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    Infection risk from biologics deserves careful scrutiny

    Denver — Although relatively healthy patients taking biologic drugs for psoriasis generally face a low risk of infection, an expert says, patients with additional risk factors should proceed cautiously.

    Because biologic drugs impact the immune system, says Kenneth B. Gordon, M.D., the most important safety question physicians and patients usually ask is whether these drugs increase infection risks. However, he adds, discussing safety and risks outside the context of biologic benefits may needlessly alarm patients. Dr. Gordon is a professor of dermatology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago.

    Physicians cannot assess the safety of a treatment for a particular patient in a vacuum, Dr. Gordon says. The way a physician interprets data strongly impacts what he or she tells patients about biologic drugs’ safety.

    “We try to generalize. But the most important thing is to think about the patient in front of you,” he says.

    With any therapy, Dr. Gordon says, “We’re trying to improve the patient’s general health. And highlighting one little area — such as infection, malignancy or cardiovascular disease — as a single entity loses the big picture.”

    Next: Risk factors

     

    John Jesitus
    John Jesitus is a medical writer based in Westminster, CO.

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