Do Anti-TNFs Keep Patients Working?

Ankylosing spondylitis patients taking biologic drugs may do better at work

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Chronic pain can make it hard to do your job or to even get a job. Drugs may aid some chronic pain patients with their work troubles. But when it comes to ankylosing spondylitis, it's still unclear if certain drugs help.

Ankylosing spondylitis patients may miss less days of work if they take anti-TNF drugs.

However, while the review's findings showed some signs that anti-TNF drugs may improve work outcomes, current studies were not strong enough to make any clear conclusions, the authors said.

"See a doctor if pain is causing you troubles."

In their recent research, Merieke M ter Wee, of VU University Medical Center in Amsterdam, and colleagues set out to see if treatment with biologics (a newer class of drugs for treating inflammatory arthritis) had an effect on work outcomes in people with ankylosing spondylitis.

Specifically, the researchers wanted to see if biologic treatment affected patients' work status, absence from paid work and at-work productivity.

Anti-TNF drugs are a type of biologic drugs.

They act by blocking a protein called tumor necrosis factor, or TNF. This protein is involved in inflammation, which in turn leads to many of the problems associated with diseases like ankylosing spondylitis and rheumatoid arthritis.

Through their review of past studies, the Dutch researchers found evidence that patients missed less work when taking at least one of three anti-TNF drugs: Enbrel (etanercept), Remicade (infliximab) and Humira (adalimumab). However, most of the studies did not show a significant different in absence from work.

In addition, there was evidence that anti-TNF treatment helped with work status (employed versus not employed). But again, the studies were not strong. Specifically, the studies reviewed looked only at patients with long-term ankylosing spondylitis and did not follow patients for long periods of time.

Future research should focus on the effects of biologic drugs on work participation in larger populations and in patients with early ankylosing spondylitis, they said.

The review - which included nine studies involving 961 patients with ankylosing spondylitis - was published September 6 in the Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
September 23, 2012
Last Updated:
September 25, 2012