To print: Use your web browser's print feature. Close this window after printing.

Biologics for Rheumatoid Arthritis


Table of Contents


Biologics for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Examples

Generic NameBrand Name
abatacept Orencia
adalimumab Humira
anakinra Kineret
certolizumab Cimzia
etanerceptEnbrel
golimumabSimponi
infliximabRemicade
rituximabRituxan
tocilizumabActemra

How It Works

Biologics block harmful responses from the body's immune system that lead to the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

Why It Is Used

Biologics are used to treat moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis symptoms and to prevent joint damage, particularly in people who have had side effects or poor results from other medicines such as methotrexate.

Biologics are usually used after nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, and methotrexate have been tried. A biologic is often used at the same time as other medicines.

How Well It Works

Biologics can slow joint damage, limit symptoms, and improve function in people who have rheumatoid arthritis.1, 2

Side Effects

All medicines have side effects. But many people don't feel the side effects, or they are able to deal with them. Ask your pharmacist about the side effects of each medicine you take. Side effects are also listed in the information that comes with your medicine.

Here are some important things to think about:

Call 911 or other emergency services right away if you have:

Call your doctor right away if you have:

Common side effects of this medicine include:

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Warnings have been issued about the serious side effects of biologics. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the drug's manufacturers have warned about:

Taking medicine

Medicine is one of the many tools your doctor has to treat a health problem. Taking medicine as your doctor suggests will improve your health and may prevent future problems. If you don't take your medicines properly, you may be putting your health (and perhaps your life) at risk.

There are many reasons why people have trouble taking their medicine. But in most cases, there is something you can do. For suggestions on how to work around common problems, see the topic Taking Medicines as Prescribed.

Advice for women

If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant, do not use any medicines unless your doctor tells you to. Some medicines can harm your baby. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, herbs, and supplements. And make sure that all your doctors know that you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or planning to get pregnant.

Checkups

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF) to help you understand this medication.

References

Citations

  1. Drugs for rheumatoid arthritis (2009). Treatment Guidelines From The Medical Letter, 7(81): 37–46.

  2. Shah A, St. Clair EW (2012). Rheumatoid arthritis. In DL Longo et al., eds., Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 18th ed., vol. 2, pp. 2738–2752. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Credits for Biologics for Rheumatoid Arthritis

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Nancy Ann Shadick, MD, MPH - Internal Medicine, Rheumatology
Last Revised June 5, 2012

Note: The "printer friendly" document will not contain all the information available in the online document. Some information (e.g. cross-references to other topics, definitions or medical illustrations) is only available in the online version.

© 1995-2014 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.