so much. He has tried several of these ‘miracle’ drugs and there is no miracle. I find the ads insulting.

    Reply
  • January 16, 2013 at 1:28 pm
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    The ads make me crazy, too! So insulting to those of us who actually have RA. I had the great fortune to be able to participate in a market research study with a group trying to create a new ad for a new RA drug. I told them how much we hate these commercials that offer what seems to be a complete remission with people riding horses, dancing, etc. We know that’s baloney!

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  • June 3, 2013 at 12:36 pm
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    Such great points Kelly. I’m in my 20s and have had JRA since childhood. There are certain RA television ads out right now which make treating this condition look so easy. In one of the ads a woman with young children easily stirs cake batter and juices a lemon, holds her toddler with one hand and then plays soccer with her family.

    While I understand that tv ads are meant to sell a product, I dislike how this condition is portrayed. Even if my JRA was to disappear at this moment, I still would not be able to quickly juice a lemon or hold a toddler with one hand due to damaged joints.
    My fear is that persons who don’t have RA will see these ads and think that treating RA is as easy as treating a headache. It’s not about making persons feel sorry for us – it’s about making persons understand so that they can be compassionate. I wonder if we will ever see a child/teen used in an RA ad…now that would be very impactful!

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    • June 3, 2013 at 1:34 pm
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      such an important point Lil. There are more than twice as many kids with rheumatoid disease as there are with juvenile diabetes, but you wouldn’t know it by the way it’s discussed (or not discussed).

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  • May 6, 2014 at 11:39 am
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    I know this is old, but I just found it, and this site. I can SO relate. The new one showing the lady with RA helping put together a play ground. I can’t even picture myself PLAYING on a playground. I get sad because I start thinking “if only Humira worked that well for me…..” bad advertising. Baloney.

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  • May 12, 2014 at 5:26 pm
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    Thank you for your site and for your humor! It took about 8 months before I was diagnosed with RA…when I described my fatigue to the first rheumatologist I saw, telling him that my pain wakes me up at night, he disregarded the explanation and asked if I snored. Needless to say, I went to another doctor.
    The ads drive me crazy, especially the people rubbing their joints. Also, the sense that all symptoms are controlled and you feel just as you did prior to the disease. I am now managing my expectations thanks to my experience and sites such as this one, where the real experience of RA is described.
    We’re still at the tweaking stage of medication so patience, information, I’ve caught up on my immunology knowledge I last visited as an undergraduate 30 years ago…and the realization that I should enjoy the good days and not fight the bad days.

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  • May 27, 2016 at 7:35 pm
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    I also think the ads predujice observers because of the never ending list of side effects. Once people realise you are taking them they think its overkill. Of course the general lack of knowledge of the disease fuels this thinking.

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  • June 7, 2017 at 1:13 pm
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    Well said! Bravo! I have been on Humira for 10 years, and it has never made me feel good enough to put a playground set together or be a professional chef. Baloney!!! I have yet to see even one advertisement that was realistic to what we go through, and truthful about this disease, which if one listens to them, its just like the flu with a couple of creaky joints. Baloney!!!

    Reply
  • April 13, 2018 at 6:48 pm
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    There are a lot of articles about RA and biologics to help control the disease. The problem is that there are a signifiant number of us that cannot afford this médication. I am a senior citizen on social security. I have a good Part D insurance plan that pays most of my médications but little next to nothing for biologic, a Tier 5 drug. Consequently I live with the effects of RA with only Predisone to handle the effects of the disease. Which means that little is controlled and I have the additional side effects of the Predisone.If Anyone has any suggestions as how to handle this problem, I would love To hear about it. When I
    I see these ads on TV or magazines I want to scream. They have a subtitle that says huge savings can come from the pharmacutical company but these do not apply to people on social security and Medicare plans(these people that need it the most). Oh well yet again one of the joys of age and chronic illness.

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    • April 28, 2018 at 4:56 pm
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      Vicki Jo, i’m so sorry for you. I’m not sure if it helps to know that a large percentage of us are living with only steroids and NSAIDs for other reasons – the meds don’t work very well and we’ve tried them all; many of us have comorbidities that rule out treatments or have stopped them due to serious side effects.
      In the US, federal policy prevents pharma companies from helping those with government insurance. It is our representatives that we must complain to.
      Here’s a link to a discussion of how often treatments fail.
      http://www.rawarrior.com/why-say-a-patient-fails-treatment-when-ra-treatments-fail-patients/

      Reply
  • January 31, 2019 at 2:17 am
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    Here in Australia they only advertise over the counter products. but here it is 2019 and people, family and friends still don’t get it and the big Pharmacutical companies that they put Doctor and patient thru a set of hoops to qualify for certain drugs I’m a negative factor so it’s harder for us to get the new drugs escpically the Biologicals, I get so angry at the system, currently I am on only pain relief because there is noting that is suitable or qualify for,,,,,

    Reply
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