Skip to content
My WebMD Sign In, Sign Up
Font Size
A
A
A

Biologics for Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment

(continued)

Actemra

Actemra, given by monthly hour-long infusions or weekly (or every other week) injections, is the first IL-6 inhibitor for rheumatoid arthritis. IL-6, or interleukin-6, is a chemical messenger of the immune system.

Actemra is used to treat moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis in patients who have not responded to one or more TNF inhibitors. TNF inhibitors include Cimzia, Enbrel, Humira, Remicade, and Simponi.

The most common side effects include upper respiratory tract infection, inflammation of the nose or throat, headache, high blood pressure, and elevated liver enzyme level.

Cimzia

Cimzia works by blocking the action of a substance in your body called tumor necrosis factor (TNF). Cimzia is an injection. Through the use of prefilled syringes, you can give it to yourself once you are taught to do so by a doctor or nurse. After the initial doses, Cimzia can be taken every 2 to 4 weeks, depending on the dose your doctor feels is right for you.

In addition to pain at the injection site, the most common side effects seen with Cimzia are upper respiratory infections -- such as a cold -- headache, high blood pressure, inflammation of the nose and throat, and back pain.

Enbrel

Enbrel reduces joint inflammation and damage from rheumatoid arthritis by blocking a chemical activator of inflammation called tumor necrosis factor (TNF).

Enbrel is also an injection. Enbrel is given by self-injection under the skin once or twice a week. Patients can learn to give their own injections or receive them from a family member or caregiver who has had proper instruction. Preloaded syringes are available as self-injectable “click-pens.”

In addition to pain at the injection site, Enbrel's most common side effects are infection -- including upper respiratory infections like a cold -- diarrhea, rash, and itchy skin.

Humira

Humira reduces joint inflammation and damage from rheumatoid arthritis by blocking a chemical activator of inflammation called tumor necrosis factor (TNF).

Humira is an injection. It is given by self-injection under the skin once every two weeks. Patients can learn to give their own injections or receive them from a family member or caregiver who has had proper instruction. Preloaded syringes are available as self-injectable “click-pens.”

In addition to pain at the injection site, the most common side effects with Humira are upper respiratory infection (including sinus infection), headache, rash, nausea, and back pain.

Kineret

Kineret is a protein that reduces joint inflammation by blocking the action of the chemical messenger interleukin-1. The drug is administered as one injection daily (can be self-injected or given by another individual).

In addition to pain at the injection site, the most common effects with Kineret are upper respiratory infection (including sinus infection), headache, and nausea, and diarrhea.

Orencia

Orencia is a protein that blocks signals that are needed to activate T-cells of the immune system. Activated T-cells play an important role in the development of rheumatoid arthritis. 

Orencia can be given by intravenous infusion monthly or by weekly injection. Orencia's most common side effects are headache, inflammation of the nose and throat, dizziness, cough, and back pain.

WebMD Medical Reference

Next Article:

What regular treatments are you taking for RA?