certolizumab, Cimzia

  • 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 certolizumab, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

Certolizumab is an injectable synthetic (man-made) protein antibody that binds to tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα) in the body and blocks the effects of TNFα in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and Crohn's disease. Adalimumab (Humira) and etanercept (Enbrel) are two other injectable drugs that block TNFα. 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. Certolizumab 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. The FDA approved Certolizumab in April 2008.

What brand names are available for certolizumab?

Cimzia

Is certolizumab available as a generic drug?

GENERIC AVAILABLE: No

Do I need a prescription for certolizumab?

Yes

What are the side effects of certolizumab?

The most common adverse effects in clinical studies were:

Like other drugs that block TNFα, use of certolizumab 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 certolizumab. Certolizumab may worsen or cause new diseases of the nervous system. Certolizumab also may cause or worsen congestive heart failure. In studies, some patients who used certolizumab or other TNFα blocking drugs developed cancer. Since patients with Crohn's disease have a higher risk of cancers than the general population, the connection between cancer and use of certolizumab is unclear. Other side effects of certolizumab include hypersensitivity (allergic) reactions (including anaphylaxis) and reduced levels in the blood of platelets and red blood cells (aplastic anemia). Certolizumab may increase the risk of reactivating hepatitis B virus in chronic carriers of the virus.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/21/2015

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