This medication is used alone or with other medications (such as methotrexate) to treat rheumatoid arthritis, a condition in which the body's own defense system (immune system) attacks healthy joints. Abatacept helps slow joint damage and reduce joint pain and swelling. It works by weakening your immune system and decreasing swelling (inflammation).
Read the Patient Information Leaflet and Instructions for Use provided by your pharmacist before you start receiving abatacept and each time you get a treatment. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
This drug is given by injection under the skin of your thigh, abdomen, or upper arm as directed by your doctor, usually once a week. Your doctor may direct you to first receive abatacept by injection into a vein (loading dose) before starting treatment with this form of the medication. If you are switching from regularly scheduled injections into a vein, carefully follow your doctor's directions for when to start using this medication (usually instead of the next scheduled dose).
Remove this medication from the refrigerator and leave it at room temperature for 30 to 60 minutes before injecting. Do not warm up this medication any other way. For example, do not heat it in the microwave or place it in hot water.
If you are using this medication at home, read and learn all preparation and usage instructions from your health care professional. Before using, check this product visually for particles or discoloration. If either is present, do not use the liquid.
Before injecting each dose, clean the injection site with rubbing alcohol. Change the injection site each time to lessen injury under the skin. Do not inject into any areas of skin that are sore, bruised, red, scaly, or hard.
Learn how to store and discard needles and medical supplies safely. Never reuse syringes or needles. Consult your pharmacist.
Use this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, mark your calendar to keep track of when you need to receive the next dose.
Tell your doctor if your condition does not improve or if it worsens.
Headache, nausea, diarrhea, or cold/flu symptoms (such as runny nose, congestion) may occur. Pain, irritation, or swelling at/near the injection site may also occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: shortness of breath, change in the amount of urine.
Because abatacept works by weakening the immune system, it may lower your ability to fight infections. This may make you more likely to get a serious (rarely fatal) infection or make any infection you have worse. Tell your doctor right away if you have any signs of infection (such as cough, sore throat, fever, chills, pain when urinating).
The immune system is also important in preventing and controlling cancer. Very rarely, people using abatacept have developed cancer (such as lymphoma, lung cancer). Tell your doctor right away if you develop symptoms such as unusual lumps/growths, swollen glands, night sweats, unexplained weight loss, shortness of breath, wheezing, persistent cough.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
In the US -
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Before using abatacept, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease-COPD, current/recent/returning infection (such as tuberculosis, hepatitis virus), immune system disorder (for example, due to HIV infection or a bone marrow disorder).
Abatacept can make you more likely to get infections or may worsen any current infections. Therefore, wash your hands well to prevent the spread of infection. Avoid contact with people who have infections that may spread to others (such as chickenpox, measles, flu). Consult your doctor if you have been exposed to an infection or for more details.
While you are using this medication and for 3 months after stopping this medication, do not have immunizations or vaccinations without the consent of your doctor. Avoid contact with people who have recently received live vaccines (such as flu vaccine inhaled through the nose).
Children using this medication should have all recommended vaccinations before starting treatment with abatacept. Ask the child's doctor for details.
Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products).
During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.
It is unknown if this medication passes into breast milk. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.
Some products that may interact with this drug include: other drugs that may weaken the immune system (such as anakinra, cyclosporine, tacrolimus, tofacitinib, TNF blocking drugs including adalimumab/etanercept/infliximab).
If overdose is suspected, contact a poison control center or emergency room right away. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center.
Do not share this medication with others.
Laboratory and/or medical tests (such as tuberculosis skin test, test for hepatitis B virus) should be performed before you start treatment, and periodically to monitor your progress or check for side effects. Consult your doctor for more details.
For the best possible benefit, it is important to receive each scheduled dose of this medication as directed. If you miss a dose, contact your doctor to establish a new dosing schedule.
Store this medication in the refrigerator between 36-46 degrees F (2-8 degrees C) away from light. Do not freeze. Keep all medications away from children and pets.
Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company.
MEDICAL ALERT: Your condition can cause complications in a medical emergency. For information about enrolling in MedicAlert, call 1-888-633-4298 (US) or 1-800-668-1507 (Canada).
Information last revised March 2013. Copyright(c) 2013 First Databank, Inc.
With WebMD's Medicine Cabinet, you can check interactions with drugs.Go to medicine cabinet