RA Treatments & Infections

We often notice valuable discussions taking place within our community forums or Facebook page that we like to highlight as a part of our Headlines. Below is a discussion on RA treatments and infections that we thought our community members would find interesting. Please note that the opinions represented here are solely those of their authors.

Data suggest that people with RA may have an increased susceptibility to the development of infections, but reasons for this increased risk are not fully understood.1 This increase in infection risk may be due to immunologic disruptions associated with the disease itself, or to the immunosuppressive effects of certain medications used to treat it, or a combination of the two. We received a question about infection while on treatment with a DMARD, which was addressed by our moderator, Andrew Lumpe.

Community Question - Orencia Infusion side effect: UTI Has anyone had this happen from infusion? What did you do beside antibiotics? were you allowed to take your next scheduled treatment? If so did it happen again?

Response from Andrew Lumpe:


Urinary tract infections, and upper respiratory infections, are common side effects from many RA treatments since the immune system may be suppressed from the drug. I've had one UTI since being on RA treatments. Sometimes a doctor will ask the patient to stop taking their treatment until the infection gets under control. Orencia infusion is given once a month and self-inject once a week and it could be that the doctor will ask her to stop taking it for a while. If infections keep coming back, then new antibiotics may have to be used and/or the RA treatment discontinued and a new one started. Make sure that you talk to a rheumatologist about this. Hope this helps.

Additional information:

The prescribing information for Orencia states that, in the placebo-controlled trials for the drug, "The most commonly reported infections (reported in 5%-13% of patients) were upper respiratory tract infection, nasopharyngitis, sinusitis, urinary tract infection, influenza, and bronchitis...The most common (0.2%-0.5%) serious infections reported with Orencia were pneumonia, cellulitis, urinary tract infection, bronchitis, diverticulitis, and acute pyelonephritis...Many of the serious infections have occurred in patients on concomitant immunosuppressive therapy which in addition to their underlying disease, could further predispose them to infection. Physicians should exercise caution when considering the use of Orencia in patients with a history of recurrent infections, underlying conditions which may predispose them to infections, or chronic, latent, or localized infections. Patients who develop a new infection while undergoing treatment with Orencia should be monitored closely. Administration of Orencia should be discontinued if a patient develops a serious infection."2

Do you take DMARDs to treat your RA? Please share your experiences with us in the comments!

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