Cosentyx, the brand name of the generic drug secukinumab, is one of the most common drugs used to treat moderate to severe plaque psoriasis. It can also be used to treat psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. It is given by injection. This page answers some of the most asked questions by patients who have been prescribed Cosentyx and provides details on everything from interactions to best injection practices.
- What is Cosentyx (Secukinumab)?
- How Much does Cosentyx cost?
- What is Cosentyx (Secukinumab) used for?
- How do you inject Cosentyx?
- How does Cosentyx work?
- How long does Cosentyx take to work?
- What drugs are similar to Cosentyx?
- What drugs should I avoid while taking Cosentyx?
- What are the side effects of Cosentyx?
- Is it okay to drink alcohol while taking Cosentyx?
1. What is Cosentyx (Secukinumab)?
Cosentyx is one of the most prescribed medications used to treat moderate to severe plaque psoriasis. It is an immunosuppressant that aids in reducing the effects of inflammation-causing chemicals in the body. While its most common use is treating psoriasis, it can also be used to treat ankylosing spondylitis. It is often prescribed as a standalone treatment but can also be used in combination with methotrexate.
2. How Much does Cosentyx cost?
This is always a complicated question as the answer will vary greatly depending on the patient’s location and/or insurance provider. That said, if we look purely at the US cash price for Cosentyx the average is around $5,800 per 1 milliliter (mL). Since each mL contains 150 milligrams (mg) of Cosentyx, and a typical dose is between 150-300 mg, 1 mL typically equates to 3-6 doses as .
For treatment of plaque psoriasis, the first five weeks of Cosentyx consist of weekly doses. After that, injections are to take place monthly. For treatment of psoriatic arthritis or ankylosing spondylitis, the five weekly doses may or may not be prescribed. If not, injections are received monthly from the start of treatment.
3. What is Cosentyx (Secukinumab) used for?
Cosentyx was initially approved exclusively for the treatment of moderate to severe plaque psoriasis by the FDA in January 2015. A year later, it was approved to treat ankylosing spondylitis and active psoriatic arthritis as well. It has been prescribed to 160,000 patients in the US and it is still most commonly used to treat plaque psoriasis.
4. How do you inject Cosentyx?
Patients often wonder how to best inject Cosentyx 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 video from John Hopkins Rheumatology provides helpful step by step instructions and demonstration.
5. How does Cosentyx work?
Cosentyx is approved for treating three different conditions but each treatment works very similarly. By blocking the signaling protein (interleukin-17) which helps regulate the immune system, Cosentyx can reduce the body’s inflammatory response. In turn, this reduces symptoms related to psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and psoriasis.
6. How long does Cosentyx take to work?
If you or a loved one have recently started taking Cosentyx, you will certainly want to know when you can expect to see results. There is no one answer, as everyone will react to the drug slightly differently. However, around 60% of patients report a significant improvement within 16 weeks of use, and 80% reported some improvement within 12 weeks. Some patients even felt relief as soon as three weeks after beginning treatment. Fortunately, Cosentyx is typically taken only once per month, so this means that after three doses, most patients noticed an improvement.
7. What drugs are similar to Cosentyx?
- Enbrel (etanercept): Both Enbrel and Cosentyx are used to treat plaque psoriasis. They are both so commonly prescribed for the same condition that many patients ask, “Are Enbrel and Cosentyx the same thing?” The answer is no. They belong to two completely different drug classes. Enbrel is a tumor necrosis factor inhibitor or TNF inhibitor, and Cosentyx is a human interleukin-17a antagonist. Furthermore, they both come with their own unique side effects and drug interactions. For these reasons, despite their sometimes-similar use cases, they are very different drugs.
- Humira (adalimumab): Like Enbrel, Humira is also a TNF inhibitor and varies greatly from Cosentyx in terms of actual chemical makeup. That said, Humira and Cosentyx are two of the most prescribed drugs for treating moderate to severe plaque psoriasis. Both Humira and Cosentyx have the potential to interact with “live” vaccines although they both also have unique interactions.
- Taltz (ixekizumab): Cosentyx and Taltz are both human interleukin-17a antagonist drugs and are approved by the FDA for treating the same diseases. Of the three drugs most commonly compared to Cosentyx, Taltz is the most similar. Not only is it of the same drug class, but it also costs roughly the same amount (cash price in the US) and comes with many of the same potential side effects.
8. What drugs should I avoid while taking Cosentyx?
There are many potential drug interactions for Cosentyx. We have listed below some of the most common, but this is not a complete list and you should inform your doctor about any medications (including over-the-counter drugs and supplements) you are taking before you start receiving Cosentyx.
Potential severe interactions:
- Humira (adalimumab)
- Live vaccines
Potential mild to moderate interactions:
9. What are the side effects of Cosentyx?
Just like any other medicine, Cosentyx produces a range of possible side effects. We have listed below the most common side effects. Oftentimes they are nothing to be worried about, but you should check with your doctor immediately if you experience any of them as they can require medical attention.
- Sinus infections
- Nasal congestion or runny nose
- Oral herpes or rashes
- Ear or eye infection
- Body aches and cramps
- Difficulty breathing
- Unusually fast heartbeat or flutters
- Severe stomach pain
In rare cases, Cosentyx may cause inflammatory bowel disease, ulcerative colitis, or Crohn’s disease.
Allergic reaction – In some rare cases, patients can experience allergic reactions. Seek emergency medical care if you experience any of the following symptoms after taking Cosentyx.
- Skin rash
- Tightness in the throat or chest
- Difficulty talking or breathing
- Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat
This is not a complete list of the possible side effects of Cosentyx. For more information, you should speak to your doctor or read the patient information label.
10. Is it okay to drink alcohol while taking Cosentyx?
There is no known interaction between alcohol and Cosentyx. That said, it may reduce patients’ chances of responding to treatment for plaque psoriasis. There are also other drugs commonly prescribed for psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis that should not be taken with alcohol because, like alcohol, they are processed in the liver. One of the most common examples is methotrexate. In general, if you plan to drink while taking Cosentyx it is best to talk with your doctor and find out how much is safe for you.
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