What is Ustekinumab?

Eric Stolze

Ustekinumab is a prescription drug that is sold under the Stelara® brand name. This drug is an immunosuppressant medication that is typically used to reduce the effects of inflammatory substances in the body. A common use for this drug is the treatment of the silvery raised skin flaking that can occur with severe psoriasis. Some individuals may experience side effects from this drug, and some unwanted interactions are possible when this drug is used in conjunction with other medications. Patients usually receive this medication in an injection under the skin.

Swollen glands, chills fever and other signs of infection may result from ustekinumab use.
Swollen glands, chills fever and other signs of infection may result from ustekinumab use.

Some patients may develop an allergic reaction to ustekinumab that can cause skin hives or difficulties with breathing. Other possible symptoms of an allergic reaction to this drug include swelling of the tongue, lips or throat as well as swelling of the face. In most cases, patients with allergic reactions are advised to stop using the medication and seek prompt medical assistance.

Side effects from the use of ustekinumab may occur in some cases and may include pain and tenderness in various locations of the body. A rapid heart rate, shallow or rapid breathing and fainting have occurred in some instances with this medication. Some individuals may notice signs of an infection while they take this drug, such as chills, a fever or a sore throat, as well as unusual weakness or swollen glands. Pain and burning during urination may occur, and blood may be visible in a patient’s urine in some cases. Some people have noticed stomach pain and changes in their bowel habits while they used this drug.

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Drug interactions can occur in some cases when patients use ustekinumab concurrently with other drugs. In most cases, patients should notify their physicians of all the drugs they take in order to guard against the possibility of unwanted interactions. Some drugs that may cause unwanted effects with ustekinumab include blood thinners such as warfarin and drugs that weaken a patient’s immune system such as steroids or cancer medications. Seizure drugs and heart medications can also contribute to drug interactions.

Individuals who use ustekinumab may be more susceptible to infections, and patients should generally try to avoid contact with people who have an active infection. Patients who receive a live vaccine can also be more prone to developing an infection if they are taking this medication. Doctors may provide special monitoring or make dosage adjustments for patients who have a history of tuberculosis, high blood pressure or a history of recurring infections. Patients who receive light therapy may also receive special monitoring while they use this drug.

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