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Anakinra for Rheumatoid Arthritis


Generic NameBrand Name

Anakinra is administered by a shot under the skin (subcutaneous injection), usually once a day.

How It Works

Anakinra limits the action of an inflammatory substance known as interleukin (IL-1) that attaches to the joint surface and promotes inflammation. Anakinra 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

Anakinra has been approved for use in adults with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis if at least one other DMARD is not effective.

How Well It Works

Anakinra shows moderately good results in improving symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis when taken alone and when taken in combination with methotrexate.1

Side Effects

Side effects of anakinra may include:

  • Allergic reaction.
  • Nausea.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Headache.
  • Redness, bruising, pain, or swelling at the injection site.
  • Rare cases of lowered white blood cell counts (possibly due to simultaneous treatment with methotrexate).

Rare cases of serious infections have been reported during treatment with anakinra. Because anakinra decreases the action of your body's natural immune system, fever and chills are considered serious side effects that should be reported to your doctor immediately. If you develop any infection, you should contact your doctor, who may advise that you temporarily discontinue use of anakinra.

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

What To Think About

Talk to your doctor before taking anakinra if you are breast-feeding, pregnant, or thinking about becoming pregnant.

Anakinra can be self-administered once you have received training and instructions from your doctor.

Anakinra is a relatively new medicine, so its long-term side effects are not yet known.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)Click here to view a form.(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.



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


ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerAnne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerStanford M. Shoor, MD - Rheumatology
Last RevisedJune 11, 2010

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