Etanercept for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Etanercept is given as a shot under the skin (subcutaneous injection).
How It Works
Etanercept reduces the effects of tumor necrosis factor (TNF). TNF is a protein that attaches to the joint surface and causes inflammation and joint damage. Etanercept blocks the action of TNF and reduces symptoms and slows the progression of rheumatoid arthritis.
Etanercept is a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD), which means it slows the progression of the disease. DMARDs are also called immunosuppressive drugs or slow-acting antirheumatic drugs (SAARDs).
Why It Is Used
How Well It Works
Etanercept works quickly with minimal side effects. It appears to affect disease activity within weeks. When used alone or in combination with methotrexate, it decreases pain and swelling better than methotrexate alone.1 Combining etanercept with methotrexate has produced good results, greatly slowing damage to joints while increasing functional ability.2
The most common side effect of TNF antagonists such as etanercept is an allergic reaction to the injection (shot). If you have a reaction to the shot, it will happen right away, either during the shot or within 1 to 2 hours after the shot. Your doctor may give you medicines to prevent or stop the reaction.
Symptoms of a reaction to the shot include:
Warnings about serious side effects of TNF antagonists have been issued. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the drug's manufacturers have warned about:
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)
What To Think About
Etanercept is expensive; it may cost significantly more than other DMARDs.1
Etanercept should not be used by pregnant women or women of childbearing age who are not using reliable birth control. If you are going to take etanercept, you should be on some form of reliable birth control. If you plan to become pregnant, check with your health professional before stopping birth control and trying to become pregnant.
Etanercept is a relatively new medicine. Its long-term safety and effectiveness are not fully known.4
Etanercept can be self-administered once you receive training and instructions from your health professional.
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