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Inflammatory Bowel Disease Health Center

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Which Biologics Are Used to Treat Crohn's Disease?

Infliximab (Remicade) continued...

How’s it given: You get it by intravenous (IV) injection.

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
  • Sore throat
  • Headache
  • Rash
  • Nausea
  • Coughing
  • Stomach pain

What are other potential side effects? Like other biologics, there’s a potential for serious infections, such as tuberculosis and sepsis. It’s rare, but some people have gotten cancers like lymphoma. 

Natalizumab (Tysabri)

Your doctor may recommend this drug if you have moderate to severe Crohn's disease with signs of inflammation. If you take it, don’t take other biologics or other drugs that block your immune system.

How’s it given: You get it byintravenous (IV) injection.

Common Side Effects:

  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Urinary tract infections
  • Headache
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach pain
  • Rash

What are other potential side effects? This drug raises the risk of a rare but potentially fatal brain infection called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML). It can also cause allergic reactions and liver damage.

Vedolizumab (Entyvio)

It’s used to treat moderate to severe Crohn’s disease.

How’s it given:  You get it by intravenous (IV) infusion.

What are the most common side effects?

  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Headache
  • Joint pain
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Fever
  • Rash
  • Pain in your hands and feet

What are other potential side effects? Like other biologics, vedolizumab may raise your odds of getting a serious infection like tuberculosis or sepsis. There’s an added risk of allergic reactions, liver damage, and a rare but potentially fatal brain infection called PML. 

Work Closely With Your Doctor

If your doctor prescribes a biologic, she'll keep close tabs on you to be sure the treatment works safely and effectively. So keep all appointments for lab work and doctor visits.

Tell your doctor about all prescription and over-the-counter drugs you take, as well as any supplements or natural remedies. Anything you take can affect the way other medications or supplements work. Don’t take anything new without talking to your doctor first. 

Also, tell your doctor about all of your medical conditions. Let her know if your symptoms get worse or if you notice any new ones.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Jennifer Robinson, MD on November 09, 2015
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