adalimumab, Humira

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

What is adalimumab, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

Adalimumab is an injectable protein(antibody) that blocks the inflammatory effects of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF alpha) in rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and Crohn 's disease of the intestine. Inflammation is the body's reaction to injury and is a necessary process for the repair of injury. TNF is a protein that the body produces when there is inflammation. TNF promotes inflammation and the signs of inflammation, which, in the case of arthritis, include fever as well as pain, tenderness, and swelling of joints. In the case of Crohn's disease, the signs of inflammation include fever, abdominal pain, and diarrhea. The unchecked inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis eventually leads to destruction of the joints. The inflammation in Crohn's disease can lead to strictures (narrowing) of the intestine or intestinal perforation. Adalimumab is a synthetic (man-made) antibody that binds to TNF in the body and thereby blocks the effects of TNF. As a result, inflammation and its consequences in the joints and intestine are reduced. In arthritis, the progressive destruction of the joints is slowed or prevented. Adalimumab is a disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARD) because it slows or prevents destruction of joints. Adalimumab was approved by the FDA in December 2002.

What brand names are available for adalimumab?

Humira

Is adalimumab available as a generic drug?

GENERIC AVAILABLE: No

Do I need a prescription for adalimumab?

Yes

What are the side effects of adalimumab?

The most common side effects are:

Adalimumab may cause swelling, redness, pain and itching at the site of injection. Adalimumab suppresses the immune system and is therefore associated with minor infections of the urinary tract, respiratory tract, and sinuses. Like other drugs that block TNF, use of adalimumab also has been associated with serious infections such as tuberculosis, sepsis (bacteria in the blood) and fungal infections. Individuals with active infections should not be treated with adalimumab. Adalimumab also may worsen the symptoms of diseases of the nervous system. In studies some patients who used adalimumab or other TNF blocking drugs developed cancer. Since patients with rheumatoid arthritis have a higher rate of cancers than the general population, the connection between cancer and use of adalimumab is unclear.

Other side effects of adalimumab include:

Adalimumab may increase the risk of reactivating hepatitis B virus in chronic carriers of the virus.

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