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

Font Size

Newer RA Drugs Don't Seem to Raise Shingles Risk


Two other classes of drugs -- the "biologic" anti-TNF drugs and a group of medications called non-biologic disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs) -- are newer medications that can be used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune conditions. Examples of biologics are adalimumab (Humira), etanercept (Enbrel) and infliximab (Remicade). A commonly used DMARD is methotrexate.

Winthrop and his colleagues reviewed data from almost 60,000 people with various autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. More than 33,000 were taking biologic anti-TNF drugs, and almost 26,000 were on DMARDs. The study period ran from 1998 through 2008.

They found no significant increase in the risk of shingles based on the type of medicine people were taking, with the exception of a high dose of corticosteroids. People taking more than 10 milligrams a day of corticosteroid medication had twice the odds of developing shingles.

Dr. Patience White, vice president of public health for the Arthritis Foundation, said the study's findings were good news.

"People worry a lot about taking drugs, and this well-done study says this is another thing we don't have to worry about," said White, who also is a professor of medicine and pediatrics at the George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences, in Washington, D.C. "Drug therapies, other than corticosteroids, don't increase the risk of getting [shingles]."

Both White and Winthrop said people, if possible, should get the shingles vaccine before they start taking medication for an autoimmune condition. The shingles vaccine is a live vaccine, so it's not recommended for people who are on any type of immune-system-altering drug.

Winthrop said that based on the latest findings, he suspects it would be OK to vaccinate people on the newer medications, but he added that a study would need to be done first to confirm that.

1 | 2

Today on WebMD

rubbing hands
Avoid these 6 common mistakes.
mature couple exercising
Decrease pain, increase energy.
mature woman threading needle
How much do you know?
Swelling, fatigue, pain, and more.
Lucille Ball
Hand bones X-ray
prescription pills
Woman massaging her neck
woman roasting vegetables in oven
Woman rubbing shoulder
Working out with light weights