› Although rare, Remicade (infliximab) can hurt your liver. If you have appetite/weight loss, stomach discomfort, vomiting, or dark urine, talk to your doctor. If you have yellowing of skin/eyes, talk to your doctor right away.
Upsides and benefits
› 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.
› People taking Remicade (infliximab) for ulcerative colitis, Crohn's disease, rheumatoid arthritis and other autoimmune conditions had more clinical response, clinical remission and symptom improvement compared to people who did not take Remicade (infliximab).
› People who were also taking steroids for treatment were able to discontinue steroid use while taking Remicade (infliximab).
› Remicade (infliximab) has almost two decades of clinical trial data and real-life experience with many people who have used it.
› After the initial dosing, you only need to take Remicade (infliximab) every 6-8 weeks, depending on your condition.
› Compared to other medications used to treat autoimmune conditions, Remicade (infliximab) has not been associated with as many harmful effects during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Downsides and risks
› 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).
› You have to receive this medication at your doctor's office or clinic. You might need to be tested regularly for tuberculosis.
› Remicade (infliximab) lowers your ability to fight infection and can cause serious illness. The risk is greater if you take other drugs that lower your immune system, or have a history of diabetes or tuberculosis.
› Remicade (infliximab) can in some cases worsen symptoms of heart failure or neurologic conditions. People 65 years and older may have more side effects from this medication.
› In rare cases, Remicade (infliximab) has been associated with cancers in children and adolescents.
› No generic available, so it can be costly.
Tips from our pharmacists for people taking the medication
› 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.
› Remicade (infliximab) can in some cases cause a serious allergic reaction either immediately or several days after the treatment. Your doctor can give you medicines that will lower this risk.
› Your doctor will test you for tuberculosis before taking Remicade (infliximab) and regularly during treatment.
› Remicade (infliximab) lowers your immune system's ability to fight infections, so it's important to let your doctor know if you notice a fever, cough, or flu-like symptoms.
› You should not receive any live vaccines while taking Remicade (infliximab). Tell your doctor that you are taking Remicade (infliximab) before receiving any vaccines.
› If you have any signs or new or worsening symptoms such as heart, neurological, or autoimmune conditions, talk to your doctor. Tell your doctor about symptoms such as bruising or bleeding.