Tests of new treatment for arthritis promising

Arthritis is a painful, debilitating disease that affects millions of people in the U.S. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 50 million people in the U.S. have been diagnosed with some form of arthritis, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and related diseases. Fortunately, although these conditions can prevent individuals from working, those who suffer from them may be eligible for Social Security Disability benefits.

In recent years, researchers have been working to develop new treatments to combat the effects of arthritis. The results of a new clinical trial have medical experts hopeful that they have discovered a way to prevent the symptoms of arthritis over the long term.

The trial at issue involved the experimental drug apremilast, which is manufactured by the drug company Celgene. Previously untreated arthritis patients who took either 20 or 30 milligrams of the drug twice each day over 16 weeks saw a significant improvement in their symptoms, which included joint pain and swelling. Those who remained on the drug for a year continued to see improvement in their symptoms. Researchers presented their findings on the drug to the annual meeting of the American College of Rheumatology, which was held in San Diego. The Food and Drug Administration is expected to decide whether to approve the drug for use in the U.S. sometime in March of 2014.

Apremilast works by preventing the production of a particular protein in the body. This protein, known as PDE4, plays a role in causing both psoriasis and arthritis.

The drug is particularly noteworthy because it is simple to take and has few serious side effects. Some other biologic drugs have proven to be effective in treating arthritis, but come at a high cost to patient health. Specifically, they suppress patients' immune systems, leaving them vulnerable to infections such as tuberculosis. Patients on apremilast, however, reported only minor side effects, such as nausea, headaches and diarrhea. In addition, the drug is not injected, but rather administered in easy to swallow pills.

Rheumatologists are optimistic that apremilast could prove to be a game changer for patients who are battling severe arthritis. Only time will tell whether the drug will be approved for widespread use by the FDA, but the results of this late stage clinical trial are encouraging. Not only does the drug appear to be effective, it also appears to offer substantial safety benefits.

If you suffer from arthritis or another debilitating condition and are unable to work, contact an experienced Social Security Disability attorney.