This medication is used to treat certain types of arthritis (rheumatoid arthritis, arthritis of the spine, psoriatic arthritis), certain bowel diseases (Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis), and a certain severe skin disease (chronic plaque psoriasis). In these conditions, the body's defense system (immune system) attacks healthy tissues. Infliximab works by blocking the actions of a certain natural substance (tumor necrosis factor alpha) in the body. This helps to decrease swelling (inflammation) and weaken your immune system, which slows or stops the damage from the disease. This monograph is about the following infliximab products: infliximab, infliximab-abda, infliximab-axxq, and infliximab-dyyb.
Read the Medication Guide provided by your pharmacist before you start using infliximab and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist. This medication is given by injection into a vein over at least 2 hours as directed by your doctor. The dosage is based on your medical condition, weight, and response to treatment. After the first dose, this medication is usually given again after 2 weeks and 6 weeks, then every 8 weeks (or every 6 weeks for arthritis of the spine), as directed by your doctor. Symptoms of an infusion reaction that may occur during infliximab treatment include pain/swelling at the injection site, shortness of breath, flushing, chills, fever, headache, and rash. If you have any of these symptoms, your healthcare professional may need to adjust/stop your infusion and treat your symptoms. If you are using this medication at home, learn all preparation and usage instructions from your health care professional. Do not shake this medication. Before using, check this product visually for particles or discoloration. If either is present, do not use the liquid. Learn how to store and discard medical supplies safely. Your doctor may direct you to use other medications (to help prevent side effects) before using infliximab. Use those medications exactly as directed. Use this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, mark the days on the calendar when you need to receive the medication. Tell your doctor if your condition lasts or gets worse.
Before using infliximab, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or to other infliximab products; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details. Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: tuberculosis (previous infection or positive skin test), past/recent/current infections (such as cold sores, valley fever), heart disease (such as heart failure), blood/bone marrow disorder (such as leukopenia, thrombocytopenia), nervous system disorder (such as numbness/tingling, seizures, multiple sclerosis), cancer (such as breast cancer, skin cancer, lymphoma), a certain lung disorder (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease-COPD), liver disease (such as hepatitis B), light treatment for psoriasis (phototherapy). Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products). Infliximab can make you more likely to get infections or may worsen any current infections. Avoid contact with people who have infections that may spread to others (such as chickenpox, measles, flu). Call your doctor if you have been exposed to an infection or for more details. Do not have immunizations/vaccinations without the consent of your doctor. Avoid contact with people who have recently received live vaccines (such as flu vaccine inhaled through the nose). Older adults may be more sensitive to the side effects of this drug, especially risk for infections. During pregnancy, this medication should be used only when clearly needed. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor. Mothers who have used this medication during pregnancy should ask a doctor about immunizations/vaccinations for their newborn babies. It is unknown if this medication passes into breast milk. However, it is unlikely to harm a nursing infant. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval. Some products that may interact with this drug are: other drugs that weaken the immune system/increase the risk of infection (such as abatacept, anakinra), treatment with weakened bacteria/viruses (such as live vaccines, BCG for bladder cancer).
For the best possible benefit, it is important to receive each scheduled dose of this medication as directed. If you miss a dose, call your doctor or pharmacist right away to establish a new dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to catch up.
This medication can decrease your body's ability to fight an infection. This effect can lead to very serious (possibly fatal) infections (such as fungal infections, bacterial infections including tuberculosis). You should have a tuberculosis (TB) skin test before and during treatment with this medication. Also tell your doctor your medical history, especially of past/recent/current infections. You should also tell your doctor if you have lived or traveled in areas where certain fungal infections (such as coccidioidomycosis, histoplasmosis) are common or if you have been near someone with tuberculosis. Areas where these types of fungal infections are commonly found include the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys and the southwestern United States. See Side Effects section for symptoms of infections to watch out for, and get medical help right away if you have any of these symptoms. The immune system also helps prevent and control cancer. There is a very small risk (especially in children/teens/young adults) of developing cancer (such as lymphoma, skin cancer) due to this medication or due to your medical condition. A rare, mostly fatal cancer (hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma) has occurred in people receiving this medication along with certain other drugs (azathioprine or 6-mercaptopurine) to treat Crohn's disease or ulcerative colitis. Talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of treatment. Tell your doctor right away if you have symptoms such as unusual lumps/growths, swollen glands, swollen or painful abdomen, unexplained weight loss, unusual tiredness, loss of appetite, fever that doesn't go away, or night sweats.
See also Warning and How to Use section. Headache, stomach pain, or nausea may occur. If any of these effects last or get worse, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly. Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects. Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: joint/muscle pain, easy bruising/bleeding, seizures, confusion, muscle weakness, numbness/tingling of arms/legs, butterfly-shaped facial rash, pain/redness/swelling of arms or legs, new or worsening symptoms of heart failure (such as shortness of breath, swelling ankles/feet, unusual tiredness, unusual/sudden weight gain). Tell your doctor right away if you develop signs of infection while using this drug, such as: cough/sore throat that doesn't go away, fever, chills, night sweats, trouble breathing, painful/frequent urination, unusual vaginal discharge, white patches in the mouth (oral thrush). This drug may rarely cause serious (possibly fatal) liver disease. Get medical help right away if you have any symptoms of liver damage, such as: extreme tiredness, nausea/vomiting that doesn't stop, loss of appetite, stomach/abdominal pain, yellowing eyes/skin, dark urine. This medication may cause serious heart problems (such as heart attack) during the infusion and up to 24 hours after the start of the infusion. Get medical help right away if you have any symptoms of heart problems such as chest/jaw/left arm pain, shortness of breath, unusual sweating, lightheadedness, dizziness, fainting, vision changes, or fast/irregular/slow heartbeat. A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing, difficulty swallowing. This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist. In the US - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch. In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Consult the product instructions and your pharmacist for storage details. Keep all medications away from children and pets. Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company.
HOW TO USE THIS INFORMATION: This is a summary and does NOT have all possible information about this product. This information does not assure that this product is safe, effective, or appropriate for you. This information is not individual medical advice and does not substitute for the advice of your health care professional. Always ask your health care professional for complete information about this product and your specific health needs.