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Understanding Crohn Disease Medications (cont.)

Biologic Drugs

Patient Comments
  • This class of drugs includes
  • How biologic drugs work: These agents inhibit key factors responsible for inflammatory responses in the immune system called TNF (tumor necrosis factor) blockers and are used for moderate-to-severe Crohn's disease.
  • Who should not use these medications: Individuals who have allergy to a specific biologic agent should not use it. Those with allergy to mouse protein should not use biologic agents. People with moderate-to-severe heart failure should not take doses greater than 5 mg/kg.
  • Use: Infliximab is administered as a 2-hour intravenous infusion in doctors' offices. Initially, patients receive 3 doses within a 6-week period; thereafter, they receive a dose every 8 weeks to maintain the effect. Humira is a twice monthly subcutaneous injection that is usually self-administered. Cimzia is a once a month intramuscular injection.
  • Drug or food interactions: Use of other immunosuppressants increases the risk of infection.
  • Side effects: These drugs may increase the risk of infection, particularly when other immunosuppressants are used at the same time. There is a risk of reactivation of latent tuberculosis (TB) and hepatitis B. Individuals with heart failure may experience worsening of heart disease. Biologic agents may cause fever, rash, headache, or muscle aches 3 to 12 days after administration. Over a period of time, patients' bodies may produce antibodies against infliximab, thereby decreasing the drug's effectiveness. Humira and Cimzia are derived from human antibodies to anti-TNF and hence, may be used in Remicade failures.

Medically reviewed by John A. Daller, MD, =American Board of Surgery with subspecialty certification in surgical critical care


Farrell, Richard, J. MD. "Overview of the medical management of mild to moderate Crohn's disease in adults." UpToDate. Updated Mar 17, 2015.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 5/26/2016
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