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What is Remicade®?

By D. Jeffress
Updated May 17, 2024
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Remicade® is a medication used to treat a number of different autoimmune disorders and chronic inflammatory conditions. It is commonly prescribed for inflammatory bowel disorders, rheumatoid arthritis, and some types of persistent skin rashes. Remicade® is provided through intravenous injections, usually one every two to eight weeks. Most patients respond very well to the drug, but acute side effects and immune system depression from ongoing use are significant concerns. Doctors can perform regular blood tests and physical checkups throughout the course of treatment to minimize risks.

The active ingredient in Remicade®, infliximab, is a synthetic antibody. When it is injected into the bloodstream, the antibody seeks out a chemical called tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFa). TNFa is responsible for triggering many types of inflammatory reactions, but when Remicade® is present it cannot bind to receptor sites on blood cells. The drug also counters blood cells that have already been bound to TNFa to prevent them from causing inflammation.

Doctors generally prescribe Remicade® when other less powerful medications have been ineffective. Patients who have chronic or recurring problems related to ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease usually see improvements within their first month of receiving treatments. As inflammation subsides, symptoms of stomach upset, diarrhea, and nausea tend to get better very quickly. Autoimmune disorders, including plaque psoriasis and rheumatoid arthritis, also become more tolerable with regular doses of Remicade®.

Intravenous dosage amounts and frequencies are determined based on each patient's age, weight, and particular disorder. As a general guideline, doctors usually give three to five milligrams for every kilogram of a person's weight. Most people receive their first few doses at a hospital, clinic, or doctor's office, but home kits can be provided if patients are comfortable administering the drug themselves. Even if Remicade® is administered at home, patients are generally instructed to schedule regular checkups with their doctors to periodically monitor responses.

It is important for a patient and his or her doctor to understand the risks associated with taking Remicade®. Since the medication is an immunosuppressant, the body becomes more susceptible to infections with long-term use. Patients may experience respiratory and urinary tract infections, bacterial skin infections, and anemia. Side effects of the drug itself may include runny nose, stomach pain, and mild headaches. Some patients experience serious adverse reactions such as seizures, numbness in the extremities, chest pain, and loss of vision. Any severe side effects or infections should be addressed at an emergency room as soon as possible.

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