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47 thoughts on “Consumer Reports’ Absurd Best Buy Rheumatoid Arthritis Drug List

  • May 4, 2012 at 6:39 pm
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    This was such an irresponsible article, it just makes me sick. They would no more write this type of “best buy” article for Breast Cancer patients or Heart Disease patients. What in the world would give them any indication that it is ok for RA Biologic meds to be assessed this way??!! I have never liked them because of their garbage reporting and this has pretty much cemented my eternal boycot of anything they do.

    • May 5, 2012 at 1:45 pm
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      Thank you Becky!! I made the exact same statement on the Facebook page. Imagine if we substituted the term Breast Cancer evry time CR uses the term RA. There would be an uprising! This is not just irresponsible journalism; it is downright egregious. I’ve shared this both on my personal wall (where all my healthy friends will ignore it) and on my AIA wall on FB. I urge everyone to share this and get the word out that we do not appreciate CR misinformation.

  • May 4, 2012 at 6:56 pm
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    Who are they to determine treatment paths for doctors?? “If you have been newly diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, studies show that other, less costly and safer medications work just as well as biologics, so you should try these first. These include ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, and generics, naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn, and generics), corticosteroids, such as prednisone, and nonbiologic DMARDs, including hydroxy chloroquine(Plaquenil), sulfasalazine (Azulfidine), minocycline (Dynacin, Minocin), and methotrexate(Rheumatrex).” Why didn’t they just include asprin and gold injections while they were at it?? GGRRRRRRRRR!!!!!!!!!!

    • May 4, 2012 at 7:11 pm
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      I thought advil was the modern version of aspirin anyway. Not much different… as far as disease treatment goes.

  • May 4, 2012 at 7:16 pm
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    Get ’em, Kelly!!!!!!!

  • May 4, 2012 at 7:34 pm
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    What a great find, Kelly. Unfortunately people take Consumer Reports seriously and some folks may think this simplistically (and erroneously) about treatment choices. There is so much food for fodder, but it would take much too long to correct the “report.”

    “The full DERP [drug effectiveness review project] review of the biologic drugs to treat rheumatoid arthritis is available at http://derp.ohsu.edu/about/final-documentdisplay.cfm. (Note that this is a long and technical document written for physicians and other medical researchers.)”

    Too bad that long and technical document [not intended for weak-minded patients] does not seem to be available for viewing.

    • May 4, 2012 at 7:40 pm
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      Thanks, I’ll ask if a friend can get that for us. I had this pdf on my to-do list for a while. Seemed like it shouldn’t go unanswered.

  • May 4, 2012 at 8:34 pm
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    Kelly, you are amazing with everything that you keep up on for the rest of us. You are an angel.

  • May 4, 2012 at 8:41 pm
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    I am so disappointed in Consumer Reports for this terrible article. There is already enough bad information. Why are they adding to it??

  • May 4, 2012 at 8:45 pm
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    Kelly, I am sputtering right now, and I wish I had time to write you a more lengthy note of support! Suffice to say, your hours of work were worth it, and if you were here in town anywhere near to us, I would go out in this awful rain to give you a hug for all the time and heart you put into your response—as always,you’re our rock! Thank you!

  • May 4, 2012 at 8:59 pm
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    Consumer reports is horrible. Just because they review appliances etc they think they can review a disease-disgusting and irresponsible.
    Kelly thanks for everything especially Number 19.

  • May 4, 2012 at 9:13 pm
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    Did the same reviewers at Consumer Reports who review toaster ovens write this article? Is not telling us which biologic we should choose practicing medicine without a license? It appears CR has replaced our rheumatologists. The article is beyond appalling. Also the premise of “Best Buy” is ridiculous. Few if any of us pay ‘out of pocket’ the enormous costs of these drugs. It’s hard to even comment on such an absurd and dangerous article.

    • May 4, 2012 at 9:15 pm
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      That’s how I felt Jay. That’s why it took me so long to figure out what to say. And I thank anyone who waded thru this with me! yuk.

  • May 4, 2012 at 9:40 pm
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    Amazing stuff. How can a “consumer report” if they aren’t a consumer of the disease or treatment? Have they run out of things to report on? Remicade can have it’s dosage adjusted by weight while others cannot. They failed to consider so many important things. But they aren’t consumers of these medications so how would they know what may or may not be important? Health care decisions are between a patient and a doctor, it is individualized. When they recommend a car it is because they test drove all of them in the class and selected the best buy. The folks who wrote this article neither test drove the disease or the medications. How ridiculous.

    • May 5, 2012 at 7:28 am
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      Excellent points Debbie! Consumer Reports gives us, unfortunately, a great example of how to do terrible reporting. High school level research papers are more thoroughly written than this article.

  • May 4, 2012 at 10:07 pm
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    Excellent work Kelly. Why exactly does it take until the last paragraph of page four for them to finally (almost) call RA a disease? “This report focuses specifically on the use of biologics used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, though it is worth noting that some of the biologics have multiple uses and are also approved for treating other diseases such as ankylosing spondylitis, Crohn’s disease, psoriasis, and ulcerative colitis.” In the first three pages RAD is simply a “condition”. Stick to your bad reviews of cars and MP3 players Consumer Reports! I’ll let you tell me how to treat my wife when you let me come and tell you how to run a magazine.

  • May 5, 2012 at 8:07 am
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    rawarrior Do you know what issue this was in? Just curious as Kim’s parents are subscribers. I see it was from 2010, but was it reprinted?

    • May 5, 2012 at 10:16 am
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      I don’t know Eric. I saw it was being tweeted by someone a couple months ago & I saved the link to write a response.

  • May 5, 2012 at 12:48 pm
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    Kelly, just READING this fries me! Oh, poor little hypochondriac, it seems to be saying. If you don’t “get relief” from one of these wonderful drugs, then it’s all in your head! Like most of us on RA Warrior, I’ve been on so dang many biologicals that it would make a normal person’s head spin. NOTHING works all the time or forever. We may get relief for a few months or years, but then RA seems to be able to figure a way around whatever you’re taking and a new treatment has to be found. Sometimes I wish I could “bless” people who are arrogant enough to think they have all the answers to one full day(and night) of RA THEN they can write their little know-it-all articles!
    I’m not much of a complainer, but RA IS NOT like Osteo! It affects lungs, eyes, heart, gut as well as joints! (not to mention the brain fog!)
    The ignorance of some people is simply amazing!
    Kelly, thank-you so much for your fight for all of us with RA! I know how much it can take out of a person just to try to live a normal life. You do that PLUS be such a fantastic advocate for us! All I can say is bless you!

  • May 5, 2012 at 12:48 pm
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    The linked pdf is dated June 2010. The information is two years old. I wouldn’t assume it would be written exactly the same at this time.

    Have you see anything more current on the biologics, like the Q4 AERS update from AdverseEvents.com?

    • May 5, 2012 at 1:09 pm
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      I disagree with that “assumption.” The same 9 treatments are the ones approved for RA. We knew then what we know now about advil. Most of the issues I took with the “report” are with respect to its treatment of the disease (RA) itself. Having read thousands of pages online about RA over the last few years, I can say it appears that the report was written using superficial reading of descriptions of RA, which abound on the internet. These are the kinds of things that led me to build this site. Where all kinds of views are heard, including that of honest patients who just want an accurate story told.

    • May 5, 2012 at 1:28 pm
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      I just double-checked and you’ve made 10 previous comments that I see, all of them of this same tenor or worse, even criticizing choices I make for my own children. I’ve never deleted them, but it’s odd that you would still be reading when you find everything I write (or other posters write) to be objectionable. If you mistrust what it is written here, I’m not sure why you’re still reading.

      • May 5, 2012 at 3:21 pm
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        I’m sorry if you take 10 comments as being critical of everything posted here. I usually ask a question for clarification and it is never answered. I was genuinely concerned about your son’s situation and hoped you wouldn’t inadvertently cause a delay in his treatment by focusing too much on one type of diagnostic testing. Or add more to your plate with long distance travel for care – something we have had no choice but to do and I know from experience can be extremely stressful. I hope he is doing well now.

        I’m surprised that you would consider deleting comments simply because they voice a different opinion or ask a question of your opinion. I’ve never been vulgar, profane, or spammed anything. I’m just a mother who has read thousands of pages, too.

        • May 5, 2012 at 8:48 pm
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          The policy of this blog is obvious: to post everything, including contrary comments (clearly so, since all of yours remain in place).

          The point of my statement was missed: if a reader only posts critical, negative comments of a certain tone, 11 times in a row, then it indicates a definite trend.

          In my experience, most websites do not post negative comments, but this one obviously does. (However, as the disclaimer makes clear, spam and personal attacks are not allowed.)

          You’ve obviously disagreed with my decisions as a parent as well as my perspectives as a writer. For several reasons, I’m not going to spend time defending them to you . I hope we can agree to disagree and leave it at that.

          • May 5, 2012 at 9:14 pm
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            When you consider that I do not personally have RA, I’m not sure how much of this blog it would be appropriate to comment on (to agree or disagree).

            I think any legitimate blog posts all comments. Readers want to hear all sides, don’t they?

  • May 5, 2012 at 3:13 pm
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    @Suzanne,
    I work with the media, and I have to tell you, I doubt this report would be any different in 2012. The issue here is that reporters, on this and many other topics, do not conduct thorough, investigative research over months or years. They are assigned or select a topic, put out a query to experts to get the information they need to report about it, write the article, and off it goes.

    Consumer Reports is known for “independent and unbiased testing.” However, CR stated that this report was based on a scientific review of previous studies and clinical trials, which—as admitted by Consumer Reports—are very limited and on a short-term basis. How is that responsible? If Consumer Reports is going to slap its endorsement on something, which it is doing just by publishing the report, the information *should* be thoroughly tested and correct.

    Personally, what I find most irresponsible is that the report does not clearly report on the difference between 1) symptom relief, and 2) postponing joint (and other organ) destruction. To say that NSAIDs are just as good as biologics is completely irresponsible. What about newly diagnosed patients who may stumble upon this report? There’s enough bad information out there as it is. I have Psoriatic Disease/Psoriatic Spondylitis/Psoriatic Arthritis, which is closely related to RA. I remember the pit-in-my-stomach feeling when my rheumatologist confirmed that, no, NSAIDs do NOT stop the progression of the disease. I might feel a little better, due to loading up on NSAIDs over a long period of time, but the disease could easily be marching on in the background, destroying even more of my joints. Patients need to know and understand this.

    I also found the use of “Best Buy” to be, well, just terrible. They should have used “CR Recommended,” if anything at all. Like @Becky said, you would never slap that on a cancer treatment. Come on, Consumer Reports.

    @Kelly, great work, as always.

    • May 5, 2012 at 9:26 pm
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      The title of the article is “treating the symptoms of RA”. I’m not sure what more you expect from the data available in 2010.

      I also do not think this was published in a monthly edition. It appears to be part of their Health subscription.

      Carolyn, what do you mean by you “work with the media”? You state, “I work with the media, and I have to tell you, I doubt this report would be any different in 2012. The issue here is that reporters, on this and many other topics, do not conduct thorough, investigative research over months or years. They are assigned or select a topic, put out a query to experts to get the information they need to report about it, write the article, and off it goes.”

      Is this how you think ALL members of the media operate? This is very unfortunate.

      • May 6, 2012 at 5:29 pm
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        I handle public relations for organizations in the for-profit and non-profit sectors. I’m certainly not saying ALL journalism has gone this way. There are many examples of fantastic investigative reporting out there. However, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sent information to a journalist—with the offer to arrange an interview with an industry expert—and later find this information printed verbatim, without the reporter contacting me or the expert at all. Blame it on the Great Recession (news outlets going belly up) and the insatiable need for online content, I suppose, but it happens far more than it should.

    • June 6, 2013 at 10:15 am
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      I was going back to footnote the CR article for another purpose and took a screenshot of this on pg. 3 of the report: “This report was published in March 2013.”

      Although CR may have originally published something in 2010, the link in this post has been updated so that they are standing by this report as of March 2013

      My point is even more valid today. If what CR attempted were at all legitimate, then large groups of top medical experts would not be convened every few years to issue recommendation reports like this one:
      Singh JA, Furst DE, Bharat A, Curtis JR, Kavanaugh AF, Kremer JM, Moreland LW, O’Dell J, Winthrop KL, Beukelman T, et al. 2012 Update of the 2008 American College of Rheumatology Recommendations for the Use of Disease-Modifying Antirheumatic Drugs and Biologic Agents in the Treatment of Rheumatoid Arthritis. Arthritis Care Res. 2012 May; 64(5): 625–639

  • May 5, 2012 at 7:19 pm
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    I was married to a Chiropractor for many years. Consumer Reports was vicious for decades in its comments about how Chiropractic was quackery and parroted the AMA’s party line until just a few years ago. Suddenly, its recommending Chiropractic as part of your health team. This article is suspect just because its from Consumer Reports.

  • May 6, 2012 at 1:28 am
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    I have really thought about this over the last day and half. First a consumer’s best buy list for treating life threatening chronic illness is absurd. What this really demonstrates is the commercialization of most medications outside the realm of cancer. It has become a powerful and lucrative business.
    Unfortunately for us as patients, it is a slap in the face and again gives the general public the notion that if we only did x or y we would be fine. The picture for me unfortunately does not fit into this mold or does it appear it ever will. That is not me being negative at all. It is the reality that me and my rheumatologist are facing. The face of my disease turned life threatening and that fact alone has changed my perception on articles like these and the entire commercialization of these treatments. For the people that these drugs work for I have nothing but happiness for. But to assume that these are the end all for everyone is a grave mistake.
    This community that we have all become a part of is not one of doom and gloom. It is a community of reality, support, advocation and information for those that are suffering from a complex and serious disease. And it is often due to articles and advertisements that the general public is misinformed. This is why we as patients have to have our voices heard. It is why we are frustrated, and it is why we come here, where there are others who understand, who have had success and are those like myself who are still looking for success, answers from othere and not willing to give up hope. Rolling the Stone of Sisyphus back up the hill one more time.
    David

  • May 6, 2012 at 10:14 am
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    Kelly, I understand your ire at this report – the areas where they talk about NSAIDS in the same breath as DMARDS as if they were the same thing just reeks of ignorance but I think they actually did a decent job of comparing the biologics on the market for safety profiles and effectiness profiles and they did talk about lack of response in many (40%) of patients. I agree, it’s a terrible thing to have any dangerous misinformation out there, but it is true that MTX is safer than the biologics – if it works for you. This article is halfway to something we really need – an easy to understand complete discussion of treatment options so people with this disease can make good sound decisions. Consumer reports probably shouldn’t write it. And it shouldn’t contain these glaring errors. But think about having to make a decision with better comparison information that was easy to understand? NSAIDS can help pain and inflammation but don’t stop joint damage. Steroids can help with this too and there is some evidence that they do slow joint damage but they have a very dramatic side effect profile when used long term – a good discussion of this would help. A discussion of traditional DMARDS and how they compare in joint damage control and symptom relief – has anyone ever put this together? I am currently trying to decide between Humira and Enbrel and was leaning towards Humira – once every two weeks instead of once a week, but let me see – Humira gets a 50% response in 24% to 95% of users and Enbrel gets a 50% response in 49% to 100% of users? I don’t know if those numbers are accurate – based on the errors in the rest of the report – but I am sure going back out to their websites to try to puzzle out those danged ACR numbers so I can play the odds! Boy I hate those ACR numbers – are they ever misleading! Can’t you just give me a straight answer! Anyway, off topic, my point is that I think we could use an article like this – not looking for a best buy like we are buying a car – but providing solid easy to read information in one place that could help guide you through your treatment decisions and understand the medications and compare them.

  • May 6, 2012 at 10:19 am
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    “Rheumatoid arthritis is characterized by pain, swelling and inflammation of the joints.” – Suggests that all three must be present at the same time.
    Good job!

  • May 6, 2012 at 11:57 am
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    I think maybe Suzanne works for consumer report….or a pharmecutical company who makes biologics or….or…or….just saying

  • May 6, 2012 at 3:12 pm
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    I have been taking 15mg of Prednisone everyday since 2007….if I don’t, within 4 days I dont walk. Iam fortunate in that I do not gain weight from it at all….nor do I experience any other side effects (time will tell I suppose). I tried Metho/Plaquenil/Sulfaleazine and couldnt handle side effects. While I understand all too well the pain and fatigue of RA (my left wrist doesnt bend anymore…fused all on its own….my “common sense” has always told me to run from biologics. As far a Im concerned these drugs give desperate people a false hope….they claim to help “SLOW” the progression….not “STOP” it just slow it down..your still going to progress…just slower….we all know the stats on who it works for and eventually stops working and your on to another one…meanwhile…you now possibly have cancer, infection after infection and all the other horrible side effects that go with them….Im sorry but I have RA I dont want anything else….I realize Prednisone just masks the disease but so do alot of drugs out there I mean insulin doesnt cure diabetes but it helps them live from day to day. I think in the next five years were going to see alot of those legal commercials on TV…you know the ones…..”Have you or a loved one suffered from this RA drug?…you may be eligible for compensation”…..I cant stand the biologic commercials on tv…and there are soooooo many….everyone says to me “Oh look Karla…you should go on that”……of course there like most of the world when it comes to our disease……ignorant.

  • May 7, 2012 at 6:17 pm
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    Yep Karla, ignorance.

  • May 9, 2012 at 5:53 am
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    Yes, this ‘best buy’ list for RA biologics is a load. I don’t know anyone who has an extra $4000 (+/-) lying around for a months worth of Enbrel, Humira, Remicade, etc. Let alone $40,000 for a years worth of them.

    I can’t believe the complete lack of integrity displayed in this article. But, hey – it’s all about PROFIT anyway!!

  • April 3, 2013 at 7:21 pm
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    Re.: Consumer Reports and the “Best Buy” RA drugs
    Your patience and determination in commenting on the Consumer Reports article about RA drugs are impressive and appreciated. In recent years, CR has oddly decided that a magazine designed to evaluate cars and appliances has the resources and sophistication to advise readers on every subject and product imaginable. In doing so, it has displayed increasingl incompetence and egotism. Unfortunately, as a popular magazine, it influences far too many people to ignore its misinformation. If you can convince their executives to sit down with you to learn about RA, and to write a follow-up article expressing a greater appreciation for the disease, its true effects, and treatment perspectives, you would do us all a great favor. I wish you the best of luck in your efforts.
    Thanks for your invaluable work,
    Harry Kluger
    York, Maine

    • April 3, 2013 at 9:59 pm
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      Thank you Harry. I will try. It still stuns me that they produced this garbage. As with Woman’s Day, the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and others, it makes me doubt everything they publish now.

  • April 25, 2013 at 2:30 pm
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    Kelly, thank you so much for all that you do. I honestly don’t even know how you do it, for so many reasons. I was just wondering if you sent this response to the magazine? Sadly, not that it would make much of a difference I would imagine. I am just curious if you did, what sort of response, if any did you get?

  • June 28, 2013 at 6:26 pm
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    With regard to discussion above of whether Consumer Reports would stand by this story today, here is an update:
    The biologics “report” is still being promoted on their website in spite of the numerous errors, and it does appear that CR stands by the story. The following page was created on Feb 21, 2013:
    http://www.consumerreports.org/health/best-buy-drugs/rheumatoid_arthritis.htm
    It contains a story about which 3 biologics CR recommends as a result of this report, and an error-laden video.
    The fact that a magazine with the resources of CR could publish and then stand by such blatant errors makes this incidence a valuable example of media errors with regard to rheumatoid disease.

  • October 23, 2014 at 2:16 am
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    Kelly: Thanks for the energy and effort you spent on this. Consumer Reports did help clarify some of the info about biologics, and they apparently follow what appears to be the code of silence out there on how few RA people are helped. I have been through the MTX, Anakinera, Enbrel [did relieve my symptoms for 4 years], Humera, Remicade, Leflunimide, Actrema, Xeljanz, and now Orencia and Plaquenel. I am in that 30-40% who have no relief since Enbrel wore off. I am doing Minocycline per Dr Brown’s protocol, but cannot find an MD willing to dose me up with the initial splurge of Clindamycin, IV to get the kick-start.
    Any news? I have seen the NYC med school has a Reumatology effort with our internal backteria, but nothing in the past year.
    I am into my 11th year of rapid onset and not doing well,
    Wib Smith

    • October 23, 2014 at 9:28 am
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      there has been some study of triggers in the lungs and mouth as well – but still no clear single cause to point to for this disease. Possibly, there are sub-types and likely there are multiple possible triggers – all of which make it more difficult to discover treatments that work for everyone (or a majority).
      “Code of silence” is a good way to put it. There is definitely a party line.

  • May 3, 2015 at 6:11 pm
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    This is a very enlightening article. Of course when it comes to media these days, they seem to think if they get 3 words in a row correct they are doing outstanding journalism. It is clear this is a misunderstood disease and the idea of a “best buy” that relates in any way to RA seems completely absurd.

  • October 10, 2016 at 10:56 pm
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    I would love to see a campaign to have RA ‘s name Changed .
    I haven’t figured out what would describe the wide range of symptomology that is lumped into RA.
    Also Re: your stellar article on the Consumer Reports debacle ,
    It seems many doctors got their training from the same sources as Consumer Reports.
    I’d like to add that some doctors are taught smoking is a factor to RA.
    My Rhumy asked me twice , was I sure I don’t smoke ?
    I haven’t for 30 years
    For me , as you noted major fatigue & a unwell feeling as if I were dieing were my most prominent symptoms.
    Maybe we can call this the Zombi Disease , The Walking dead.
    Thanks for all you do , Karen

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