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Inflammatory Bowel Disease Health Center

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Which Biologics Are Used to Treat Crohn's Disease?

Biologics are prescription drugs made from living organisms. Your doctor may prescribe one to you if other treatments haven’t worked.

Biologics work on your immune system. They target specific proteins in your body that cause inflammation.

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The FDA has approved five biologics to treat Crohn’s disease:

  • Adalimumab (Humira) 
  • Certolizumab pegol (Cimzia)
  • Infliximab (Remicade)
  • Natalizumab (Tysabri)
  • Vedolizumab (Entyvio)

Adalimumab, certolizumab pegol, and infliximab target a protein called TNF-alpha that's part of the inflammation process.

Natalizumab blocks certain white blood cells that lead to inflammation.

Vedolizumab stops the cells from crossing the blood vessels' walls into inflamed areas of your gastrointestinal tract.

Adalimumab (Humira)

This drug may lessen symptoms of moderate to severe Crohn’s disease. It may also help keep them from coming back.

How’s it given: You get it by aninjection under the skin.

What are the most common side effects?

  • Redness, swelling, itching, pain, rash, or bruising of the skin where you were injected
  • Upper respiratory or sinus infections
  • Headache
  • Nausea

What are some other potential side effects? All biologics share the potential for serious side effects, including infections like tuberculosis and sepsis. These drugs don't cause tuberculosis, but they may trigger it in people already exposed to the disease. 

A few people have gotten cancers like lymphoma.

Certolizumab pegol (Cimzia)

This drug reduces symptoms of moderate to severe Crohn’s disease. It also helps to keep them from returning.

How’s it given: You get it by injection under the skin.

What are the most common side effects?

  • Rash
  • Swelling
  • Joint pain
  • Upper respiratory tract infection
  • Urinary tract infection

What are other potential side effects? You may be more likely to get tuberculosis and sepsis. 

You odds of getting other infections may be higher than most. Tell your doctor right away if you have an infection, or if you have a cough, fever, fatigue, or the flu. In rare cases, people have developed cancers like lymphoma.

Infliximab (Remicade)

This drug can lessen your symptoms. It may also help heal and reduce your number of fistulas. These are sores that form tunnels between parts of your intestines, or from the intestines to your organs or skin. They often become infected and drain pus, mucus, or stool.

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