Switching From a Biologic to a Biosimilar
I began my first biologic treatment, Humira, just over a year ago.
After 11 months, I had a follow-up appointment with my rheumatologist’s office. My prescription expired after one year, so it needed to be renewed. That was when they broke the news to me, I would no longer be using Humira.
One year ago, I started on Humira - one shot every two weeks. It has been a long year with slow progression, as expected. I was told to expect up to six months before it even began to work for me.
It worked quickly, and helped a lot
Fortunately, it began to work quicker than that for me and I have gradually felt better and better through each injection cycle to the point where I have reassumed the capability to do most activities I enjoyed before my diagnosis.
I understand why my coverage was changing, it comes down to cost. My pharmaceutical coverage is subsidized by a government program, and who is surprised to hear they are trying to find ways to cut costs? Certainly not me.
I like to use the analogy of choosing generic brand tissues instead of Kleenex. I almost always choose the generic brand over the popular brand name to save a buck or two, so I can reason with doing the same to save a few hundred bucks each month for every person using this medication if it's equally effective.
I was nervous about the switch
After so much trial (and mostly) error with previous medications, there was no guarantee this one would work for me. There wasn’t really a feasible alternative, so it was a choice between making the switch or paying out of pocket for something I can’t afford.
Amgevita was the biosimilar proposed for me from a list of five eligible alternate treatment options. Based on evidence from usage overseas, my doctor believed it was the best fit for me.
The good news given to me was it should be a seamless transition from one to the other. They are both adalimumab so my body shouldn’t require a transition period like there is when switching to another biologic.
The better news I was presented with is Amgevita lacks a particular compound found in Humira which should decrease the pain endured during the injection.
I am happy to report the above to be partially true.
It unquestionably hurts less.
With Humira, injection day sucked
The injection itself wasn't as bad as the ensuing hours when I could feel the medication working its way through my bloodstream - and quite painfully.
Now with Amgevita, I barely feel the injection happen and the ensuing pain is very minimal. I no longer need to rest for hours following my shot.
Unfortunately, it wasn't a seamless transition in terms of effectiveness. The first month I felt a major regression and it felt like my treatment had been set back months.
Gradual improvements are happening
Since then, I've felt gradual improvements with each injection cycle. With Humira, I gradually felt better and better with each cycle and gladly that improvement is happening quicker with Amgevita.
I'm continuing with my greatest theme since my diagnosis: hope.
Once again, I am waiting and hoping. This time I feel the most optimistic.
And if it hurts and costs less, I’m all for it.
What has your experience been like with biologics, or switching biologic medication?
Do you have a question about axial spondyloarthritis you have been trying to get answered?