Rheumatoid Arthritis drugs may cause eczema

A study of the potent TNF-alpha blocking drugs carried out in the Netherlands over the past couple of years suggests that there may be a correlation between developing skin conditions such as infections and eczema, and the use of these drugs.

The study carried out by Dr. Marcel Flendrie and colleagues, based at Radboud University, Nijmegen Medical Centre spent over 2 years following 289 patients using the TNF-alpha blocking drugs to treat rheumatiod arthritis.

TNF-alpha blocking drugs include drugs such as Enbrel, Remicade and Humira and an experimental drug Lenercept.

A further 289 control subjects were matched with the study individuals. The control group all had rheumatoid arthritis but had never used any of the TNF-alpha blockers.

Results reported in the medical journal, Arthritis Research and Therapy indicate that 72 of the treated patients developed skin problems whilst only 37 patients from the control group developed any sort of skin problem.

TNF –alpha blockers work by interfering with the immune system which may logically explain why they caused skin problems in many of the people using them.

Along with the skin infections and eczema, drug-related skin ulcers and malignant tumors were also reported.

Flendrie’s group concluded that more studies are needed to look into these skin disorders “because they are a clinically significant problem in rheumatoid arthritis patients receiving TNF-alpha blocking therapy,”

Mel Sinclair, RN