Compare Enbrel vs. Orencia

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.

Enbrel
(etanercept)

Orencia
(abatacept)

Calms down your immune system to prevent joint damage. Enbrel (etanercept) effectively calms down your immune system, but it puts you at risk of serious infections.Calms down the immune system and prevents joint damage. Orencia (abatacept) slows the progress of rheumatoid arthritis, but can also cause serious side effects.
Reviews & ratings
Filter group. All currently selected
Filter group. All currently selected
4.99Enbrel
Reviews for Enbrel
62%
of people (All ages) say Enbrel is worth it
53%
say it works well
17%
say it's a big hassle
Have you used Enbrel (etanercept)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it

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Have you used Orencia (abatacept)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
Side effects
EnbrelOrencia
  • Infections 11%
  • Upper airway infections 8%
  • Injection site reactions 26%
  • Non-upper respiratory infections 6%
  • Rash 1%
  • Fever 3%
  • Itchiness 1%
More Enbrel side effects »
  • Headache 5%
  • Common cold 3%
  • Dizziness 2%
  • Cough 1%
  • Back pain 1%
  • High blood pressure 3%
  • Indigestion 2%
  • Urinary tract infection 1%
  • Rash 1%
  • Pain in arms or legs 1%
More Orencia side effects »
How it works
EnbrelOrencia
Enbrel (etanercept) blocks a protein called TNF (tumor necrosis factor) in the immune system which lowers inflammation, relieves symptoms and prevents disease progression.Orencia (abatacept) is a biologic DMARD (disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug) - sometimes just called a "biologic". It prevents your body from activating the cells that cause inflammation.
Type of medication
EnbrelOrencia
Prescription onlyPrescription only
Available as
EnbrelOrencia
  • Injection
  • Infusion
  • Injection
Used for
EnbrelOrencia
Risk factors for serious side effects
EnbrelOrencia
  • Latex allergy
  • History of heart failure
  • Taking other immunosuppressant drugs
  • Age 65 or older
Detailed Enbrel (etanercept) risks & warnings »
  • Using TNF inhibitors
  • Taking immunosuppressive medications
  • History of repeat infections
  • Adults with rheumatoid arthritis taking TNF inhibitors
  • COPD
Detailed Orencia (abatacept) risks & warnings »
Pregnancy
Upsides and benefits
EnbrelOrencia
  • People taking Enbrel (etanercept) for rheumatoid arthritis showed significant improvement and were able to reduce the dose or stop their other RA medicines.
  • Enbrel (etanercept) can work for you even if other medications didn't help your rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Enbrel (etanercept) is the first biologic approved for moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis. Since it has been around for a long time, its side effects are well known.
  • Many people have only minor or no side effects.
  • It's available as a pre-filled syringe and SureClick auto-injector pen which some people find more convenient and easier to use.
  • In a 2-year study that used IV Orencia (abatacept) with methotrexate, more than half of the people had remission and the majority felt significantly better.
  • Helps minimize joint damage, lowers symptoms, and prevents future problems. People taking Orencia (abatacept) had no new joint damage after two years.
  • Taking Orencia (abatacept) allows RA patients to use less prednisone, a steroid that has many side effects.
  • You can give yourself Orencia (abatacept) subcutaneously on your own at home rather than visiting a clinic or hospital.
  • Available in a prefilled autoinjector for convenient use.
Downsides and risks
EnbrelOrencia
  • Enbrel (etanercept) raises your risk of serious or life-threatening infections, including tuberculosis (TB).
  • Enbrel (etanercept) can increase the risk of lymphoma, leukemia and other cancers.
  • May not be the best choice if you have a history of heart failure or nervous system problems like multiple sclerosis.
  • You'll need to have regular blood tests before and during treatment to make sure you don't have any problems taking Enbrel (etanercept).
  • You could get injection site reactions such as redness, swelling, rash, itching, or bruising.
  • Orencia (abatacept) can be costly.
  • The IV infusion form of Orencia (abatacept) can cause a reaction, which ranges from a slight itching or warm feeling to more serious side effects such as low blood pressure and chest pain.
  • The IV infusion form of Orencia (abatacept) contains maltose, a type of sugar, that can give false high blood sugar readings with certain types of blood sugar monitors on the day of Orencia (abatacept) infusion. The self-injection subcutaneous form does not contain maltose. Talk to your doctor if you have diabetes.
  • If you need TNF inhibitors as part of your treatment, it is not recommended to take Orencia (abatacept). If you have COPD, you are at higher risk of side effects.
  • Orencia (abatacept) lowers your ability to fight infection. Your risk can increase if you take medications that lower your immune system or have an active infection. You may need to get tested for tuberculosis before starting Orencia (abatacept).
Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
EnbrelOrencia
  • Enbrel (etanercept) is available as an injection and a SureClick Autoinjector. You and your doctor can discuss which is best for you.
  • Enbrel (etanercept) is a medication that's injected under the skin (subcutaneous). Your doctor can give you your first dose, then let you self-inject it once you learn how to do it correctly.
  • Enbrel (etanercept) lowers your immune system's ability to fight infections including tuberculosis (TB), fungal, viral, and bacterial infections. Your doctor will check for TB and hepatitis B before starting Enbrel (etanercept). Let your doctor know if you come down with a fever, cough, or notice flu-like symptoms before or during treatment.
  • Enbrel (etanercept) can cause redness, rash, swelling, itching, or bruising at the site of injection. Do not inject into skin that's already red, bruised, or irritated. Rotate your injection areas to avoid skin reactions.
  • Keep Enbrel (etanercept) refrigerated, but let it rest at room temperature for 30 to 60 minutes before using it. Enbrel (etanercept) should not be used if kept at room temperature for longer than 14 days.
  • You should not receive certain vaccinations with Enbrel (etanercept). Discuss with your doctor about your vaccine history and whether you need to receive any vaccines before treatment.
  • If you are using the IV version of Orencia (abatacept), you will only need to get infusions once a month (after the first initial doses). It takes about 30 minutes to give the full dose of medicine. Stay hydrated and ask your nurse to apply dry heat (instant warm packs) to your arm to help find your good veins.
  • The self-injections are taken once a week. You or your caregiver should receive training on the proper way to prepare and inject Orencia (abatacept).
  • Keep the Orencia (abatacept) self-injection refrigerated, and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes before using it.
  • Each time you use Orencia (abatacept), it's important to rotate the sites you chose to inject it in. Don't inject Orencia (abatacept) into skin that's red, bruised, or irritated.
  • Talk with your doctor before getting any vaccines. Use of this drug may either raise the chance of an infection or make the vaccine not work as well.
  • As with all injection medicines, store it securely away from children and throw away used syringes in an FDA-approved sharps disposal container, never in the trash.
Learn more
More about EnbrelSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Enbrel (etanercept)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it
More about OrenciaSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
Have you used Orencia (abatacept)?
Worth itNot sureNot worth it