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Rheumatoid Arthritis: Biologic Drugs at a Glance

Biologic drugs are one of the medicines doctors use to treat moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA). They are work on your immune system to ease inflammation and damage in your joints.

Use this list to get to know the different types.

 

Abatacept (Orencia)

How you take it: By injection or IV

How often you take it: Depends on how you take it. You can get it by injection every week or by IV once a month.

Most common side effects: Headache, cold, sore throat, and dizziness

Your doctor should:

  • Test you for tuberculosis and hepatitis before you take it.
  • Check you for infections, including tuberculosis, while you take it.

How it works: It blocks the immune system’s T cells to lower inflammation.

Adalimumab (Humira)

How you take it: By injection

How often you take it: Once every 2 weeks

Most common side effects: Colds, sinus infection, headache, and rash

Your doctor should:

  • Test you for tuberculosis and hepatitis before you take it.
  • Check you for infections, including tuberculosis, while you take it.

How it works: It targets tumor necrosis factor (TNF), a chemical your body makes that causes inflammation. Your doctor will call this type of drug a “TNF blocker.”

Anakinra (Kineret)

How you take it: By injection

How often you take it: Daily

Most common side effects: Pain or skin reactions in the area where you get the shot, colds, headache, and nausea.

Your doctor should:

  • Test you for tuberculosis and hepatitis before you take it.
  • Check you for infections, including tuberculosis, while you take it.

How it works: It targets interleukin-1, a chemical your body makes that causes inflammation. Your doctor will call this type of drug an "IL-1 blocker."

Certolizumab (Cimzia)

How you take it: By injection

How often you take it: Usually every 2-4 weeks (your doctor will decide)

Most common side effects: Flu or cold, rash, urinary tract infections      

Your doctor should:

  • Test you for tuberculosis and hepatitis before you take it.
  • Check you for infections, including tuberculosis, while you take it.

How it works: It targets tumor necrosis factor (TNF), a chemical your body makes that causes inflammation. Your doctor will call this type of drug a “TNF blocker.”

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