In the New York Times on 1/29/23 was an article about how a drug company (Abbvie) selling Humira® (adalimumab) managed to use “legal” patent manipulations and huge cost increases to make 114 billion dollars selling Humira®. Humira® is indicated for use in Crohn’s disease, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, ulcerative colitis, hidranitis suppuritiva, juvenile idiopathic arthritis and uveitis, and plaque psoriasis. These are difficult conditions and patients want any kind of treatment there is. Humira® is an expensive treatment for patients and very profitable for the company. There are many tragedies here such as the cost of the medication to insurance companies, costs which are ultimately borne by all of us, and to the patients who could not afford this medication and instead suffered with these disorders. The cost of Humira® would be easier to tolerate if it cured the problems. But Humira® only suppresses the inflammation in these conditions. Humira® does not cure any of these problems.
However, what I find really tragic about this is that an expensive treatment such as Humira® is not necessary for these disorders. All the conditions which Humira® is used for can be treated using a far cheaper and far more effective treatment, anti-yeast therapy. Anti-yeast therapy costs a pittance compared with Humira®. And anti-yeast therapy treats the underlying problem, instead of only suppressing it.
What is Humira®? Humira® blocks a major regulator of inflammation in the body, tumor necrosis factor (TNF). Tumor necrosis factor received its name because it sometimes can cause tumors to regress. It was found because sometimes when a cancer patient developed a bacterial infection, the tumor would become smaller. This was because TNF was released to regulate the inflammation of the infection but it then might make the tumor smaller.
TNF is released during an infection and it regulates and promotes inflammation which is necessary to fight the foreign invader. But sometimes there is too much TNF released, such as in autoimmune disease and there is too much inflammation, which leads to the tissue destruction of disorders such as rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn’s disease. The drug Humira® contains antibodies which neutralize TNF, so that it is no longer around to promote inflammation. This reduction in TNF leads to decreased symptoms of autoimmune disease such as rheumatoid arthritis.
The side effects of Humira® are many. Drugs such as Humira® were thought at one time to be very specific and targeted so that there would not be many side effects. But this has not turned out to be the case. There are many side effects, one of which is susceptibility to invasive fungal and other infections. The reason is that TNF is necessary as a signal to produce inflammation which fights foreign invaders such as fungus. Every patient taking Humira® has to live with such susceptibility.
Now one could ask if tumor necrosis factor both fights invasive fungal infections and can cause autoimmune disease, that maybe, just maybe, fungal infections are related to autoimmune disease. If someone has thought this, the publications are hard to find. Instead the medical community does not seem to understand the cause of these disorders.
But I have found that disorders such as Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis and psoriasis are easy to treat by treating a yeast/fungus which is found in the human intestinal tract. The yeast/fungus Candida albicans is found in the human gut and if this yeast is treated, autoimmune problems diminish and go away. Candida albicans is treated with the non-absorbed medication nystatin and with a special anti-yeast diet. But why should this help and what is Candida doing to cause these problems?
In a very short explanation, Candida albicans sticks very tightly to the gut wall, especially after antibiotics have been given. Candida both provokes inflammation but resists and evades the immune system. And it has evolved to look like our own cells by putting out human connective tissue receptors. This is a difficult combination. The body is attacking something which looks like our own cells. Candida provokes inflammation, at least partially through TNF and the body cannot get rid of the Candida quickly. The result is too much inflammation for too long, directed at the yeast but then also directed at cells which look like the yeast which are often connective tissue cells, such as joints and tendons and the intestinal structure. The result is autoimmune disease. Our book An Extraordinary Power to Heal explains these concepts in much more depth.
Unfortunately the medical community has never taken the possibility that intestinal Candida albicans could cause disorders such as Crohn’s and psoriasis seriously. This is too bad. Anti-yeast therapy is far cheaper and more effective and does not have the serious side effects of Humira®.