What To Expect When Changing Immunoglobulin (IG) Brands
Immunoglobulin (IG) has a proven track record for the treatment of patients suffering from antibody deficiency syndrome. Hence, it is a solid choice for patients that require immunomodulatory therapy. Although different IG brands have equal efficacy, it’s generally not a good idea to switch brands. There are certain circumstances, however, when switching immunoglobulin brands is necessary.
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What Is Immunoglobulin?
Immunoglobulin therapy is used to boost the body’s immune system. It minimizes the risk of infection in patients whose immune systems cannot produce enough antibodies.
There are five classes of immunoglobulin: immunoglobulin A, immunoglobulin D, immunoglobulin E, immunoglobulin G, and immunoglobulin M. Each one has a unique function and structure. For example, immunoglobulin G guards the body against bacterial infections, viral infections, and many others.
Just like there are different classes of IG, there are also many IG brands available today, such as Hizentra, Octagram, Privigen, Gammaked, and many others. These medications may be administered intravenously (IVIG), like Privigen and Gammagard, or subcutaneously (SCIG), like Hizentra and Gamunex-C.
Reasons You May Be Asked To Switch IG brands
- The manufacturer may no longer be able to provide the medication due to supply issues.
- The manufacturer may have replaced the product with an alternate one.
- Your current IG brand causes serious adverse reactions.
If you encounter one of the situations mentioned above, your physician may ask you to change IG brands.
What To Expect When Changing IG Brands
1. Changes in Side Effects Experienced
Patients may note a change in the side effects they experience. Side effects may get better or worse depending on the switch. For example, studies reveal that in cases where administration of intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG) treatment for immunodeficiency disorders spurred severe adverse effects, patients who switched to subcutaneous immunoglobulin treatment (SCIG) experienced a decrease in side effects.
2. Changes in the Frequency of Administration
If you switch from IVIG to SCIG, you will be required to administer the medication more frequently. Conversely, if you switch from SCIG to IVIG, you will need to administer the medication less often. However, because IVIG increases IgG concentration levels faster, you may experience more unwanted side effects.
3. Significant Lifestyle Adjustments
Patients who change from one IG product to another may have to visit the hospital more often and adjust their daily routines or diet. For example, patients switching from SCIG products (which can be self-administered in the comfort of their homes) to IVIG products may have to routinely report and spend more time at hospitals or infusion centers, where a nursing team can monitor for any adverse reactions.
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Immunoglobulin is an effective prescription medication against immunodeficiency diseases, among others. However, it is often bothersome to switch IG brands due to potential side effects and lifestyle adjustments. You should discuss with your doctor and be aware of how your life will be affected before making any changes to your medication.
Frequently Asked Questions
Are all IG products effective?
Yes, they are. These products have been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). However, the level of efficacy for each brand may vary across individuals and how critical their conditions may be. Therefore, it is important that patients seek advice from medical personnel before making any changes.
This information is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment. Talk to your doctor or healthcare provider about your medical condition prior to starting any new treatment. AmeriPharma Specialty Care assumes no liability whatsoever for the information provided or for any diagnosis or treatment made as a result, nor is it responsible for the reliability of the content.
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Sameh Habib, RPh was born and raised in Alexandria, Egypt. He received his degree from Alexandria University, and completed his pharmacy residency in the United States. He has been a practicing pharmacist for 10 years. The most rewarding part of his job is helping others, including both patients and co-workers. In his free time, he enjoys spending time at the beach and hiking.