As rheumatology evolves, it can be challenging to stay current with the latest research and treatments. The Handoff is a weekly roundup of the most important news and updates in rheumatic diseases. Keep your finger on the pulse of rheumatology with The Handoff.

–The first US Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved infliximab biosimilar, infliximab-dyyb (Inflectra™, Pfizer), will begin shipping to US wholesalers in late November, Pfizer announced. Inflectra is approved for indications for which its primary reference product was approved, including rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and plaque psoriasis.


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–Concerns surrounding the rare but serious side effects of bisphosphonates mean that more women are delaying osteoporosis treatment—and hip fracture rates are on the rise, writes Marlene Cimons in The Washington Post.

–Investigators at the University of Gothenberg in Sweden have identified a possible link between childhood infections—including appendicitis and respiratory tract infections—and later development of ankylosing spondylitis, published in Arthritis Research & Therapy.

–In a recently released health care analytics brief, the Institute for Patient Access (IfPA) has found that patients with RA who switch medications for financial—rather than medical—reasons experience poorer outcomes.  Patients who switched medications once were more likely to have their treatment interrupted by a second switch over the course of the 2-year study, with higher rates of second switches for patients with RA.

–Triathele, ironman, and aerial gymnist Reesa Partida was devastated by her RA diagnosis at the age of 25. Eight months later, she placed tenth in her age group at the Nautica Malibu Triathlon. Read more of her story in Self.

Research presented at the 2016 United European Gastroenterology (UEG) Week suggests that amylase-trypsin inhibitors (ATIs)—a group of protein identified in wheat—are linked to inflammatory markers that trigger chronic autoimmune conditions including RA, multiple sclerosis, and non-celiac gluten sensitivity. 

–Twenty-one clinical research grants for orphan drugs have been awarded by the FDA. Columbia University Health Sciences was among the lucky recipients, receiving $1.6 million for 4 years to conduct a phase 2b study of denosumab (Prolia®, Amgen), which prevents bone loss in premenopausal women with idiopathic osteoporosis.

–The American Society of Regional Anesthesia and Pain Medicine (ASRA) has released a formal position statement requesting that the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reschedule marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II under the Controlled Substances Act. The official ASRA statement on marijuana summarizes evidence from clinical studies and systematic reviews, indicating the effectiveness of marijuana in relieving pain associated with conditions such as cancer, rheumatic diseases, and neuropathies.

–The American College of Rheumatology (ACR) has its sights set on Washington, D.C., with preparations for the 2016 ACR/ARHP Annual Meeting well underway. More than 16,000 rheumatology professionals are expected to attend. View the program preview and mark your calendars for November 11, 2016.

Rheumatology Advisor will bring you live, on-site coverage.

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