News in brief: GRA registry seeks data from vaccinated rheumatology patients; Cannabis use triples for arthritis relief; Rituximab reminder on hep B reactivation

Thursday, 22 Jul 2021


Rheumatology registry wants your data on COVID-19 cases in vaccinated patients

The rheumatology registry that gathers data on COVID-19 outcomes is now putting the focus on vaccinated patients.

The COVID-19 Global Rheumatology Alliance is calling for physician reports on breakthrough COVID-19 cases in vaccinated rheumatic disease patients.

Rheumatologists are encouraged to submit information on vaccine type and timing and immunosuppressive drug status, via

“If you have these patients, we would deeply appreciate if you could take a moment to enter their clinical information. We anticipate that it will take about 10 minutes per patient,” they write.

“Please help us generate real world data to inform this important issue.”

Cannabis use increasing in US patients with rheumatic diseases

Rheumatic disease patients are increasingly reaching for cannabis to treat pain, according to a US study.

Cannabis use increased from 6.3% in 2014 to 18.4% in 2019 in 11,006 FORWARD participants, with greatest use occurring in states where cannabis is legal, FORWARD Biobank Director, Kristin Wipfler and her team wrote in Arthritis Care & Research.

“Most users (74% in 2014; 62% in 2019) reported that cannabis was effective for relief of arthritis symptoms,” the authors said.

Cannabis users were more likely to be taking weak opioids, have a history of tobacco smoking and feel worse than non-cannabis users.

Patients may be turning to cannabis when other therapies provide inadequate pain relief, the authors suggested.

Rituximab reminder on hep B reactivation

The risk of hepatitis B reactivation must be considered in patients with haematological malignancy before prescribing B-cell-depleting therapies, according Australian clinicians who report a fatal case of liver failure in a patient treated with rituximab for B-cell lymphoma.

Doctors at Austin Health said the 93 year old man had tested positive for HBcAb and negative for HBsAg and HBsAb prior to chemotherapy, but had not received antiviral prophylaxis prior to receiving R-CHOP chemotherapy 10 months prior to the hepatitis B reactivation.

They said the case highlighted that hepatitis B reactivation could be delayed by many months after exposure to rituximab.

“Universal hepatitis B screening of patients receiving chemotherapy and prophylactic antiviral treatment with entecavir or tenofovir are endorsed by most gastroenterology and oncology society guidelines,” they noted in BMJ Case Reports.

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