December 2021 Arthritis News Roundup

The Arthritis Foundation is your trusted source for arthritis-related news and COVID updates that affect people with arthritis. Here’s a wrap-up of the headlines from this past month. 

The Latest in COVID-19 News & Arthritis 

Omicron Surge Brings Highest Rate of Coronavirus Cases 

The United States is reporting the highest seven-day average of new coronavirus infections since the start of the pandemic as the highly transmissible omicron variant continues surging across the country. Read more. 

COVID Antiviral Drugs Are Here, Remain Scarce 

Pfizer’s Paxlovid and Merck’s molnupiravir are both oral antiviral pills that can be taken at home to keep patients out of the hospital. They’re meant to be taken within the first few days of having COVID-19, and they reduce the risk of hospitalization and death by up to 88% for Paxlovid and 30% for molnupiravir. Supply is tight, and the rollout varies from state to state. Learn more. 

CDC Recommends Pfizer, Moderna Vaccines Over J&J’s 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed its recommendations for Covid-19 vaccines to make clear that shots made by Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech are preferred over Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine. Learn why. 

COVID Vaccine Booster Recommended for Teens 

Health officials authorized booster shots for 16- and 17-year-olds in response to an increase in COVID-19 cases, along with concerns about upcoming winter months. Read more. 

FDA Plans to Allow 12- to 15-Year-Olds to Receive Pfizer Boosters 

The Food and Drug Administration is planning to broaden eligibility for coronavirus vaccine booster shots, allowing 12- to 15-year-olds to receive third doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine. Learn more.

 

In Other Arthritis News 

FDA Adds Strict Safety Warnings on Arthritis Drugs 

The FDA has added its strictest warning to the labels of drugs from Pfizer, Eli Lilly and AbbVie belonging to a class of anti-inflammatory treatments called JAK inhibitors, citing risk of serious health issues and death in patients 50 and over. Read more. 

First JAK Inhibitor OK’d for Ankylosing Spondylitis 

The FDA approved tofacitinib (Xeljanz, Xeljanz XR) for treating active ankylosing spondylitis in adults. Tofacitinib is the first JAK inhibitor approved for ankylosing spondylitis. Learn more.

Upadacitinib (Rinvoq) Gains Psoriatic Arthritis as Second FDA-Approved Indication 

The FDA has approved a 15-mg extended-release tablet of upadacitinib (Rinvoq) for adults with psoriatic arthritis who had an inadequate response or intolerance to one or more anti-tumor necrosis factor drugs. The approval is the second indication given by the agency for the selective JAK inhibitor upadacitinib, which was previously approved for rheumatoid arthritis (RA) in 2019. Find out more. 

AbbVie Updates Upadacitinib Prescription Guidelines Amidst Safety Concerns 

AbbVie recently announced an amendment to its prescribing Information for upadacitinib. The drug, a selective JAK inhibitor, now states that it is intended for adults with moderate-to-severe rheumatoid arthritis who have had inadequate response or intolerance to at least one TNF blocker. Read more. 

Mayo Clinic Researchers Use AI, Biomarkers to Personalize RA Treatment 

Treatment options for rheumatoid arthritis have often relied on trial and error. Now Mayo Clinic researchers are exploring the use of artificial intelligence and pharmacogenomics to predict how patients will respond to treatments, and to personalize care. Learn more. 

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