There’s good news if you have psoriatic arthritis: The FDA has approved the use of the biologic medication golimumab (Simponi Aria) for psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. The drug was approved for use for moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis in 2013.
Golimumab is the first biologic for psoriatic arthritis that can be delivered via 30-minute infusions every eight weeks following the induction dose. Another biologic, abatacept (Orencia), can also be given in 30-minute infusions, but must be administered every four weeks; other biologic medications can take three to five hours to administer.
It may be hard to receive a diagnosis of psoriatic arthritis, but it can be even more overwhelming when your rheumatologist begins going over your treatment options. While there are many medications that can be used to treat this inflammatory disease, and treatment plans can vary from patient to patient, it's likely that your health care provider will recommend a biologic medication at some point.
In the simplest terms, biologic medications contain genetically-engineered proteins that work by targeting the parts of your immune system that cause inflammation — the immune response responsible for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis. Golimumab is a biologic medication, one that belongs to the class known as tumor necrosis factor inhibitors (TNF-inhibitors). These work by blocking chemical signals that trigger joint inflammation —relieving pain, increasing mobility, and reducing the chances of permanent joint damage.
Two large-scale studies that involved over 600 patients led to FDA approval of golimumab for psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. One study appeared in the July 29, 2017 issue of the Journal of Rheumatology, and the other was published in the November 2017 issue of Arthritis & Rheumatology.
Golimumab is also available in an injectable form, typically taken every four weeks; whether you receive it via injection or via infusion depends on the specifics and severity of your disease, as well as personal preference. As with all medications, there are potential side effects of golimumab, including serious infections.
While you may not need a TNF-inhibitor to control your disease, it's encouraging to know there is now an option for a short-but-sweet infusion that won’t control your calendar.