SAMJ: South African Medical Journal
versão On-line ISSN 2078-5135
versão impressa ISSN 0256-9574
TARR, G; HODKINSON, B e REUTER, H. Superheroes in autoimmune warfare: Biologic therapies in current South African practice. SAMJ, S. Afr. med. j. [online]. 2014, vol.104, n.11, pp.787-791. ISSN 2078-5135. http://dx.doi.org/10.7196/SAMJ.8947.
Biologic drugs targeting immune cells or cytokines underlying systemic inflammation have dramatically improved outcomes in patients with rheumatological and autoimmune diseases. Nine biologic drugs are currently available in South Africa (SA) - all showing good efficacy and safety profiles. Their high cost and potential adverse events preclude them from being used as first-line agents. They are therefore indicated for severe disease refractory to standard therapies, and their use must be initiated by a specialist. The most important adverse effect of this class of drugs is infection and, in SA, tuberculosis is of particular concern. As new targets in the immune system are identified, new biologics will be developed. The current challenges are to optimise standard care for all patients with autoimmune diseases, and to offer the appropriate biologic to patients with refractory disease.