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Answers tagged biologic: Page 1 of 1

Brenda from Edmonton asks: Can I get the MMR vaccine while on methotrexate?

In most cases, we feel getting MMR on methotrexate is ok, even though it is an attenuated live vaccine.  MMR should not be given to those on biologics however.  For a full list of our vaccination recommendations, please visit our vaccine webpage!


Hayley from Calgary asks: I have recently gotten sick and need to know if I should continue my methotrexate injections or hold them while I am sick ?

As a general rule, it’s ok to continue traditional DMARDs (examples: methotrexate, plaquenil, sulfasalazine, leflunomide) when sick, particularly anything mild without a fever or needing antibiotics.  For those on biologics, we generally recommend that they are held, particularly if you have a fever or require antibiotics, until you are feeling better.  However, during the COVID19 pandemic, we are often a little more cautious and it would be reasonable to hold any DMARD – traditional or biologic – until you are feeling better.  In most cases for methotrexate, this would mean missing one dose, which wouldn’t impact arthritis control for most individuals.


Norma from Alberta asks: I have stable lupus.  Can I get the COVID-19 vaccine?

Please visit our COVID-19 vaccine information page, which we will keep updating as more information becomes available.  At this time (January/2021), there is no information to suggest the currently available COVID-19 vaccines are unsafe for those with lupus or taking any medications for lupus.  That applies to all rheumatic conditions, in fact. If you are still not sure after reading the available information, please contact your rheumatologist.


Jonathan from Calgary asks: Is there any specific advice recommended for rheumatology patients and COVID-19?

Please click here to our page on COVID-19.  We will try to keep this information up to date, but the situation remains fluid.


Richard form Montreal asks: Is Xeljanz (tofacitinib) covered in Alberta?

Every province has slightly different rules for coverage of advanced therapies such as tofacinitib, and biologics.  That said, in most situations, working with your current rheumatologist, or your new rheumatologist if you are planning a move to Alberta, a solution is found to ensure you can continue to receive the treatment that makes you well.


Greg from Oakville asks: I need to know if I should skip my biologic injection due to illness.

It is recommended that for biologic DMARDs, patients delay the medication during a severe illness, particularly if they have a fever, or require antibiotics.


Jackie from Albuquerque asks: I am worried I may have been exposed to HIV.  I also have rheumatoid arthritis and am on a biologic.  I have tested negative for HIV, but could my biologic be interfering with the results?

There are a number of different tests for HIV.  Some could be impacted by a biologic in early infection, although data is not clear.  To be sure, it is best to discuss this with your physician and rheumatologist.  Conversely, it is important to be aware that being on a biologic can increase your risk of a more active HIV infection.


Elizabeth from Australia asks: I have rheumatoid arthritis and have been on traditional DMARDs.  My rheumatologist is now considering a biologic DMARD, but they are expensive.  In Alberta, how are biologic DMARDs paid for?  What is the wait time to a see a rheumatologist in Alberta?

Biologic DMARDs are very expensive, with most costing approximately $20,000 annually.  Alberta Health does not subsidize this cost directly, but currently, every Albertan is eligible to pay for medication insurance that would reduce out of pocket costs for biologics by about 90%.  For most patients in Alberta, rheumatologists and their team are able to work with patients to find a way to get the medications they need to ensure their health.

Wait times to see a rheumatologist vary in Alberta between Calgary and Edmonton, and even among rheumatologists.  However, most rheumatologists want to see patients with inflammatory arthritis within 3 months of a referral.

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