etanercept, Enbrel

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

Etanercept is an injectable drug that is used for treating rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis and plaque psoriasis. It works by blocking tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF alpha). Other drugs that block TNF alpha include adalimumab (Humira), certolizumab (Cimzia), golimumab (Simponi), and infliximab (Remicade).

TNF alpha is a protein that the body produces during when there is inflammation, the body's reaction to injury. TNF alpha promotes inflammation and its associated fever and signs (pain, tenderness, and swelling) in several inflammatory conditions including rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. Etanercept is a synthetic (man-made) protein that binds to TNF alpha. It thereby acts like a sponge to remove most of the TNF alpha from the joints and blood. This prevents TNF alpha from promoting inflammation and the fever, pain, tenderness, and swelling of joints in patients with rheumatoid or psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. Etanercept prevents the progressive destruction of the joints in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and the arthritis of psoriasis. The FDA approved etanercept in November 1998.

What brand names are available for etanercept?

Enbrel

Is etanercept available as a generic drug?

GENERIC AVAILABLE: No

Do I need a prescription for etanercept?

Yes

What are the side effects of etanercept?

The most common side effects are:

TNF alpha has an important role in the responses of the immune system to infections. Thus, blocking the action of TNF alpha with etanercept may worsen or increase the occurrence of infections such as tuberculosis, bacterial sepsis, invasive fungal infections (such as histoplasmosis), and other opportunistic infections (infections that occur primarily in patients with suppressed immune systems). Patients with serious infections should not receive etanercept, and etanercept should be discontinued if a patient develops a serious infection. Etanercept should be used with caution in patients prone to infection, such as those with advanced or poorly controlled diabetes. Children should receive their recommended immunizations before treatment with etanercept.

Some reported associated conditions may or may not be related to etanercept.

Other important side effects include:

For this reason, etanercept is not recommended for persons with preexisting disease of the central nervous system (brain and/or spinal cord) or for those with multiple sclerosis, myelitis, or optic neuritis. Additionally, rare cases of seriously low blood counts (pancytopenia) have been reported in patients using etanercept. New cases or worsening of congestive heart failure may occur.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 9/10/2015

Quick GuidePsoriasis Types, Images, Treatments

Psoriasis Types, Images, Treatments
FDA Logo

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

See more info: etanercept on RxList
RxList Logo

Need help identifying pills and medications?

Use the pill identifier tool on RxList.

Subscribe to MedicineNet's Skin Care & Conditions Newsletter

By clicking Submit, I agree to the MedicineNet's Terms & Conditions & Privacy Policy and understand that I may opt out of MedicineNet's subscriptions at any time.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors