Fibro Daily

Study: Shingles Risk Not Raised by Anti-TNF Agents

Fibro Daily March 6, 2013

A new study shows that rheumatoid arthritis patients who receive anti-tumor necrosis factor agents for treatments are not at a higher risk for shingles. The study was performed by Kevin L. Winthrop, MD, of Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, and colleagues.

From the article “RA: Anti-TNF Agents Don’t Up Shingles Risk” by Nancy Walsh, Staff Writer, MedPage Today, Published: March 06, 2013, Reviewed by F. Perry Wilson, MD, MSCE; Instructor of Medicine, Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania:

“Patients with RA have rates of herpes zoster two to three times higher than the general population, where rates range from 4 to 11 per 1,000 patient-years, depending on age.

Treatment with TNF inhibitors and other biologics has been associated with opportunistic infections, but studies thus far on whether these treatments heighten risks for shingles have had conflicting results.

To more fully explore this, Winthrop and colleagues analyzed the occurrence of this outcome among patients with RA and other inflammatory diseases enrolled in four large U.S. databases during the years 1998 to 2007.”

Researchers noted that, “For patients who develop herpes zoster while taking anti-TNF therapy, it is unclear if such therapy increases the risk of disseminated complications.” A low number of hospitalizations points to no, but the study did not consider this question.

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