This medication is used alone or with other medications (e.g., methotrexate) to treat rheumatoid arthritis, a condition in which the body's own defense system (immune system) attacks the healthy tissues around the joints. It is usually used when other medications for rheumatoid arthritis are not successful in controlling the disease. Abatacept helps slow joint damage and reduce the joint pain/swelling so you can move better. It works by weakening your immune system and decreasing swelling (inflammation).
Read the Patient Information Leaflet provided by your pharmacist before you start receiving abatacept and each time you get a treatment. If you have any questions, consult your doctor or pharmacist.
This medication is given by injection into a vein by a health care professional, usually over 30 minutes. After the first dose, this medication is usually given again 2 weeks and 4 weeks later, then every 4 weeks or as directed by your doctor. The dosage is based on your weight.
You should receive this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, mark your calendar to keep track of when to receive the next dose.
Tell your doctor if your symptoms do not improve or if they worsen.
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, pain when urinating, severe abdominal pain.
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 immediately 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, patients using abatacept have developed cancer (e.g., lymphoma, lung cancer). Tell your doctor immediately 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: chronic obstructive pulmonary disease-COPD, current/recent/returning infection (e.g., tuberculosis, hepatitis virus), cut or open sore, cancer, immune system disorder (e.g., HIV infection, bone marrow disorder), diabetes (especially if you are checking your blood sugar level at home).
Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist that you are using this medication.
Do not have immunizations/vaccinations while using this medication or up to 3 months after stopping this medication without the consent of your doctor. Also avoid contact with people who have recently received oral polio vaccine or flu vaccine inhaled through the nose.
It is recommended that children be up to date on all their childhood vaccinations before starting abatacept.
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.
Some abatacept products are made with maltose. This substance can cause false high blood sugar levels when your blood sugar is normal or even low. If you have diabetes, check with your pharmacist whether the product you are using contains maltose and whether your blood sugar testing supplies will work with this product. Rarely, serious problems have occurred when too much insulin was given because of false high sugar readings or when low blood sugar went untreated.
Caution is advised when using this drug in the elderly because they may be more sensitive to its effects, especially increased risk of infections.
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: TNF blocking agents (e.g., adalimumab, etanercept, infliximab), other drugs that weaken the immune system (e.g., tacrolimus, cyclosporine, tofacitinib).
The manufacturer recommends that this medication not be used with anakinra, another drug for rheumatoid arthritis.
This medication may interfere with certain tests (including certain blood sugar tests), possibly causing false test results. This can lead to serious (possibly fatal) consequences. Tell all laboratory personnel and all your doctors and pharmacists that you use this medication, and which type of blood sugar testing strips you use.
If overdose is suspected, contact a poison control center or emergency room immediately. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center.
Laboratory and/or medical tests should be performed 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.
Not applicable. This medication is given in a clinic and will not be stored at home.
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.
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