Biologics, What are they?

Drug Abuse | Syringe, pills with drug vials in background

Recently a number of drug commercials refer to the medication that they are advertising as a biologic. Sounds natural doesn’t it. I was sure the use of this word is trying to confuse the issue since vitamins, alternative medicine and other natural substances are so popular. Maybe not, but why use that word?

When you have competition, you position against it. It is like the ad by one of the leading toothpastes that says it will help re-mineralize teeth. Now, that sounds like trying to align with the alternative health information about what really decays teeth and what can be done for the health of your teeth and they are trying to say that their toothpaste will help build healthy teeth. But I can’t find anything in their potion that would allow the body to do that. Just look at the ingredients on the toothpaste tube.

But what about this word Biologic. Certainly the definition that comes to mind is – “or relating to biology or living organisms”. Sounds good. But then at the end of the commercial, they list off quite a few side effects some of which are downright scary. Are we supposed to be so afraid of psoriasis that we’d risk serious infections?

But there is a special definition of Biologic.  It is a Pharmacologic definition.

“Any substance, as a drug or vaccine, derived from animal products or other biological sources and used to treat or prevent disease.”

Okay, that sounds better than a chemical drug created in a laboratory. But let’s find an example of a biologic.

Arthritis drugs: In this case the Biologics are genetically-engineered proteins derived from human genes. Genetically engineered? – doesn’t sound so natural anymore.

These drugs are designed to inhibit specific components of the immune system that play pivotal roles in fueling the inflammation of arthritis. They block the protein that is found in the body’s immune system.

The truth is that biologics that come from animal or other biological sources come with all the co-factors of biology which in many cases are complex mixtures that are not easily identified. Thus, they can’t be made in the laboratory.

This is thus used to fight arthritis, psoriasis, crohn’s disease, etc.

But, aren’t there natural herbs, homeopathic remedies and essential oils, etc. that will directly help the immune system reduce inflammation?

What are the Side Effects of Biologics?

As with any drugs that suppress or blocks the immune system, biologic therapy increases infections and other diseases. I’m sure you’ve heard the rest of the side effects in the commercials.

There are a lot of drugs now called biologics. Is it the better choice? Or does it just sound that way in the commercials that are designed to get you to ask your doctor to try their drugs.

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