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What Are Biologics?

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A doctor wearing blue latex gloves holds a glass vial of a liquid biologic drug

The most basic definition of a biologic drug is a medicine that is a direct result of living organisms, which is administered under the skin (subcutaneously), into muscle tissue (intramuscularly), or through a vein (intravenously). Scientists synthesize biologic medications that are used to prevent, treat, and cure disease. 

Other terms you might hear from your doctor could be biologic therapy, biological therapy, biologics, biologicals, biopharmaceuticals, or gene therapy, but they all point to the same thing—medicine derived from living cells. Biologic medicines represent the findings of cutting-edge biomedical research. These focused treatment options could be a game-changer when it comes to dealing with your chronic health condition.

How Biologics Work

Biologic drugs are made from proteins that can be quickly broken down and rendered ineffective by the body’s natural digestive processes. They also tend to be more sensitive to heat and light than traditional medications. So instead of being taken by mouth, biologics are administered in other, more controlled ways. 

In general, biologics work to counteract natural systems in the body that are either impaired, overactive, or otherwise functioning in a way that is harmful to the patient. So, for instance, a biologic therapy might prevent inflammation, slow down overactive muscles or glands, or prevent unchecked cell growth. These are some of the root causes of many common chronic or autoimmune conditions. A biologic can help to keep the disease at bay by preventing its effects.

On the whole, biologic therapies are more targeted than traditional treatments. Instead of potentially affecting different parts of a patient’s immune or other body system, biologics might block a specific receptor. Every biologic therapy has its own purpose, and we can’t touch on every treatment available, but be sure to speak with your healthcare provider and the staff at Ohio Infusion Services for any questions specific to your treatment.

Types of Conditions Treated Using Biologics

Biologic treatments can treat a wide array of conditions or be used to prevent disease, such as in the case of a vaccine. Antitoxins, hormone replacement therapies, immunosuppressants, cancer treatments, and specific gene therapies are all examples of biologic therapies—the list is extensive. 

At Ohio Infusion Services, biologics are used to treat many conditions, including:

Ohio Infusion Services offers three types of biologic therapies: 

  • IV infusions: The medicine is given intravenously and helps to stop symptoms of autoimmune diseases and other chronic health conditions.
  • IVIg infusions: Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) infusion therapies are administered intravenously and are used to treat immunodeficiency and autoimmune diseases.
  • Biologic injections: The drug is injected under the skin or directly into muscle tissue to treat allergic and autoimmune conditions.

What to Expect from Biologic Therapy

Depending on your specific treatment, biologics are generally delivered once every 2 or 4 weeks with potentially reduced frequency after the initial round of therapy. Dosage may depend on age and body weight. Biologics immediately set to work in your system, but you may not see or feel results right away.

In all reality, it could take days or weeks to feel the full effect of the medication on your condition—every patient’s body can react differently, even to proven treatments. The time frame is also heavily dependent on the medication and the condition being treated. A comprehensive, upfront discussion with your physician and OIS staff is the best way to ensure that you go into your treatment with a positive outlook balanced by realistic expectations.

During your initial treatment at Ohio Infusion Services, you will be accompanied by our professional medical staff who will explain your biologic treatment and let you know what to expect. They will ensure that you are aware of any potential side effects prior to administering treatment, and will closely monitor how you tolerate the drug.

All of our treatments are always given in a private suite. If you experience any type of reaction, our on-site physician will be present to monitor and assess what you’re feeling, as well as to administer any necessary treatment. You’ll have full privacy in your suite to recover from the shot.

Biologic Therapy Side Effects & Risks

Every treatment comes with possible side effects, but if your doctor is prescribing a biologic therapy then they believe that the positive side effects will outweigh any potential negatives. That said, it’s good to have a realistic idea of what to expect after your treatment, and to know what signs to look for that could indicate the need for follow-up or immediate medical attention.

Common side effects of biologic drugs include injection site reactions such as:

  • Redness
  • Itching
  • Swelling
  • Pain

The above are only a cause for concern if symptoms do not dissipate on their own over the course of 5 days or more. Headache, flushing, nausea, or rash could indicate a slightly more serious reaction, and if you experience any of the following symptoms, get to a hospital right away for evaluation:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Severe allergic reaction
  • Chest pain or tightness
  • Fever or chills
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Swelling of the face and hands

These more serious symptoms are rare—biologic drugs are well-researched, well-tested, and generally well-tolerated. But every individual is different and reactions can vary greatly. Another key side effect to be aware of is that, like any immunosuppressive drug, biologics weaken your immune system, making you more susceptible to infection and illness. Taking the necessary precautions to avoid exposure and employing good hygiene practices can prevent avoidable illness. There is also the slim possibility that previous infectious illnesses can return, such as hepatitis B or tuberculosis. Your doctor will run tests to determine if this is a risk for you prior to approving treatment.

Biologic therapies generally help to relieve feelings of fatigue, but in some cases the tiredness may increase. For more mild allergic reactions, your doctor may suggest a cold compress, antihistamine medicine, steroid cream, anti-inflammatory or pain medication to ease any discomfort. Staying in close communication with your doctor will ensure that you are both aware of the symptoms you’re experiencing and working to alleviate them or adjust your treatment if necessary. Symptoms of your treatment shouldn’t impede daily life more than the illness being treated.

How to Prepare for a Biologic Treatment

After discussing treatment with your doctor and settling on a biologic therapy, you’ll need to decide where to receive your treatment. If you’d like to work with Ohio Infusion Services, your physician will need to issue a referral to our facility. This is mandatory—it ensures that you have already been made aware of what's involved and are sure that this is a treatment course you’re prepared to undergo.

Once we receive your online form submission indicating your interest, our professional staff will be in touch to iron out the details. On the day of your treatment we always recommend that you are well-rested, well-hydrated, and that you’ve eaten to maintain a balanced blood sugar level. Ensuring that the basics are in order will give your system a boost as it accepts treatment and begins the healing process. Wearing comfortable clothes and keeping a flexible schedule on treatment day is also a good idea.

Trusted Care from Ohio Infusion Services

Biologics have been proven to be safe and successful treatment options for so many patients dealing with autoimmune conditions—now it’s your turn. If your doctor recommends a biologic therapy and you'd like to pursue treatment, Ohio Infusion Services is here to help. We know that dealing with a difficult health condition is exhausting, so we strive to make the process an easy one. While we wait for a referral from your physician, you can fill out a new patient form to let us know you're interested. Our staff will then reach out to you to discuss the next steps forward.

We will do our utmost to make your treatment experience as worry-free, comfortable, and convenient as possible. Get in touch to learn more about our infusion center.