May 2021 Arthritis News Roundup

May has been a busy month for arthritis-related news and COVID updates that affect people with arthritis. Here’s a wrap-up of the headlines from this past month.

Taking Action For Better Access

Biologic drugs and therapies can slow the progression of arthritis and allow patients to improve quality of life but, too often, those therapies are rendered useless when insurance plans strip physicians of the ability to prescribe the most appropriate treatment without first forcing patients to try the therapies preferred by the insurance companies – a process known as “step therapy.”

In a new op-ed for The Hill, American College of Rheumatology President Dr. David Karp and Arthritis Foundation President & CEO Ann Palmer are urging Congress to address this issue by passing the Safe Step Act.

You can take action now by contacting your member of congress and asking them to support the Safe Step Act.

 Millions of Immunocompromised Americans May Not Be Fully Protected by Coronavirus Vaccines

Early research shows that 15-80% of people with certain medical conditions are generating few antibodies after receiving coronavirus vaccines. Read more.

Learn what precautions people with certain forms or arthritis or on certain medications should take once vaccinated. View the slideshow.

NIH to Study How COVID-19 Vaccines Work in People With Suppressed Immune Systems

After research suggested they develop fewer antibodies from coronavirus vaccines, the National Institutes of Health has launched a study to understand how people with immune disorders respond to COVID-19 vaccines. Find out more about the study.

ACR Updates COVID-19 Vaccine Guidance for Managing Patients With Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Diseases

Recently, guidance was updated to include new recommendations regarding mycophenolate, methotrexate, acetaminophen and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug timing considerations for patients with rheumatic diseases. Learn more.

FDA, CDC Lift Suspension of Johnson & Johnson COVID Vaccine

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration lifted a 10-day pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, but will issue a fact sheet to medical providers warning them of the potential for extremely rare but serious blood clots. Read more.

Majority of Parents Will Wait on Kids’ COVID Vaccine

Three-quarters of parents don’t plan to vaccinate their kids against COVID-19 when the FDA gives the go-ahead for younger children, according to a new survey of 1,258 parents. Many said they would wait a few months, but a full third said they don’t plan to vaccinate their kids at all. Find out more.

Got vaccine questions? Infectious disease and vaccine expert, Robert L. Murphy, MD, breaks down the severe risks of COVID-19 vaccines for people with arthritis and explains how to evaluate the true risk for yourself. Watch the Q&A.

Patients With Rheumatic Diseases Are More Likely to Avoid Health Care During COVID-19 Pandemic

Patients with certain forms of arthritis were more likely to avoid office visits and laboratory testing and discontinue DMARDs without physician indication during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a study published in The Journal of Rheumatology. Learn more.

Biologic Treatment Spacing Feasible for Some Rheumatic Disease Patients

Patients with rheumatic diseases who have stable disease remission or low disease activity might be able to reduce their biologic (b)DMARD treatment without disease flare by spacing their doses, BIOPURE findings show. Find out more.

Time Trends in Opioid Use Disorder Hospitalizations

A new study evaluates opioid use disorder–related hospitalizations and associated health care utilization outcomes in people with five common musculoskeletal diseases. Read the study’s findings.

Time to Screen for Older Patients’ Cannabis Use?

Cannabis use more than doubled over the past decade among Americans 50 and over, with nearly one in 10 now reporting usage over the past year, an analysis of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found. Read more. Read more.

Medical cannabis for arthritis pain relief is growing in popularity. Learn how to speak with your doctor about the benefits of medical marijuana. Get expert tips for speaking with your health care provider.

Telemedicine Is a Tool — Not a Replacement for a Doctor’s Touch

The pandemic has demonstrated that virtual medicine is great for many simple visits. But many of the new types of telemedicine being promoted by start-ups more clearly benefit providers’ and investors’ pockets, rather than yielding more convenient, high-quality and cost-effective medicine for patients. Find out more.

Clinicians ‘Should Be Cognizant of’ Racial, Cultural Disparities During RA Management

Clinicians should be aware of racial and cultural differences in the perception of health care and tailor their approach accordingly, and reduce potential health care disparities, noted a speaker at the 2021 Interdisciplinary Autoimmune Summit. Learn more.

Boosting the Presence of Darker Skin in Rheumatology Education

Studies are flagging racial and ethnic disparities in rheumatology training materials, pointing to a need to boost representation of darker skin tones and better educate physicians in evaluating this cohort. Not enough is known about these disparities in rheumatology education, despite the fact that minorities make up 40% of the population in the United States. Read more.

Arthritis uniquely affects marginalized segments of society. Their experiences are detailed in How It Hurts — the latest findings from the nearly 40,000 responses to the INSIGHTS survey. Read How It Hurts.

3D Biomaterial Used as ‘Sponge’ for Stem Cell Therapy to Reverse Arthritis

A new study of a 3D biomaterial scaffold design is showing promise, relieving pain and reversing arthritis in mice knee joints. The design slowly releases stem cells to ensure that implanted stem cells stick around. Read more about this study.

Improved Understanding of Damaging Immune Response in Rheumatoid Arthritis

Researchers within the Biomedicine Discovery Institute at Monash University have made a breakthrough in understanding the role played by high-risk immune genes associated with the development of rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Study results suggest that there may be an immune signature of RA development, providing a potential avenue for diagnostic development or a window of opportunity for therapeutic development. Learn more.

Shared Decision Making, Clinical Judgment Take Priority Where OA Guidelines Diverge

Shared decision making and clinical judgment are key to effectively managing osteoarthritis (OA) patients, especially when sets of OA guidelines disagree on the best course of action, noted a speaker at the American College of Rheumatology State-of-the-Art Clinical Symposium. Read more.

Stable, Supportive Shoes Reduce Walking Pain in Severe Knee OA

Wearing stable, supportive footwear reduces knee pain to a significantly greater extent than what’s felt with flat, flexible shoes in patients with severe knee osteoarthritis, according to results of a randomized, controlled trial presented at the OARSI 2021 World Congress. Learn more.

Products that are easy to use make life less painful for everyone. Find arthritis-friendly products that have earned the Arthritis Foundation Ease of Use seal and take the pain out of everyday chores. Search Ease of Use products.



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