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Intravenous Immune Globulin (ivig) Treats Symptoms Of Rare Disease
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Immune globulin (IG) is derived from human plasma and is used to treat a number of autoimmune and neurological disorders. There is ample science behind the effectiveness of immune globulin since it is well established that immune globulin contains antibodies that help the body resist bacteria, viruses, parasites and fungi. When immune globulin is administered to patients intravenously, it is referred to as IVIG.
Helping patients with chronic illness
Patients who are diagnosed with rare diseases often endure months or even years of misdiagnosis because physicians are frequently unfamiliar these conditions and the symptoms often mimic other ailments. IVIG has been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat several specific and rare disease states. Diseases treated by IVIG include primary immunodeficiencies; immune-mediated thrombocytopenia; Kawasaki disease; Hematopoietic stem cell transplantation; Chronic B-cell lymphocytic leukemia; and pediatric HIV type 1 infection.
IVIG is administered to patients intravenously, meaning a needle is inserted into the patient’s vein. Dosage and frequency of infusions are determined by the patient’s disease state and other health factors. IVIG helps immune-compromised patients by replacing the antibodies the patient needs.
Understanding the IVIG treatment plan
IVIG is far from a one-time fix. Patients undergoing IVIG treatments must repeat infusions at regular intervals - usually twice a month, as determined by their healthcare provider. Although IVIG helps patients with chronic disease it does not cause the disease to go into remission. The antibodies in IVIG do, however, improve the symptoms of the disease temporarily. Patients who undergo IVIG therapy can have their infusions administered in various settings, depending on what their insurance allows for. Settings where IVIG might be administered include a hospital, an infusion center or sometimes at home. IVIG infusions can be time consuming, taking anywhere from two to four hours to complete, so many patients prefer a home setting when possible.
Like any medical procedure, IVIG can have unwanted side effects, including migraines, fatigue and rashes. Many patients report that slower infusions result in milder side effects, but do not eliminate them completely. Side effects can sometimes be minimized by drinking lots of water prior to an IVIG treatment, getting adequate rest, and using an antihistamine prior to treatment.
How is IVIG distributed?
Immune globulin is carried by biopharmaceutical distributors whose job it is to deliver this life-giving plasma product to the physicians, infusion centers and hospitals who administer IVIG. Safe tracking and handling are especially important since immune globulin is fragile and sensitive to temperature changes. Tracking products in shipment is also a concern to protect immune globulin orders from counterfeiting which could put patient’s lives at risk.
Helping patients attain a better quality of life
IVIG can significantly improve the quality of life for patients who live with the effects of chronic illness. Many patients report renewed energy, less pain and an enhanced ability to perform everyday tasks and activities. While not a cure, IVIG can be a life-enhancing treatment for patients living with rare autoimmune diseases.
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