Orencia vs. Enbrel

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Orencia (Abatacept) decreases inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis. Orencia (Abatacept) slows the progress of rheumatoid arthritis, but can also have serious side effects.Calms down your immune system. Enbrel (Etanercept) is very effective at calming down your immune system, but it's expensive, you have to take into account the hassle of injections and traveling with the medication.
How it works
Orencia (Abatacept) is called a DMARD, a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug. It prevents your body from activating cells that cause inflammation.Enbrel (Etanercept) is a biologic response modifier. It works in the immune system to block a protein called TNF (tumor necrosis factor). Blocking TNF relieves symptoms and prevents disease progression.
Type of medication
Biological response modifier
Prescription only
Biological response modifier
Prescription only
Available as
  • Injection
  • Injection
Used for (click to learn more)
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Reviews & ratings
Button Group. All currently active
Button Group. All currently active
Reviews for Enbrel (Etanercept)
-42% vs. Orencia (Abatacept)
-48% vs. Orencia (Abatacept)
-2% vs. Orencia (Abatacept)
Side effects
  • Headache 5%
  • High blood pressure 3%
  • Common cold 3%
  • Indigestion 2%
  • Dizziness 2%
  • Back pain 1%
  • Rash 1%
  • Pain in extremity 1%
  • Cough 1%
  • Urinary tract infection 1%
More Orencia side effects »
  • Injection site reactions 26%
  • Any infection 11%
  • Positive anti-double-stranded dna antibodies 11%
  • Upper respiratory infections 8%
  • Non-upper respiratory infections 6%
  • Positive ana 6%
  • Itching 1%
  • Rash 1%
More Enbrel side effects »
Risk factors for serious side effects
        • Taking immunosuppressive medications
        • History of repeat infections
        • Adults with rheumatoid arthritis taking TNF inhibitors
        Detailed Orencia (Abatacept) risks & warnings »
          • History of heart failure
          • Taking other immunosuppressant drugs
          • Age 60 or older
          • Taking other immunosuppressant drugs
          • History of malignancy
          • History of neurologic condition
            Detailed Enbrel (Etanercept) risks & warnings »
            Pregnancy category
            CFDA pregnancy category (Weigh risks vs. benefits)

            Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

            See the FDA package insert
            BFDA pregnancy category (Probably safe)

            Research studies with animals haven’t found a risk to unborn babies, but it hasn’t been properly studied in humans.

            See the FDA package insert
            No specific alcohol-related info.No specific alcohol-related info.
            No specific food-related info.No specific food-related info.
            Kidneys and liver
            No specific kidneys and liver-related info.No specific kidneys and liver-related info.
            No specific sex-related info.No specific sex-related info.
            No specific sleep-related info.No specific sleep-related info.
            No specific weight-related info.
            • Enbrel (Etanercept) can increase your risk of serious or life-threatening bacterial, fungal and viral infections. In some cases infections can be reactivated from an inactive virus in your body like tuberculosis (TB) or hepatitis B virus (HBV). You may need to take medicine for TB before you can begin taking Enbrel (Etanercept). If you develop symptoms of cough, fever, chills, muscle aches, feel very tired, or you notice dark urine, yellowing of skin/eyes, appetite/weight loss, vomiting, change in stool color, stomach discomfort, and skin rash, tell your doctor and get medical care right away.
            Upsides and benefits
            • Helps minimize joint damage, lowers symptoms, and prevents future problems.
            • 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.
            • People taking [name-common] 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.
            • Orencia (Abatacept) can be used without other medications for RA.
            • Treats certain types of arthritis conditions caused by an overactive immune system.
            • Enbrel is the first biologic approved for moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis.
            • It has an established safety profile for treatment of rheumatoid arthritis (RA).
            • Available as a single-use syringe and SureClick auto-injector pen which may be more convenient and easier for some people to use.
            • People taking Enbrel for rheumatoid arthritis showed significant improvement and were able to reduce the dose or stop immunosuppressant medicines.
            Downsides and risks
            • You'll have to get your blood tested regularly while taking Orencia (Abatacept).
            • You'll probably have to take other medications to help treat your RA symptoms.
            • Orencia (Abatacept) is pretty expensive.
            • The IV infusion form of Orencia (Abatacept) can cause a reaction, which ranges from a slight itching or warm feeling to more serious complications like low blood pressure and chest pain.
            • Because RA is chronic disease, you'll likely take Orencia (Abatacept) for many years.
            • It's an injection.
            • It's expensive because there's no generic available yet.
            • Enbrel lowers your ability to fight infection and can cause serious life-threatening illness. The risk is greater if you take other drugs that lower your immune system, have an active infection, diabetes, or had tuberculosis (TB) in the past.
            • You're first dose of Enbrel will need to be given at your doctor's office. If you decide not to self-inject and don't have someone to do it for you, you'll need to continue to see your doctor for each dose.
            • You'll need to properly dispose of the needle, syringes, or Pen in a special (FDA-approved) sharps container.
            • Because it needs to be refrigerated until you use it, if you're traveling, you'll need to carry it in a cooler with an ice pack.
            Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
            • Keep the Orencia (Abatacept) self-injection refrigerated, but let it rest at room temperature for 30 to 60 minutes before using it.
            • Each time you use Orencia (Abatacept), be sure to rotate the sites you chose to inject it in. Don't inject it where your skin is tender, bruised, red, or scaly.
            • If you decide to go with the IV version of Orencia (Abatacept), you will only need to get infusions once a month. The self-injections however need to be taken once a week.
            • If you get the IV infusion, stay hydrated, try to relax, and ask your nurse to apply dry heat (instant warm packs) to your arm to help find your good veins.
            • Enbrel (Etanercept) is available as a single-use prefilled syringe, single-use prefilled SureClick Autoinjector, and multiple-use vial. You and your doctor can discuss which is best for you.
            • The autoinjector can be stored at room temperature for up to 14 days and can't be refrigerated again.
            • 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 so you learn how to do it correctly.
            • Enbrel (Etanercept) lowers the your immune system's ability to fight infections, so it's important to let your doctor know if you come down with a fever, cough, or notice flu-like symptoms.
            • You'll need to have a TB test before you start using Enbrel (Etanercept).
            • Tell your doctor if you have an allergy to latex since the syringe needle cover has latex in it.
            • Don't inject Enbrel (Etanercept) into skin that's red, bruised, or irritated. Rotate your injection areas to avoid skin reactions.
            • As with all injection medicines, store away from children and throw used syringes away in a protective container, and not in the trash.
            Learn more
            More about OrenciaSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert
            More about EnbrelSide effectsReviews & ratingsAlternativesFDA package insert