Cimzia, the brand name of certolizumab pegol, is an injectable drug that reduces the symptoms of inflammatory conditions. It can be used as a treatment for several diseases including rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, plaque psoriasis, and non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis.
- How does Cimzia work?
- What are the side effects of Cimzia?
- How long does it take Cimzia to work?
- How do I inject Cimzia?
- How much does Cimzia cost?
- Does Cimzia cause weight gain?
- What should I avoid while taking Cimzia?
- What is the right Cimzia dosage for me?
1. How does Cimzia work?
Cimzia is a type of drug known as an anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) biologic. This means that Cimzia works by blocking TNF that is often responsible for causing or increasing inflammation. The increased production of this chemical is linked to an overactive immune system. The symptoms of each of the diseases Cimzia is approved to treat can also be linked to an overactive immune system.
2. What are the side effects of Cimzia?
Cimzia may potentially cause side effects ranging from mild to severe. The list below includes some of the most common side effects but is not a complete list. Mild side effects may go away after a few days or weeks of consistent medication-taking, but if they persist or worsen you should speak with your doctor.
Common side effects:
- Upper respiratory infections, like colds or the flu
- Urinary tract infection
- Joint pain
Serious side effects:
- Changes in heart rhythm
- Increased blood pressure
- Heart failure
- Rash on the cheeks or arms, which can be a sign of potentially-fatal conditions like Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) or toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN)
- Blood disorders
- Dizziness, numbness, or trouble seeing, which can be signs of nervous system problems
- Jaundice, which can be a sign of Hepatitis B reactivation
Shortness of breath
If you experience any of these serious side effects, you should speak with your doctor or seek immediate medical attention if it is an emergency.
In some rare cases, patients can experience allergic reactions. Seek emergency medical care if you experience any of the following symptoms after taking Cimzia.
- Skin rash
- Tightness in the throat or chest
- Difficulty talking or breathing
- Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat
3. How long does it take Cimzia to work?
Naturally, one of the top questions from patients prescribed Cimzia is “How long will it take to work?” As with most drugs, the answer will vary with every patient. However, many patients report improvement as little as one week after treatment. The majority of patients who see an improvement report that their symptoms had significantly decreased within twelve weeks.
4. How do I inject Cimzia?
Patients often wonder how to best inject Cimzia themselves. However, it is important to note that you should not attempt to give any injections without first speaking with your doctor. If your doctor has decided that at-home injections are the best route, then the following this video from John Hopkins Rheumatology provides helpful step by step instructions and demonstration:
5. How much does Cimzia cost?
As with most drugs, the cost of Cimzia is not always straightforward. It will largely depend on the location of the insurance of the patient. That said, the US cash price for two prefilled syringes of Cimzia, a typical one-month supply, is $4,630.35. For more accurate information on the cost of Cimzia, it's best to speak with your insurance provider.
6. Does Cimzia cause weight gain?
Patients often wonder if Cimzia will result in weight gain. Fortunately, in clinical studies, there has been no indication that Cimzia has any effect on body weight. In some rare cases, weight gain may occur as a result of a more serious side effect taking place, such as fluid retention (a symptom of heart failure.) Therefore, you should let your doctor know if you notice sudden weight gain.
7. What should I avoid while taking Cimzia?
One of the most important things to avoid while taking Cimzia is infection. The drug leaves the immune system weaker and more at risk. This means that if you do have an infection the body won’t be able to fight it off as effectively. This also means that you should not receive any vaccines without first speaking with your doctor. Your doctor can help you make sure that you do not receive any live or live, attenuated vaccines. Other vaccinations are generally fine to receive.
Due to Cimzia being an injection it is also important to take care when administering it. You should avoid injecting Cimzia into scars, stretch marks, and tender areas of skin.
8. What is the right Cimzia dosage for me?
The proper dosage of Cimzia will vary between patients. You must always follow your doctor’s instructions or the directions on the label. The following information contains typical doses of Cimzia. If these doses are not consistent with your prescription, follow your prescription. Usually, treatment begins with two starter doses of 200mg (400 mg total) to begin with, and again at week 2 and week 4, followed by a monthly dose of 400 mg every four weeks.
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