Remicade (Infliximab) is an engineered biologic medication that is approved for use against rheumatoid arthritis, in combination with methotrexate. Methotrexate is the most commonly prescribed medicine against RA. It is known as a disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD).1
When given with methotrexate, Remicade reduces the signs and symptoms of RA and slows the structural damage that occurs in adults with moderately- to severely-active disease, resulting in improved physical functioning and increased quality of life.2,3
Remicade is not available in generic forms.
What are the ingredients in Remicade?
The active ingredient in Remicade is Infliximab.2
How does Remicade work?
Remicade is one of several monoclonal antibodies used to treat RA. Our bodies naturally produce antibodies, which are immune factors that act against bacteria, viruses, and other foreign organisms that invade and pose a threat to our health. Drug makers have engineered a variety of antibodies to target the mechanisms that cause certain diseases, including RA.
Remicade is partially derived from mouse antibodies. It blocks the action of tumor necrosis factor- α (TNF-α) and binds cells that express TNF-α on their surface. TNF-α is an important immune system signaling factor (called a cytokine) that plays a key role in swelling and inflammation. It is found in higher levels in the synovial fluid in the joints of patients with RA, and it is connected to inflammation as well as bone and cartilage damage. Blocking TNF-α helps tamp down the damage caused by the dysfunction of the immune system that is characteristic of RA.2,3
What are the possible side effects of Remicade?
Common side effects with Remicade include:2,4,5
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Stomach pains
- Upper respiratory infection
- Infusion-related reactions, including:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Shortness of breath
- Low blood pressure
- Fever and chills
- Stomach symptoms
- Skin rash
In some patients, Remicade can cause more harmful side effects. Patients who take Remicade are at increased risk for serious infections, including bacterial infections, tuberculosis, reactivation of hepatitis B, and invasive fungal infections.
Children, adolescents, and young adults taking Remicade are also at slightly higher risk for lymphoma and other cancers. Other rare but serious side effects include Hepatitis B reactivation, nerve diseases like multiple sclerosis, certain blood disorders, heart disease, liver problems, and lupus-type symptoms.2
This is not an exhaustive list of all potential side effects of Remicade. If you notice any new or worsening side effects, contact your doctor or healthcare provider immediately. For more information on adverse effects, see the FDA black box warning for Remicade.
Things to note about Remicade
Before taking Remicade, tell your doctor if you2,5:
- Have a current infection or are prone to recurring infections, including open cuts
- Lived in a region where fungal infections are common
- Have HIV, diabetes, or a weakened immune system
- Have tested positive for TB or have been in close contact with someone who has TB (patients should be tested prior to starting and whilst taking Remicade)
- Have or have had Hepatitis B
- Have COPD, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease or are at risk for cancer
- Have or have had heart disease or heart failure
- Have nervous system disorders like multiple sclerosis or Guillain-Barré syndrome
- Are scheduled to receive a vaccine, as patients should not receive live vaccines while taking Remicade
- Are pregnant or plan to become pregnant or are breastfeeding
With Remicade, there is an increased risk for serious infection. This is because Remicade can decrease the ability of the immune system to fight infections. If an infection develops while you are taking this medication, or if you have a severe allergic reaction, contact your doctor immediately. You may need to stop the medication.2
Remicade should not be used in patients with moderate to severe heart failure, since it can make heart symptoms worse. It is also not recommended for patients with nerve diseases like multiple sclerosis. Patients taking this medication should not receive live vaccines.2,5
Tell your doctor about any medications or supplements you are taking while on Remicade, because it doesn’t mix well with certain medicines, especially other biologics approved to treat RA and certain antibiotics. It is important for doctors to test you for TB before you take Remicade.2,4,5