Biologic Drugs Reduce Economic Burden from Rheumatoid, Psoriatic Arthritis

Productivity and absenteeism improved in patients with chronic inflammatory arthritides.

Productivity and absenteeism improved in patients with chronic inflammatory arthritides.

The use of biologic drugs in patients suffering from conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis can have a far reaching impact on patients.

A study recently presented at the European League Against Rheumatism Annual Congress found that workplace both absenteeism and productivity in patients with chronic inflammatory arthritides can be improved from biologics. Rheumatic conditions are the most oft cited reasons for workplace absence, which suggests biologics could significantly decrease the economic burden from these conditions.

Diseases like rheumatoid arthritis (RA), ankylosing spondylitis (AS), and psoriatic arthritis (PsA) carry significant patient and economic burdens, which causes one-fifth of people with these conditions to change careers, one-third to stop working within 2 years of onset, and half to become unable to work within 10 years, the study noted.

"Within a few years of diagnosis, a significant proportion of those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and psoriatic arthritis are no longer able to work,” study investigator Cécile Gaujoux Viala, MD, said in a press release. “This has major financial consequences for individuals and society, and is one of the reasons the indirect costs are higher for rheumatic disease than other diseases."

The study analyzed 15 randomized controlled trials of 7 controlled cohorts with 15,881 patients with RA, AS, and PsA to assess the impact of biologics on the workplace. The results were evaluated for accumulated workdays missed, the number of different patients who missed work, productivity impact, and loss of employment, compared with 9713 patients treated with non-biologic drugs.

Regardless of the heterogeneity of the data, the researchers concluded that biologics significantly decreased accumulated missed workdays and the number of patients who missed work, while workplace productivity was improved.

“Our systematic review demonstrates the beneficial effects of biologics on absenteeism and presenteeism, leading us to suggest that the high costs of these treatments could in fact be at least partly offset by the savings they deliver in indirect costs,” Dr. Viala said.