The U.S. FDA has ordered stronger warnings on four medications widely used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, saying they can raise the risk of possibly fatal fungal infections.
Enbrel, Remicade, Humira and Cimzia work by suppressing the immune system to keep it from attacking the body. For patients with rheumatoid arthritis, the treatment provides relief from swollen and painful joints. But the drugs also lower the body's defenses against various kinds of infections.
The FDA became concerned after discovering that doctors seemed to be overlooking a particular kind of fungal infection called histoplasmosis. The infection is prevalent in much of the middle part of the country, and it can have grave consequences if it isn't caught early and spreads beyond the respiratory system to other organs of the body.
* USA Today September 4, 2008