August 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 and Arthritis

FDA Gives Full Approval for Pfizer COVID Vaccine

The FDA approved the Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on August 23, the first vaccine against the novel coronavirus to receive full approval. The vaccine is still under emergency use authorization (EUA) for adolescents ages 12 to 15. It will be marketed as Comirnaty and is authorized for use in individuals ages 16 and older to prevent COVID-19.

FDA and CDC Advisory Committee Recommend Third Doses of mRNA Vaccines for Immunocompromised People

The FDA has authorized third doses of COVID-19 vaccines for certain people, including rheumatology patients being actively treated with high-dose corticosteroids, alkylating agents, antimetabolites, tumor-necrosis factor (TNF) blockers and other biologic agents that are immunosuppressive or immunomodulatory. In lockstep the following day, a CDC advisory committee voted to approve the recommendation for a booster following the FDA’s authorization last week of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines for those with weakened immune systems. Learn more about how this affects people with arthritis in our latest FAQs.

Get the latest on Arthritis & COVID-19 vaccines FAQs in our Care & Connect resource hub.

Shortage of Actemra Supply Announced by Genentech

Drug maker Genentech announced a shortage of intravenous (IV) forms of tocilizumab (Actemra) due to increased demand to treat COVID-19 cases. Many patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA), juvenile idiopathic arthritis and other diseases use the medication. A supply of the subcutaneous injectable form is still available, although the situation continues to evolve. Patients who are concerned about their tocilizumab treatment should contact their rheumatologist to discuss options. Read details here.


In Other Arthritis News

Back, Lower Limb and Upper Limb Pain Among U.S. Adults, 2019

The majority of Americans — 58.9% of adults — are living with pain.  Back pain is the most common type of pain, affecting nearly 2 out of 5 U.S. adults in the last three months, according to the findings from a report released by the National Center for Health Statistics.

Learn more about back pain and its potential causes. You can also tune in to the Live Yes! With Arthritis Podcast episode: Take Control of Back Pain.

Researchers Discover On/Off Switch for Inflammatory Pain

The Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, the research unit of New York State health care provider Northwell Health, may have found a way to control neurons that drive inflammation. In a preclinical study, scientists presented a new approach to treating diseases that involve inflammation and pain, like arthritis.

For more pain management resources and tools, visit

Sex, Gender Differences May Play a Role in PsA and axSpA Treatment

Sex and gender differences between patients with psoriatic arthritis (PsA) and axial spondyloarthritis (axSpA) may explain why women experience longer diagnostic delays, higher burden and lower drug survival in these diseases. Read more.

Impaired Fertility Linked to Arthritis Before and During Reproductive Years in Men

Diagnosis of inflammatory arthritis, like RA, diagnosed before or after peak reproductive years is associated with higher rates of infertility, poor sperm quality, fathering fewer children and involuntary childlessness. Read the study.

Muscle Function and Composition Linked With Knee Pain Trajectory

Researchers find three distinct pain trajectories that could help in tailoring exercise programs based on the level of knee pain. The study “highlights the importance of strengthening muscle in pain management and is crucially important for increasing the confidence to exercise in people with pain. The study team discovered that greater relative lean mass, muscle strength and quality, but not absolute lean mass, decreased the risk for worse pain courses. Learn more.

Diet, Exercise in Older Adults With Knee OA Have Long-Term Benefits

A new study published in Arthritis Care & Research reports that older adults with knee osteoarthritis (OA) who underwent lengthy diet and exercise interventions reported less pain and maintained weight loss years after a 1.5-year Intensive Diet and Exercise for Arthritis program ended. The researchers state this data supports the use of a variety of nonpharmacologic options that can have a long-lasting effect on managing knee arthritis. Read the study.

Learn more about the research and initiatives the Arthritis Foundation is spearheading to advance the treatment and research for OA.

Risk for Total Hip and Knee Arthroplasty Not Reduced by NSAIDs, DMARDs, and/or TNF Inhibitors in Patients With PsA and AS

Administration of any combination of disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), tumor necrosis factor inhibitors (TNFi), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) does not reduce the risk for total hip and total knee arthroplasty (THA/TKA) in patients with ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and psoriatic arthritis (PsA), according to study results published in The Journal of Rheumatology.

Read more about total knee and hip arthroplasty. If you’re exploring whether surgery is right for you, listen to the podcast episode on Arthritis Pain & Surgery.

Cannabis Use Tripled in Rheumatic Patients Over 5 Years

Approximately 18% of patients in a rheumatic disease registry used cannabis in 2019, a 6.3% increase since 2014. According to data published in Arthritis Care & Research, the highest prevalence occurring in states where its use is legal. Read the data.

Recommendations for Dosing and Administering Medical Cannabis for Chronic Pain

In the Journal of Cannabis Research, the Global Task Force on Dosing and Administration of Medical Cannabis in Chronic Pain — which included 20 global experts from nine countries — published consensus-based recommendations on how to dose and administer medical cannabis for chronic pain using a modified Delphi process.

The Arthritis Foundation developed guidance for adults with arthritis who are exploring CBD use as a treatment for managing pain and other symptoms of arthritis. Learn more about what you should know about CBD before trying.

Register now if you haven’t yet for the Lower Body Joint Pain Solutions webinar on September 1 at 6:00p.m. ET.

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