Orencia (abatacept)

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: May 2023

Orencia® (abatacept) is biologic drug used to treat people with moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis (RA), including those who have not responded well to other medicines for RA. Orencia may be used alone or with other RA treatments other than Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors or tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers.1

Orencia is also approved to treat other conditions, including juvenile idiopathic arthritis and psoriatic arthritis.1

What are the ingredients in Orencia?

The active ingredient in Orencia is abatacept.1

How does Orencia work?

Orencia is a type of biologic medicine known as a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD). In people with RA, your immune system mistakenly thinks your joints are under attack. To help fight back, your immune system activates T cells, which play a role in RA symptoms like swelling and pain.1

Orencia works by stopping T cells from being activated. By stopping this process, Orencia reduces the number of inflammation signals in the body.1

What are the possible side effects?

The most common side effects of Orencia include:1

  • Headache
  • Sore throat
  • Nausea
  • Common cold
  • Sinus infections

Orencia can make you more likely to get an infection or make a current infection worse. Contact your doctor right away if you have signs of an infection, such as:1

  • Fever or chills
  • Shortness of breath
  • Muscle aches
  • Diarrhea or stomach pain
  • Cough
  • Weight loss

These are not all the possible side effects of Orencia. Talk to your doctor about what to expect when taking Orencia. You also should call your doctor if you have any changes that concern you when taking Orencia.

Other things to know

You should avoid getting certain vaccines while taking Orencia. Talk to your doctor about which vaccines you need and which vaccines you should avoid.1

There is not enough data to know if Orencia is safe to take while pregnant or breastfeeding. Talk to your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding before taking Orencia.1

Before taking Orencia, tell your doctor if you:1

  • Have a current infection or are prone to recurring infections, including open cuts
  • Have HIV, diabetes, or a weakened immune system
  • Have tested positive for TB or have been in close contact with someone who has TB
  • Have or have had hepatitis B
  • Are scheduled to have surgery
  • Have a history of Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) or Cytomegalovirus (SMV)
  • Have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
  • Have or have had skin cancer

Orencia can interact with some other medicines. Before beginning treatment for RA, tell your doctor about all your health conditions and any other drugs, vitamins, or supplements you are taking. This includes over-the-counter drugs.1

For more information, read the full prescribing information of Orencia.

By providing your email address, you are agreeing to our privacy policy.