Treating Crohn's With Biologics: Drugs at a Glance
Biologic drugs can be a good option to help make your Crohn's symptoms go away and prevent new flare-ups. To do this, they attack enzymes or proteins that inflame your intestine.
Biologics don't suppress your whole immune system, as steroids tend to, so they are less likely to cause major side effects.
Recommended Related to Inflammatory Bowel Disease
Microscopic colitis is a type of inflammation of the colon, or large intestine, that can cause watery diarrhea and cramping. While it can be painful and unpleasant, it's much less severe than other types of inflammatory bowel disease.
It's called microscopic because the inflammation is too small to see with the naked eye. The only way your doctor can diagnose it is to take a sample of tissue and check it under a microscope.
There are two types of microscopic colitis:
Read the Microscopic Colitis article > >
There are four biologic drugs approved to treat Crohn's disease. Three of them are in the class of drugs known as TNF-blockers:
Tysabri (natalizumab), the fourth biologic drug, is in the drug class known as monoclonal antibodies.
Cimzia. This drug is given as a shot. After your first shot, you get injections at 2 and 4 weeks. After that you get a shot every 4 weeks.
Humira. This is also given as a shot. You'll need to take a shot every 2 weeks.
Remicade. You take this drug through an IV. After your first IV dose, you'll get another IV dose at 2 weeks and 6 weeks. After that you'll get an IV dose every 8 weeks.
The side effects vary by the class of drug you are taking.
Common side effects for TNF-blockers -- Cimzia, Humira, and Remicade -- include:
Side effects at the location of the injection include:
Some serious potential side effects include:
New or worse symptoms of heart failure
Face or throat swelling
Muscle weakness and numbness
Higher risk of serious infections and lymphoma
Before you start taking any of these drugs your doctor will screen you for tuberculosis (TB) and check for new signs of TB during treatment.
Common side effects for Tysabri, a monoclonal antibody, include:
Serious potential side effects include:
Face or throat swelling
Tysabri may also raise your risk of a rare brain infection that causes death or severe disability. You should not take it if you have a weakened immune system.