ustekinumab, Stelara

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

Ustekinumab is an injectable biologic drug that suppresses the immune system and is used for the treatment of psoriasis. It is an antibody that binds to interleukin (IL)-12 and IL-23, two chemicals produced by cells in the body that stimulate immune reactions. Scientists believe that psoriasis is caused by an increase in the production of T-lymphocytes in response to the attachment of a stimulant, such as interleukin, to the lymphocyte. Stimulated T-lymphocytes cause skin cells to grow rapidly, and the rapid growth of the skin cells produces the skin plaques of psoriasis. Ustekinumab reduces symptoms of psoriasis (inflammation and excessive production of skin cells) by attaching to IL-12 and IL-23, preventing them from binding and activating T-lymphocytes. In scientific studies, 59% to 73% of patients received an assessment of cleared or minimal psoriasis after 12 weeks of treatment. Ustekinumab was approved by the FDA in September 2009.

What brand names are available for ustekinumab?


Is ustekinumab available as a generic drug?


Do I need a prescription for ustekinumab?


What are the side effects of ustekinumab?

The most common side effects of ustekinumab are:

Ustekinumab may reduce the ability the immune system to fight infections, increasing the risk of infections such as tuberculosis (TB), and infections caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses. Ustekinumab also may increase the risk of certain types of cancer and cause posterior leukoencephalopathy syndrome (RPLS). RPLS is a rare condition that affects the brain and can cause death. The cause is unknown but if detected early and treated, most people recover. Symptoms may include headache, seizures, confusion, and vision problems.

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Psoriasis Types, Images, Treatments
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