Remicade is the trade name of the drug infliximab. It is recommended for treating moderate to severe symptoms of active rheumatoid arthritis.
While short-term use of the drug provides fast relief from inflammation, pain and stiffness of the joints, long-term use of Remicade helps to arrest progression of rheumatoid arthritis.
How Remicade Works
The immune system protects the body from viruses, bacteria and other foreign substances that are harmful for the body. However, sometimes the immune system becomes overactive, mistakenly attacking specific tissues of the body, causing autoimmune disease. Rheumatoid arthritis is one such autoimmune disease, which occurs when the immune cells attack the joints.
The immune system produces large amounts of proteins known as tumor necrosis factor (TNF) alpha that attacks the joints and triggers inflammation of the joints. Infliximab drugs such as Remicade suppress the activities of TNF alpha, thereby reducing inflammation and pain of the joints.
How to Use Remicade for Rheumatoid Arthritis
Remicade is administered intravenously to rheumatoid arthritis patients. It cannot be taken orally because they are easily destroyed by the digestive juices. For about two hours, Remicade intravenous infusion is given to rheumatoid arthritis patients. The entire process of administering the drug is monitored by a health professional. At the initial stage of the treatment with Remicade, the second and the third dose of the drug are administered after an interval of two to six weeks.
With improvement in the condition of your joints after the three starter doses, you may receive the intravenous injection once every eight weeks. However, the exact number of Remicade treatment that a rheumatoid arthritis patient is likely to receive each year depends on the severity of the symptoms and the health condition of the patient. Usually, six treatments per year are considered sufficient for keeping rheumatoid arthritis flare-ups under control.
When is Remicade Prescribed?
Remicade is prescribed only when a person is diagnosed with active rheumatoid arthritis and the symptoms have not responded to conventional disease modifying anti-inflammatory drugs. Remicade is also recommended for people who cannot tolerate other rheumatoid arthritis drugs.
People Who Should Not Use Remicade
Remicade is not recommended for people whose rheumatoid arthritis is not active. It is unsafe for people with active infections or with a history of tuberculosis. Pregnant and breastfeeding women should avoid Remicade. Remicade is unsuitable for people with heart diseases, lung fibrosis, multiple sclerosis and cancer.
Side Effects of Remicade
Remicade is an immunosuppressant drugs. It treats rheumatoid arthritis by weakening the immune system. Therefore, treatment with Remicade increases the risk of infections. It increases the risk of developing serious bacterial, viral and fungal infections, especially in elderly patients.
People on Remicade have higher risk of developing histoplasmosis and tuberculosis. Obstructing the activity of TNF alpha molecules increases the risk of certain rare cancers in adults and children. Other serious side effects that have been reported following Remicade use include liver damage, hepatitis B, lupus-like syndrome, blood problems, nervous system disorders and allergic reactions. Less serious side effects of the drug include nausea, stomach pain, headache, heartburn, back pain, runny nose, vaginal pain or itching, flushing and white patches in the mouth.