Blog | Sunday, October 26, 2008

Drugs, drugs, and...tai chi?


At most conferences, a press badge causes other attendees to avoid you if anything. But here at the American College of Rheumatology meeting, drug reps are drawn to my press ribbon like flies to honey. And they were in full swarm at a press conference this afternoon.

Early data on several experimental rheumatologic therapies was presented, including an injection for treatment-resistant gout and a new painkiller for knee osteoarthritis, as well as two potential competitors to Fosamax (in case Sally Field's commercials haven't already made it clear, there seems to be some money to made here). One of the drugs is a twice-yearly biologic and the other reduces glucocorticoid-induced fracture risk.

None of the drugs have been FDA-approved yet, though, so it should be a while before the drug reps are chasing you down the hall to discuss them.

The press conference did offer one non-drug therapy for knee osteoarthrtis--the ancient Chinese art of tai chi. Patients who did tai chi for 12 weeks had better function, balance and quality of life scores than those who did conventional stretching and wellness education. The researcher did warn that the tai chi exercises should be modified for OA patients because as typically done, tai chi can actually cause a lot of knee injuries. There's always a catch.