What is Immunoglobulin replacement therapy (IRT)

Immunoglobulins (also known as antibodies) are produced by the immune system to fight a specific infection. The immune system makes different types of antibodies to fight different types of germs.

Antibodies are an important part of the body’s defence against both bacteria and viruses. In most PID’s the body fails to produce enough antibodies or it produces none at all.

Immunoglobulin used in IRT comes from blood donated by healthy blood donors. The protection provided by the IRT could be described as throwing a blanket over the immune system of the person with PID, it provides protection from infections. It doesn’t however provide long lasting protection which is why treatment must be given on a regular basis.

There are two main forms of IRT, this is based on how they are administered.

Intravenous Immunoglobulin (IVIg)

  • Given intravenously through a vein into the blood.
  • Most often given in a hospital day unit by a Registered Nurse or Doctor.
  • Most people have IVIg every 3 to 4 weeks. The dose is calculated on the person’s weight and immunoglobulin levels, along with how well they are when on IRT.

Subcutaneous Immunoglobulin (SCIg)

  • Slowly infusing concentrated immunoglobulin under the skin.
  • Can be done at home by the person with the PID or by their carer after being trained in the process by a nurse or doctor.
  • Usually given weekly depending on the dose, immunoglobulin levels and how well the person is.

As with all issues that people with PID may come across, AusPIPS is happy to be contacted if anyone who qualifies for SCIg is unable to access it, to see if we can help.

Subcutaneous Immunoglobulin (SCIg)
AusPIPS is committed to seeing everyone with PID who qualifies for Ig infusions and is capable of treating themselves or the person that is caring for them having a choice of doing IVIg or SCIg. With making the choice available for people with PID of either IVIg (Intravenous Immunoglobulin) or SCIg, given that published Australian research has indicated that 77% of people with PID would choose home based treatment, this will see numerous benefits to state health budgets with large financial savings, along with freeing up hospital resources.

The pros of SCIg include IgG antibody trough levels will staying higher, resulting in fewer breakthrough infections and the need for extra admissions into hospital for IV antibiotics, ending in a better quality of life for patients.

AusPIPS is committed to seeing government to cover the full costs of consumables, as adults who have PID often are unable to work and are dependent on welfare, meaning that subcutaneous IgG without the cost of consumables being funded, will not be an affordable option. Parents will also be able to more easily afford to cover treatment costs for their children. AusPIPS is more than happy to present budget figures prepared for SCIg.