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COVID-19 & Biologics: Patients Share their Experience

Jun 4, 2020 • 1 comment

Carenity conducted a survey to measure the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on access to specific, treatment-related information for chronic disease patients undergoing biologic therapy. Biologic therapy (also known as biotherapy or biological therapy) is a form of treatment using biologics, or products derived from living organisms and biological processes, with the aim of treating diseases or maintaining good health (yeasts, microbes, genes, cells, tissue, etc.). They are often used in the treatment of inflammatory diseases such as ankylosing spondylitis, rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease, among others.

COVID-19 & Biologics: Patients Share their Experience

721 patients responded to our survey

721 patients undergoing biotherapy in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States participated in our survey conducted from April 2nd to May 26th, 2020. 

Respondents are mostly women (79%) with an average age of 49 years.

chronicconditions

The majority of respondents have ankylosing spondylitis (43%), rheumatoid arthritis (26%), Crohn’s disease (17%), psoriatic arthritis (16%), and psoriasis (13%). 

Most respondents are taking TNF inhibitors, which include medications such as etanercept (ENBREL), infliximab (REMICADE), adalimumab (HUMIRA), certolizumab pegol (CIMZIA) and golimumab (SIMPONI):

Biologics

Patients have remained in contact with their doctor during the pandemic

55% of patients spoke with their doctor about COVID-19 and their biologic therapy. More specifically, 28% discussed it with their doctor as part of their usual care, 19% contacted their doctor specifically to talk about it, and 8% had their doctor reach out to them to speak about it.

Of the patients who were in contact with their doctor, the majority (72%) were advised to continue their biologic therapy as usual. 27% were instructed to stop taking their biologic therapy immediately if they developed COVID-19 symptoms and 25% to stop taking the biologic therapy immediately if they had been in contact with someone who had COVID-19. Only 6% were told to stop taking their biologic therapy immediately. 

92% of these patients who received specific guidance from their doctor followed it to the letter.

81% of patients have continued their biotherapy as usual during the pandemic

Although the vast majority of patients have continued to take their treatment as usual, almost 1 in 5 patients changed the way they take their biotherapy. Of these patients, 8% have even stopped their treatment altogether.


treatment_modifications

Many patients sought to further inform themselves on biotherapy and COVID-19

Besides the doctor treating them for their chronic illness, many patients looked to other information sources to inform themselves on biologic treatment in the context of COVID-19. Patients who discussed COVID-19 and their biologic treatment with their doctor were more likely to consult other sources of information to learn about biotherapies in the context of COVID-19 (79% vs. 68%), such as health websites like Carenity (41%), health authority websites (33%), or another healthcare professional (28%).

information_sources

While generally patients reported feeling well informed (71%), those who spoke with their doctor were more likely to feel they had been exposed to conflicting information related to the use of their biologic medications during the outbreak.

Patients share their concerns and look for more information

A number of respondents share their concerns about taking a course of biotherapy during the COVID-19 outbreak:

I’m worried about facing a shortage of my treatment or no longer being able to take it normally as I usually do, because I can't see myself living with the pain I experienced while in lockdown. I am also afraid of the risks of infection linked to my treatment. I fear the outside world.
(26 year old male patient with ankylosing spondylitis in France)
 
I worry that I don't know 100% if I can go to work... and what if I really am an at-risk patient and if so, why?
(50 year old female patient with ankylosing spondylitis in Spain)
 
“There is just not enough data on people taking biologics who have contracted COVID-19 and their outcome. There are so few of us as compared to the general population. I have gotten mixed information from social media sites regarding doctors’ responses to this subject.”
(53 year old female psoriatic arthritis patient in the US)
 
“I’m concerned about taking an immunosuppressive injection at a time when the virus is so active and affects people with lowered immunity adversely. It means you have to be extra careful and take every precaution.”
(72 year old male patient with rheumatoid arthritis in the UK)
 
Respondents also shared what further information they would like to know, asking questions like:
  • What are the precise risks of catching the virus patients on biologic therapy?
  • What will happen if I catch COVID-19?
  • What should I be doing to protect myself during the lockdown?
  • Can I go back to work safely?
  • How to continue protecting myself when the lockdown ends?

 

Survey conducted by Carenity among 721 chronic patients undergoing biotherapy in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Are you worried about the impact of the virus on your health post-lockdown? What has your experience been on biologic therapy during and after lockdown?

Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions below!

avatar Courtney Johnson

Author: Courtney Johnson, Community manager UK & US

Courtney is Community Manager for Carenity’s UK and US platforms. Her role is to facilitate discussion and answer questions among Carenity’s English-speaking members. She also assists in the editing and... >> Learn more

Comments

miccmill
on 6/9/20

How many people answering this survey have contracted COVID19? And were they on biologics at the time?

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