Hold the (Medical) Side Effects

By: Nic Hayes

Here’s a clip from a recent TV commercial for a common autoimmune disease treatment, “Serious side effects include allergic reactions, post injection reactions, liver problems, and depression.” Any time you see a commercial on TV for any prescription or medication, between the benefits the medication may bring and how you can get it, you are likely to hear a very similar warning statement of side effects in all of them.


While we are now accustomed to hearing these side effect warnings while watching TV, for Anthony Hartley, he became all too familiar with these side effects early in his career when he was working at a lab in Switzerland and involved in dozens of clinical trials. In this role, he was able to see a variety of different types of therapies being tested across different therapeutic areas. Being involved in hundreds of trials led to him noticing certain patterns to where he could read a new protocol and already anticipate what the side effects would be from that medication. After seeing the same adverse side effects over and over again, Anthony decided there has to be a better way.


One experience, however, had a profound impact on him. It wasn’t a pill. It wasn’t a medication. Instead, it was a treatment based more on biology than chemistry, the field of regenerative medicine which impacts the body and healing in a totally different way than a pill.


Anthony walked away from that experience wanting to make sure patients knew were informed about different treatment options such as regenerative medicine that comes without the side effects associated with the pills and medications he had become all too familiar with. This eventually culminated in the creation of Patient Advisor, a solution that helps employees get better health outcomes by choosing regenerative medicine instead of elective outpatient surgery and specialized medications.


Regenerative Medicine

While a pill can have varying different effects on a person due to pharmacogenomics and other factors, the studies, research and experiments in the area of regenerative medicine have found that there typically aren’t adverse side effects. Much of the process happens naturally with the body’s own stem cells from birth and as we age. There is also more research showing that there are other kinds of therapies where these stem cells can come from a healthy donor as well.


The two areas where there is the most research using regenerative medicine is in orthopedic and autoimmune conditions.


For orthopedic conditions, a clinician can take the patient’s own cells, like with platelet-rich plasma (PRP), do a bit of preparation, and then those cells can be given back to the patient where healing can happen more directly.


For autoimmune conditions, the same techniques can be used. However, some medical teams and clinics will also use these cells in combination with an allogeneic product from a healthy donor resulting in a different mix than therapy for an orthopedic condition. What is more these treatments are producing improved health outcomes with significantly lessened potential for serious side effects when compared to medications.


Know Better, Do Better

There are around 5,000 rheumatologists in the U.S., but there are about 25 million people living with autoimmune disease putting a burden on patients, doctors, and the system as a whole. Because of the strain on the system, a number of these patients are prescribed medications such as Enbrel and Stelara, each of which may bring adverse side effects which could harm the patient. In addition to those side effects, many of these medications come with a hefty annual cost per individual patient - $80,000 to $100,000 – with the employee and employer bearing the brunt of the responsibility.


However, with regenerative therapies, they are offered for significantly less and can be completed in as few as two office visits, compared to treatments that have to be done on a monthly basis. On top of lesser costs, the biggest impact that these treatments have is the impact on the patient’s life. Anthony added, “The most common phrase we hear from patients after receiving regenerative medicine is, ‘I got my life back,’” highlighting the enormous benefit these treatments provide.


While advocating for regenerative treatments, at its core, Patient Advisor is truly a facilitator, bringing education and consultancy to the patient and the employer by helping them better understand the options and treatments available to them. On their website is a plethora of information and studies that are publicly available as well as educational videos, and testimonials from patients who have experienced regenerative medicine.


When it comes to your health, you always have more than one option. By knowing all of your options not only can you do what’s best for your health, but you can also do what’s best for the financial health of your plan as well.


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