It binds to tumor necrosis factor alpha, or TNFα, a cell signaling protein involved in inflammation. Long-term inflammation of joints in the spine is a hallmark of ankylosing spondylitis, which is a type of arthritis.
Cimzia has a protein component that blocks TNF. Since the component is small and light, the body would normally clear it quickly. But UCB added a substance that keeps the protein component in the body longer. This means that Cimzia has to be injected only once every two weeks.
How Cimzia works
It reduces inflammation by blocking the activity of TNF. High levels of TNF are hallmarks of arthritis and similar conditions. Excess TNF leads to inflammation, swelling, tenderness, pain, and damage to joints and bones.
Clinical trials have shown that in most patients Cimzia works quickly to reduce joint swelling and tenderness, pain, and fatigue, and to improve physical function. Very few patients taking Cimzia experience injection-site pain or reactions.
Cimzia is available as a free-dried powder or a solution in a prefilled syringe. The dose that doctors recommend for AS is a 200-mg injection twice a week at weeks 0, 2, and 4, followed by 200 mg every two weeks or 400 mg every four weeks.
The injections should not be given in areas where the skin is tender, bruised, red, or hard. And the sites of injections should be rotated. When a 400-mg dose is needed it should consist of two injections of 200 mg each at separate sites in the thigh or abdomen.
Warnings and precautions
Some people who use Cimzia can develop a rare, fast-growing type of lymphoma. This cancer affects the liver, spleen, and bone marrow, and can be fatal.
Cimzia can lower the immune system’s ability to fight infections. This means it should not be used if a patient has symptoms of an infection, such as fever, chills, cough, diarrhea, or painful urination.
Doctors also should not administer Cimzia if a patient has tuberculosis, hepatitis B, or diabetes, a weak immune system, or is allergic to any of its ingredients. Researchers do not know whether Cimzia is safe for a pregnant woman to take.
Cimzia can cause serious side effects, including heart failure, allergic reactions, hepatitis B reactivation, nervous system problems, blood problems, and immune system reactions. The most common side effects include upper respiratory infections, rash, and urinary tract infections.
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