What is Remicade?
Remicade (infliximab) reduces inflammation in the body by blocking the activity of a substance called TNF-alpha.
Remicade is used to treat Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and plaque psoriasis.
Remicade is often used when other drugs have not worked for you, or have caused bad side effects.
Remicade is part of a class of biologic drugs called “anti-TNFs” or “TNF-inhibitors”. Other anti-TNF drugs are: Humira (adalimumab), Cimzia (certolizumab pegol), Simponi (golimumab), Renflexis (infliximab-abda) and Inflectra (infliximab-dyyb).
How is Remicade given?
Remicade is given as an intravenous (IV) infusion into a vein in your arm. Initially, you will receive one infusion at the start of treatment (Week 0). Your second infusion will be two weeks later (Week 2), and the third infusion will be six weeks after your first (Week 6). After the first 3 doses, you will receive an infusion approximately every eight weeks.
You can receive your Remicade dose at various infusion clinics. The infusion process will take approximately 3 hours. During this time, a health care professional will be monitoring you and checking your vital signs (blood pressure, heart rate, temperature, etc).
You may need to reschedule your infusion if you are ill and/or running a fever.
Do not receive a live vaccine while using Remicade. Live vaccines include polio, varicella (chickenpox), zoster (shingles), measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), rotavirus, typhoid, and yellow fever. It is recommended that your immunizations are up to date prior to starting therapy.
For women, it is important to receive annual pap tests, even if previous exams have been negative.
Please speak to your doctor if you have a history of cancer or heart disease as this medication may be contraindicated.
Remicade side effects
Common side effects of Remicade (Infliximab):
- Chest pain or troubled breathing
- Flushing or redness of the face
- Hives, itching or rash
- Muscle pain
- Nasal congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or stomach pain
- Sore throat
- Unusual tiredness or weakness
Some side effects of Remicade can happen almost immediately in direct response to the infusion. Others side effects may not appear until several days, or even months, after the infusion. It can take up to 6 months for Remicade to be eliminated from the body.
Some side effects are mild and go away on their own. Side effects that are more serious may require treatment.
Additional details about the side effects of Remicade are:
- Allergic/Hypersensitivity and Infusion Reactions: These reactions may occur at the start of treatment, during the infusion, or even days after your Remicade treatment. These symptoms may include hives, difficulty breathing, pain, high or low blood pressure, or anaphylaxis. Some reactions can be treated by adding a single dose of an IV steroid, benedryl, and/or Tylenol prior to your infusion.
- Dermatological concerns: This medication has been associated with skin rashes such as psoriasis.
- Lupus-Like Syndrome: This may include symptoms such as chest discomfort/pain that does not go away, shortness of breath, joint pain, or a sun-sensitive rash on the cheeks or arms.
- Neuropathy, Multiple Sclerosis (MS)-Type Symptoms: Signs and symptoms include numbness, weakness, tingling, or changes in your vision.
- Increased risk of infection: Remicade suppresses the activity of the immune system which may increase your risk of developing infections from bacteria, viruses, and certain kinds of fungi. For example, this medication can reactivate tuberculosis (TB) if you’ve been exposed to it and it is dormant in the body. Therefore, it is necessary to undergo a TB skin test before starting therapy. Let the doctor know if you’ve been exposed to TB.
- Lymphoma: There may be an increased risk of lymphoma, a cancer of the lymph nodes. Remicade when used in combination with Imuran or 6MP may further increase this risk. There are a few cases of a hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma which has an aggressive disease course and is usually fatal. This risk is considered extremely rare with a limited number of cases worldwide.
Your doctor will discuss the risks and benefits before you start on Remicade. Let your doctor or nurse know about any new symptoms you develop while on Remicade.
When will I start to feel better?
Remicade works relatively quickly, and while some people can begin to see benefits in as little as 7 days, results may take up to a few months.
How long do I have to take this medication?
Remicade is used to induce remission and is also an effective maintenance therapy to keep symptoms and inflammation under control. This medication cannot be used as needed and must be continued once started. If you were to stop taking Remicade, your body can develop antibodies to it, thereby causing an allergic reaction and making the drug ineffective.
Can I drink alcohol while on this medication?
Yes, alcohol can be consumed in moderation.
What happens when I want to get pregnant?
This medication is relatively safe during pregnancy but family planning should be discussed with the doctor for more information.