Saturday, July 18, 2009

Humira Humira

Humira and other biologics have been in the news a lot lately due to the legislation about patents and development of generics.  Obviously, I'm all for lower-cost alternatives so I hope that a balance can be struck between making it cost-effective (read: sufficiently profitable) for companies to keep working on RA meds and making it affordable for patients to get medication.  

I've now had 5 shots of Humira (2.5 months worth), and I think it's helping.  With RA, it's so hard to know- the disease fluctuates naturally, so it takes a little bit of what my dad would call "long term data" (my dad loves data) to determine if you're actually getting better.  

Things I've noticed:
-I have less large joint pain- my hips, shoulders, and knees have been much better.  
-I have less intense inflammation- my joints have not been doing the hot and swollen thing quite as much.  It's not absent, but it's definitely less frequent.  
-My sedimentation rate has decreased by about 15 points.  

I have had to take prednisone a couple times for flares, and I am taking Arava (Leflunomide) as well, but I would say that the addition of Humira has definitely been a benefit.  

My insurance forces me to get my Humira from a mail order pharmacy which sends it express mail, packed in styrofoam and icepacks to the hilt.  I think it's weird, but since when does insurance make sense?  Speaking of insurance, I almost choked when I saw my recent receipt for a three month supply of Humira: 

In case you can't see it, that states that I pay $62.50, while my insurance company pays... $4,570.31.  Which is insane.  I'm assuming that the drug name "adalimumab" means "from the eyelashes of unicorns" or "leprechaun drool" because I can't think of any other reason for it to cost quite that much.  

The injection pen is pretty sweet (not four thousand dollars sweet, but cool).  It makes the whole 'stabbing myself in the guts' procedure much easier, since I only need to graze the top of the thing to get it to inject.  I do my injections about 2 inches away from my belly button in my abdomen, requiring a hilarious sequence of contortions that allow me to a) hold my belly taut enough to inject, b) hold and push the pen top, and c) squash my boobs down so I can see the window in the pen to know when I'm done.  It stings like a bitch- not the needle itself, but the medicine going in.  I usually put a little tiny icepack (from my Humira introductory prize pack) on the injection site afterwards because I'm a weenie and the cold feels good.  

I always do this when my boyfriend is not home, because it freaks him out.  Not the needle, but just the fact that I have to do it.  I keep my biohazard disposal box in the same place I keep my tampons (regarded as "girl cabinet") but the Humira is still there in the fridge, staring at him.  He said something this morning about how I "never feel well" and it hurt me a little to be characterized that way- I'm doing the best I freaking can, you know?  RA has been a bit of a speedbump in our relationship, not because he blames me but because he gets frustrated the same way I do, and I get irritated when I feel pitied.  He gets resentful when I hide that I'm hurting, but when I'm honest I feel treated like a sick person.  Etc, etc.  We're trying to figure this stupid thing out together, and it's a long road.  I figure it's the least I can do to spare him the "sick girl" image of me sticking needles in my belly.  


  1. Holy crows, that was funny! What I find even more ridiculous is that my insurance will only cover the needle, not the pen, but that they both COST my insurance company the same. So, basically someone over there in the decision-making department is one sadistic so-and-so!

  2. My doctor is looking into Humira for me too. I don't know if I can afford another $60 medicine (I pay that much for Lyrica), but hopefully, it will not be too bad. I just want improvement. It has eight months on sulfazine and plaquenil (spellings???) and no relief in sight.

    I can understand what RA does to a relationship. My husband seems to think if he denies my condition, it will somehow go away. I am sure that those bumps get less bumpy at some point. For now, you just have to hang on tight.

  3. I too understand what RA does to a relationship as well. My husband went through the 5 stages on my RA. Mostly we fiught about the changes that he has to make in order to accomodate me. I think he's learning, though, that it's not fair to make me guilty for it. He recently bought me a ChiliPad ( which was for one really sweet and it helps a lot and for two stopped us fighting about the temperature of the bed. :)

  4. hi! i used to give myself injections 3x/week the abdomen...this is hilarious. i used to just get upset about it but this made me laugh! also, i think you have a really good attitude towards your relationship. it is difficult. -robin

  5. First of all, the name of your blog just cracks me up! Second, I'm on Enbrel and can completely sympathize with what you have just described. I don't do my injections in front of my hubby b/c it completely freaks him out...although, he has offered a few times to do it for me (I am a MAJOR needle phobe. I've passed out from TB tests to lab sticks to Remicade infusions...and my first Enbrel injection!) but each offer to stick me is followed by the shifty-eyed panicky he is quickly saying a prayer that I don't agree to his offer. I just laugh it off and say, "No, honey, it's okay! I can do it!" and then lock myself in the bathroom and privately hyperventilate.

    But, damn, if this med isn't heaven-sent. Even if I do have to psych myself up once a week and try not to screech like a banshee from my perch on the side of the tub in order to fool my husband and my son into thinking that mommy is brave! :) And, I like knowing that they think I am! I guarantee your BF feels the same about you!