Dermatomyositis (DM) is a rare autoimmune condition characterized by muscle weakness and a dark red rash that may appear on the eyelids, cheeks, nose, back, or near joints. This disease most commonly occurs in adults in their 40s to 60s or in children aged 5 to 15. While there is currently no cure available for DM, treatments such as infusion therapy can help.
How Infusion Therapy for DM works
Infusion therapy is a method of delivering medication to your body through intravenous (IV) administration. Infusion medication works more quickly than drugs taken orally since it enters the bloodstream more directly.
Infusion Medications for DM
Currently there are two primary infusion therapy options for DM: Intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIg) treatments and Rituximab (Rituxan) infusion. IVIg treatments are derived from human plasma containing antibodies that work to suppress the DM antibodies that harm the muscles and skin. Rituximab treatment is a human-made antibody that is more commonly used as a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Much like IVIg, rituximab counteracts the DM antibodies that affect the muscles and skin. Talk to your healthcare provider to see which treatment is best for you.
What to Expect
While duration will differ based on the treatment requirements for each individual, IVIg infusions generally take about three to six hours to complete. The first IVIg treatment is given over the course of 1-3 days, followed by smaller doses, given monthly thereafter, tapering down based on the drug’s effectiveness.
Infusions of rituximab take around six hours for the first dose, and 4 hours for each infusion thereafter. Followup infusions are given when the effectiveness of the previous dose begins to wear off, which can be anywhere from six months to several years apart.
At Infusion Associates, we are committed to making sure your treatment experience is as comfortable as possible. All of our rooms are stocked with several amenities, including recliners, big-screen TVs, free Wi-Fi, beverages, blankets, pillows, and more.
Side effects of IVIg treatment for DM are rare but generally involve flu-like symptoms, such as headache, backache, chills, fever, and joint pain.
Side effects of rituximab can include:
- Infusion-related reactions
- Body aches
- Increased susceptibility to infection
In certain, rare cases rituxan treatment can cause serious and life-threatening side effects, including:
- Heart problems
- Kidney problems
- Severe gastrointestinal complications
- Serious infections
- Tumor Lysis Syndrome (TLS)
If you experience any of these side effects, tell your doctor, or if you are experiencing a severe reaction or side effect, seek emergency medical help immediately. You are also encouraged to report such side effects to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) by visiting www.fda.gov/medwatch, or by calling 1-800-FDA-1088.
If Your Doctor Has Recommended Infusion Therapy, Let Infusion Associates Help You
At Infusion Associates, we provide medically-prescribed infusion therapy for patients with chronic conditions in a welcoming and friendly environment. Our team of healthcare professionals is fully committed to making the experience as comfortable as possible for you or your patients. We always inform patients of any potential side effects and answer all their questions before starting treatment. In addition, we have a Registered Pharmacist or Medical Provider on-site to make the process as seamless as possible.