Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Health Center

Font Size

What Biologics Are Used to Treat Crohn's Disease?

Biologics are a type of prescription drug. Your doctor may consider them for you after you've already tried other treatments.

Biologics, which are made from living organisms, work on your immune system. They target specific proteins in your body that cause inflammation.

Recommended Related to Inflammatory Bowel Disease

How to Have a Confident Social Life With IBD

Chances are your inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is under good control thanks to effective medicine. But even if you're in remission from Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis, you may fear having sudden cramps or worse when you're out and about. The good news: You don't have to give up your social life. People who've been there share their advice:

Read the How to Have a Confident Social Life With IBD article > >

Other drugs used to treat Crohn’s, such as corticosteroids, suppress your entire immune system and can cause significant side effects. Biologics may have fewer side effects, but some of them can be very serious.

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 involved in inflammation. Natalizumab blocks certain white blood cells in your blood that lead to inflammation. Vedolizumab blocks the inflammatory cells from crossing the blood vessels' walls into areas of inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. 

Adalimumab (Humira)

This biologic may reduce symptoms of moderate to severe Crohn’s disease in people who haven't responded to standard treatment or to infliximab. Adalimumab may also help keep Crohn’s symptoms from coming back.

How given: injection under the skin

Common side effects:

  • Redness, swelling, itching, pain, rash, or bruising at the injection site
  • Upper respiratory or sinus infections
  • Headache
  • Nausea

Other potential side effects: As with other biologics, adalimumab has the potential for serious side effects, including TB, sepsis, and other infections. In rare cases, people have gotten cancers such as lymphoma.

Certolizumab pegol (Cimzia)

This drug reduces symptoms of moderate to severe Crohn’s disease in people who have not responded to standard treatment. It also helps keeps Crohn’s symptoms from returning.

How given: injection under the skin

Common side effects:

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

Other potential side effects: All biologics share the potential for serious side effects, including infections like tuberculosis (TB) and sepsis. These drugs don't cause TB, but they may trigger the infection in people who've already been exposed to the disease. 

You may be vulnerable to other infections as well. Tell your doctor right away if you have an infection, or if you have a cough, fever, fatigue, or the flu. In rare cases, some people have developed certain cancers such as lymphoma.

Today on WebMD

woman with pains in abdomen
Get personalized tips.
woman in restaurant
Tips for staying active.
woman clutching at stomach
Causes, symptoms, treatments, and more.
butter curls
What to eat and avoid.
Living With Crohns Slideshow
Ulcerative Colitis Surgery Slideshow
crohns disease healthcheck
Ulcerative Colitis Health Check
Crohns Symptoms
Ulcerative Colitis Diet
Crohns Prebiotic
Supplements UC