An Important Appointment to Make (and Keep!) This Holiday Season

(BPT) – The pressure to prepare for the holidays can be intense – decorating your home, wrapping gifts, preparing family meals…

But imagine if your fingers were so swollen and stiff that it was difficult to open a jar – or if your joints were so sore that you struggled to carry a pan from the oven to the table. Add to that difficulty getting out of bed in the morning and you may begin to understand what the holidays may be like for someone living with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

“My favorite part of the holidays is crocheting and painting to make gifts for my family,” said Elizabeth, who was diagnosed with moderate to severe RA several years ago. “But I stopped when the pain in my fingers made it difficult to hold crocheting needles or a paintbrush. I knew I had to do something.”

RA is an autoimmune inflammatory disease marked by pain, swelling, stiffness, and reduced function of the joints. For people with moderate to severe RA, the disease can make daily activities difficult, such as getting up in the morning, climbing stairs, getting dressed, being able to care for one’s family or doing chores around the house. RA is three times more likely to affect women than men, and can occur at any age.

There are treatments that can help relieve symptoms, and past research suggests patients should begin treatment as early as possible. However, many people with RA are not getting the help they need.

“Treating moderate to severe RA early and appropriately can help manage this progressive disease,” said Grace Wright, M.D., Ph.D., Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine, NYU Langone Medical Center. “Medications that target the immune system, called biologics, are an important tool for doctors and patients alike. There are a number of biologics approved for use, including one called ORENCIA, that may work to relieve symptoms and slow the progression of joint damage.”

ORENCIA® (abatacept) is a prescription medicine that reduces signs and symptoms in adults with moderate to severe RA, including those who have not been helped enough by other medicines for RA. ORENCIA may prevent further damage to your bones and joints and may help your ability to perform daily activities. In adults, ORENCIA may be used alone or with other RA treatments other than tumor necrosis factor (TNF) antagonists. ORENCIA can cause serious side effects including serious infections. ORENCIA can make you more likely to get infections or make the infection that you have get worse. Some patients have died from these infections. Call your healthcare provider immediately if you feel sick or get any of the following signs of infection: fever; feel very tired; cough; feel flu-like; or warm, red or painful skin.

As is the case with most diseases, no one treatment works for everyone with moderate to severe RA. Your rheumatologist can help determine which therapy or combination of therapies may be appropriate for your individual needs.

It can be difficult to find the time to ask for help – particularly in the throes of a busy holiday schedule. But if you think you may be suffering from moderate to severe RA and have been postponing that appointment with your doctor, give yourself (and your family) the gift of making and keeping that appointment this holiday season.

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Important Safety Information

Inform your healthcare provider of the following, before you receive treatment with ORENCIA® (abatacept):

Infections: If you have any kind of infection even if it is small (such as an open cut or sore), an infection that is in your whole body (such as the flu), an infection that will not go away, or a history of infections that keep coming back. ORENCIA may make your immune system less able to fight infections, so you may be more likely to get infections or any infection you have may get worse.

Tuberculosis: If you have had tuberculosis (TB), a positive skin test for TB, or if you recently have been in close contact with someone who has had TB. If you get any of the symptoms of TB (a dry cough that does not go away, weight loss, fever, night sweats), call your healthcare provider right away. Before you start ORENCIA, your healthcare provider may examine you for TB or perform a skin test.

If you have or have had Viral Hepatitis. Before you use ORENCIA, your healthcare provider may examine you for hepatitis.

If you have a history of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary (lung) Disease (COPD).

If you are scheduled to have Surgery.

Allergies to the Ingredients of ORENCIA: The ingredients of intravenous (IV) ORENCIA are: abatacept, maltose, monobasic sodium phosphate, and sodium chloride for administration. The ingredients of subcutaneous (SC) ORENCIA are: abatacept, sucrose, poloxamer 188, monobasic sodium phosphate monohydrate, dibasic sodium phosphate anhydrous, and water for injection.

Vaccinations: If you have recently received a vaccination or are scheduled for any vaccination. If you are receiving ORENCIA® (abatacept), and for 3 months after you stop receiving ORENCIA, you should not take live vaccines.

Diabetes: If you have diabetes and use a blood glucose monitor to check your sugar levels. The infusion of ORENCIA contains maltose, a sugar that can give falsely high blood glucose readings with some monitors on the day you receive your infusion. Your healthcare provider may tell you to use a different way to monitor your blood sugar levels. ORENCIA® (abatacept) for SC injection does not contain maltose; therefore, you do not need to change the way you monitor your blood sugar if you are taking ORENCIA subcutaneously.

Pregnancy: If you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are thinking about becoming pregnant. It is not known if ORENCIA can harm your unborn baby.

Breastfeeding: You will need to decide to either breastfeed or receive treatment with ORENCIA, but not both.

If you Take Any Other Kinds of Medicine, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

If you are Taking Other Biologic Medicines to Treat RA such as: Enbrel® (etanercept), Humira® (adalimumab), Remicade® (infliximab), Kineret® (anakinra), Rituxan® (rituximab), Simponi® (golimumab), Cimzia® (certolizumab pegol), or Actemra® (tocilizumab). You may have a higher chance of getting a serious infection if you take ORENCIA with other biologic medicines.

Possible Side Effects of ORENCIA® (abatacept)

ORENCIA can cause serious side effects including:

  • Serious infections. ORENCIA can make you more likely to get infections or make the infection that you have get worse. Some patients have died from these infections. Call your healthcare provider immediately if you feel sick or get any of the following signs of infection: fever; feel very tired; cough; feel flu-like; or warm, red or painful skin.
  • Allergic reactions. Allergic reactions can happen to people who use ORENCIA. Call your healthcare provider or get emergency medical help right away if you have any symptoms of an allergic reaction, which may include hives; swollen face, eyelids, lips, tongue; or trouble breathing.
  • Hepatitis B infection. If you are a carrier of the hepatitis B virus (a virus that affects the liver), the virus can become active while you use ORENCIA. Your healthcare provider may do a blood test before you start or while using ORENCIA.
  • Vaccinations. You should not receive ORENCIA with certain types of vaccines. ORENCIA may cause some vaccinations to be less effective.
  • Respiratory problems in patients with COPD. You may get certain respiratory problems more often if you receive ORENCIA and have COPD, including: worsened COPD, pneumonia, cough, or trouble breathing.
  • Cancer (malignancies). Certain kinds of cancer have been reported in patients receiving ORENCIA. It is not known if ORENCIA increases your chance of getting certain kinds of cancer.

Common side effects with ORENCIA are headache, upper respiratory tract infection, sore throat, and nausea.

Note concerning ORENCIA SC: ORENCIA for SC injection has not been studied in children under 18 years of age, therefore it is not known if ORENCIA for SC injection is safe and effective in children under 18 years of age.

Please read the Patient Information in the Full Prescribing Information,

Brought to you by Bristol-Myers Squibb Company.

© 2014 Bristol-Myers Squibb Company.

ORENCIA is a registered trademark of Bristol-Myers Squibb Company.

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