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infliximab (cont.)

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before using infliximab (Remicade)?

You should not use this medication if you are allergic to infliximab, or if you are also being treated with anakinra (Kineret) or abatacept (Orencia).

Some people using infliximab have developed a rare fast-growing type of lymphoma (cancer). This condition affects the liver, spleen, and bone marrow, and it can be fatal. This has occurred mainly in teenagers and young adults using infliximab or similar medicines to treat Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis.

However, people with autoimmune disorders (including rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, ankylosing spondylitis, and psoriasis) may have a higher risk of lymphoma. Talk to your doctor about your individual risk.

Before using infliximab, tell your doctor if you have ever had tuberculosis, if anyone in your household has tuberculosis, or if you have recently traveled to an area where tuberculosis is common.

To make sure you can safely take infliximab, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:

  • severe heart failure, or other heart problems;
  • an active or recent infection, open sores or skin wounds;
  • diabetes;
  • liver disease (especially hepatitis B);
  • epilepsy or other seizure disorder;
  • chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD);
  • a history of cancer;
  • a weak immune system;
  • numbness or tingling anywhere in your body;
  • a disease that affects the nerves or muscles, such as multiple sclerosis or Guillain-Barre syndrome;
  • if you have recently been vaccinated with BCG (Bacille Calmette-Guérin); or
  • if you are scheduled to receive any vaccines.

FDA pregnancy category B. It is not known whether infliximab will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medication.

It is not known whether infliximab passes into breast milk. You should not breast-feed while you are receiving infliximab.

Infliximab is not for use in children younger than 6 years old.

How should I use infliximab (Remicade)?

Use exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not use in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. Follow the directions on your prescription label.

Before you start treatment with infliximab, your doctor may perform tests to make sure you do not have tuberculosis or other infections. Some infections are more likely to occur in certain areas of the world. Tell your doctor where you live and where you have recently traveled or plan to travel to during treatment.

Infliximab is injected into a vein through an IV. You will receive this injection in a clinic or hospital setting. This medicine is usually given at intervals of 2 to 8 weeks.

Infliximab must be injected slowly, over about 2 hours. Your doctor may wish to observe you after the injection to make sure the medicine has not caused any serious side effects.

If you need surgery, tell the surgeon ahead of time that you are using infliximab.

Infliximab can lower blood cells that help your body fight infections. Your blood may need to be tested often. Avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Avoid activities that may increase your risk of bleeding injury. Serious and sometimes fatal infections may occur during treatment with infliximab. Contact your doctor right away if you have signs of infection such as: fever, chills, flu symptoms, or pain, warmth, or redness of your skin.

If you have hepatitis B you may develop liver symptoms during treatment with infliximab or after you stop using the medication, even months after stopping. Your doctor may want to check your liver function for several months after you stop using infliximab. Visit your doctor regularly.

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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