Family Planning & Birth Control Information for Vasculitis Patients

When it comes to pregnancy and women with vasculitis, there is limited and unreliable information out there, which is a great concern for patients and their physicians. To address this need, the Vasculitis Pregnancy Registry (V-PREG) has created a two-page handout, “Family Planning & Birth Control Information for Vasculitis Patients.” It was developed by Megan […]

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Helpful Tips for Finding a Vasculitis Specialist

If you’re looking for a vasculitis specialist, should you ask your primary care doctor, family members/relatives or friends for a referral? What about tapping into your social network for recommendations? Vasculitis is a disease that requires long-term management so it’s super important that you find a doctor and medical team that you trust and feel […]

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Trying to Understand Giant Cell Arteritis Relapse

  Giant cell arteritis (GCA) is a chronic condition with frequent relapses. A better understanding of why relapses occur might help identify patients who would benefit from longer treatment duration. Tanaz A. Kermani, MD, MS, Director of the Vasculitis Program at UCLA and others from the Vasculitis Clinical Research Consortium (VCRC) studied the frequency, timing, […]

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What Role for Acupuncture in Chronic Disease?

February 2010 Scientists aren’t ready to claim that acupuncture works for any specific disease -yet.  But studies supported by the NIH National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) have yielded promising evidence that this ancient practice modifies perception of pain and its processing by the brain and that it may be helpful for pain […]

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Questions to Ask about Your Medications and Pharmacy
By Mitch Horowitz, June 2022 


  1. Medications – Questions you can ask your doctor
    1. Why are you prescribing this medication for me?
    2. What should I expect this medication to do for me?
      1. Control/resolve vasculitis symptoms?
        1. Treat active disease
        2. Maintain remission
        3. Treat a flare
      2. Control/resolve side effects?
        1. Sleep issues
        2. GI track issues
        3. High/low blood pressure
        4. Peripheral neuropathy
        5. Others
  • How can I tell if the side effect I am feeling is due to the medication or to the vasculitis?
  1. When should I take this medication?
    1. Morning/afternoon/evening
    2. With food? On an empty stomach?
  • With other meds? By itself?
  1. Are there any food/drink interactions I should consider (i.e. citrus and statins)?
  1. How is this medication given?
    1. Pill – can you swallow big pills? Can it be split?
    2. Injection – needle phobia? Will someone teach me how to inject myself?
  • Infusion – outpatient infusion centers or hospital?
  1. What should I do if I have side effects?


  1. How long will it take for the medication to start working?


  1. How long do we wait to determine if the medication is not working? What then?
  2. Keep a list of your medications, doses and schedules so you can track how long you have been on a medication.
  3. Ask about the timing of medications and vaccines
    1. Flu
    2. Pneumonia
  • Shingles
  1. COVID-19
  2. Others
  1. Medications may be expensive
    1. Ask how much the medication costs, if insurance covers the medication, if it requires pre-approval, is there a generic available?
    2. If you are in the hospital all medications will be dispensed by the hospital pharmacy.
  • Pharmaceutical companies may have patient-assistance programs although it can take time to process an application and eligibility differs based on each company.


  1. Quick Tips for Using Pharmacies
    1. Use ONE pharmacy if All pharmacies have drug interaction software to ensure patients aren’t prescribed two medications that might interact with each other.
    2. Ask questions when you pick up your medications. Pharmacists are happy to answer questions from patients.

Proper Disposal of Injectable Chemotherapy
By Mitch Horowitz, August 2022 


There are many medications used to treat Vasculitis and several ways for Vasculitis patients to take them. Sometimes they are somewhat toxic to us, and that means they are toxic to the environment as well.

This prompted the EPA to set up guidelines for their disposal to keep them for contaminating the environment.


These rules are strictly enforced in hospitals and pharmacies. When I worked in a hospital, we were subject to inspection by the EPA, announced or unannounced, to see if we were following the rules.


With regard to all drugs, in a hospital, there were five types of pharmaceutical waste, ranging from things you could throw in the regular trash to things considered so hazardous that they needed their own trash containers marked with stickers to say how dangerous they were. They had to be incinerated.


One drug in particular that is used both orally and as an injection by patients with autoimmune conditions is Methotrexate. If it is used as an injection, be sure your doctor or nurse instructs you on how to draw it out of the vial without any spraying or dripping out of the drug from the vial in the process. You will need to practice doing this until you are comfortable. It is considered hazardous and needs proper disposal. This should be in a medical grade sharps container.  It should have a yellow sticker on it saying Hazardous Waste. The FDA allows you to use certain substitutes at home, such as a bottle that had fabric softener or laundry detergent in it. These containers are made from strong plastic that a needle won’t penetrate.

Don’t touch the needle, don’t try to recap it or remove it from the syringe. It may have a built-in shield for the needle, to cover the tip after the injection, but that’s optional. Just throw the needle and syringe combination into the container you have chosen to use. This is especially important if you gave the injection to someone else.


You can also place the empty vials in the same container as the syringes. Even though they might be empty, they are considered hazardous waste and should be disposed of properly.


When your container is at the full mark, which is usually about three quarters of the container, it is time to dispose of it. Sometimes you can return it to the Pharmacy, or the Doctor’s office. Sometimes the local government has hazardous waste disposal sites that will take it.  You can go directly to the processing plant, or periodically there are days where they pick a location in the community and you can dispose of tablets, vials, needles and syringes. Call ahead and ask them to be sure.


I know that people sometimes throw the container out with the household trash, but that is not really appropriate.


Methotrexate tablets should be disposed of in a similar fashion. Never thrown down the sink or the toilet.


It’s up to us to do what is good for the environment while we take also care of ourselves.