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Treating RA With Biologics: Medications at a Glance

Kineret (anakinra)

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 (cases are mild), colds, headache, and nausea.

Your doctor should:

  • Test you for tuberculosis and hepatitis before you take it.
  • Monitor you for tuberculosis or other infection while you're taking it.

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

Orencia (abatacept)

How you take it: by injection or infusion

How often you take it: Depends on whether you're taking it by infusion or by injection. Both are available. Injections are given weekly while infusions are given monthly.

Most common side effects: headache, cold, sore throat, and dizziness.

Your doctor should:

  • Test you for tuberculosis and hepatitis before you take it.
  • Monitor you for tuberculosis or other infections while you're taking it.

How it works: It reduces inflammation by blocking activity of immune system cells called T cells.

Remicade (infliximab)

How you take it:  by infusion

How often you take it:  Your doctor will decide on the dose and how often you should take it.

Most common side effects: respiratory infections (such as sinus infections and sore throat), headache, coughing, stomach pain.

Your doctor should:

  • Test you for tuberculosis and hepatitis before you take it.
  • Monitor you for tubercuolsis or other infection while you're taking it.

How it works: Doctors call this type of a drug a "TNF blocker" since it targets tumor necrosis factor (TNF), a chemical your body makes that causes inflammation.

Rituxan (rituximab)

How you take it: by infusion

How often you take it: Your first two infusions are two weeks apart. Four to eight months later, your doctor will see if you need to take it again. The infusions can be repeated every six months.

Common side effects: reactions to the infusion, chills, infections, body aches, tiredness, low white blood cell count.

Your doctor should:

  • Test you for tuberculosis and hepatitis before you take it.
  • Monitor you for tuberculosis or other infection while you're taking it.

How it works: Targets certain B-cells, which are part of your immune system.

Simponi (golimumab)

How you take it: by injection or IV

How often you take it: monthly if by injection, every 8 weeks by IV

Most common side effects: runny nose, sore throat, hoarseness or laryngitis; pain, skin reactions, or tingling where you get the shot; and viral infections such as flu and cold sores.

Your doctor should:

  • Test you for tuberculosis and hepatitis before you take it.
  • Monitor you for tuberculosis or other infection while you're taking it.

How it works: Doctors call this type of a drug a "TNF blocker" since it targets tumor necrosis factor (TNF), a chemical your body makes that causes inflammation.

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WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by David Zelman, MD on June 25, 2013

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