Infliximab for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Infliximab is given by injection (infusion) into a vein (intravenously) every 4 to 8 weeks.
How It Works
Infliximab reduces the effects of tumor necrosis factor (TNF). TNF is a protein that attaches to the joint surface and causes inflammation and joint damage. Infliximab blocks the action of TNF and helps reduce the symptoms and slow the progression of rheumatoid arthritis. Infliximab is an immunosuppressive medication, which means that it reduces the activity in the body's immune system. Infliximab is a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD), which means it slows the progression of rheumatoid arthritis. DMARDs are also called immunosuppressive drugs or slow-acting antirheumatic drugs (SAARDs).
Why It Is Used
Infliximab has shown good results in slowing the progression of rheumatoid arthritis and, in doing so, providing relief from pain and inflammation.1
How Well It Works
Studies have shown that people with rheumatoid arthritis experience a rapid improvement in their symptoms when infliximab and methotrexate are used together. Infliximab reduces disease activity within weeks rather than several months, as with most other DMARDs.1
The most common side effect of TNF antagonists, such as infliximab, is an allergic reaction to the infusion (medicine given in a vein—intravenously, or IV). If you have a reaction to the infusion, it will happen right away, either during the infusion or within 1 to 2 hours after the infusion. Your doctor may give you medicines to prevent or stop the reaction.
Symptoms of an infusion site reaction 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
Infliximab 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 infliximab, you should be on some form of reliable birth control. If you plan to become pregnant, check with your doctor before stopping birth control and trying to become pregnant.
Infliximab is given by an injection (infusion) into a vein (intravenously). An IV is inserted into your arm and the medicine is given slowly over 2 to 4 hours. You will take diphenhydramine and acetaminophen before the infusion to prevent reactions to the infusion such as lightheadedness or general discomfort. The first time you get an infusion, it will take a long time because the medicine is given very slowly. Your later infusions will not take as long because the medicine will be infused more quickly. You will get infusions every 4 to 8 weeks. If your symptoms are not improving with infliximab, your doctor may increase your dose or you will get infusions more often.
Because infliximab is a relatively new medicine, long-term benefits and side effects are not known.
Infliximab is significantly more expensive than some other DMARDs.
eMedicineHealth Medical Reference from Healthwise
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