Eagles singer Glenn Frey’s death is being the blamed partly on the rheumatoid arthritis drugs he took to the combat rheumatoid arthritis: While used to treating thousands of American patients, the medicines can lead them vulnerable to the serious infections, experts say. Many of the medicines that used for the autoimmune disease treatment, which affects about 1.3 million Americans, come with a slew of the probable side effects, from the heart failure to the tuberculosis.
That’s because some of the most beneficial treatments, known as disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs), work to the suppress arthritis sufferers’ overactive immune systems, which can make them endangered to the infection.Frey died Monday at age 67 from pneumonia and colitis, as well as the life long effects of the arthritis on his body, his manager, Irving Azoff, told the website The Wrap.Azoff added that the pneumonia he contracted was a side effect “from all the meds.”“The point [Frey’s manager] made about the medications in relation to pneumonia, that is very possible,”Marcy O’Koon, senior director for consumer health at the Arthritis Foundation, told The Post on Wednesday.“With DMARDs, you are vulnerable to infection, in fact, speaking to RA, you’re more vulnerable to infection anyway.“That’s something people have to watch out for and contact their doctor at the first sign of fever.”Those who suffer from the chronic inflammatory disorder have to weigh the many life-changing benefits of strong rheumatoid arthritis drugs that treat the disease against their nasty side effects, experts say.The leading anti-inflammatory drug, Humira, for example, can lead to an increased risk of certain types of cancers, serious infections and nervous system problems, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
Similar drugs, all of which are in a newer class called biologic agents, such Remicade and Enbrel, come with the same possible side effects.“They may be very rare, but there are still risks,” O’Koon said.However, she touted the new “biologics” as being a “big advancement” for those living with the disease — not just for slowing its progression, but also for reducing patients’ chances of developing cardiovascular disease.One New York City physician compared the drug risks to jumping in a taxicab, saying that “there’s always a risk we could crash.”“Untreated RA can be a very serious medical condition,” the doctor said. “Ideally, we’d like to get it under control.”