Frequently Asked Questions
- Which doctors most commonly treat ankylosing spondylitis (AS)?
- Is REMICADE® right for me?
- How soon can I feel relief?
- How is REMICADE® administered and how often do I take it?
- How important is exercising to living with AS?
- What should I know about serious side effects?
- What if I'm concerned about my health after taking REMICADE®?
Which doctors most commonly treat ankylosing spondylitis (AS)?
AS is most often treated by rheumatologists.
Is REMICADE® right for me?
REMICADE® can lower your ability to fight infections. Serious and sometimes fatal events can occur. There have been reports of serious infections including tuberculosis (TB) and infections caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses that have spread throughout the body. Lymphoma, including a fatal kind called hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma, and other cancers have been reported in children and adults taking REMICADE®. Some people with heart failure should not take REMICADE®. Other serious side effects include hepatitis B, liver injury, blood problems, allergic reactions, nervous system problems, or lupus-like syndrome. To learn more about these and other risks, please read the Important Safety Information and the Medication Guide, and talk with your doctor.
How soon can I feel relief?
The good news is that, with REMICADE®, you could feel relief of your AS symptoms in as few as 2 weeks. Individual results may vary.
How is REMICADE® administered and how often do I take it?
REMICADE® is administered as a 2-hour IV infusion by your healthcare professional, so someone will always be close by to monitor you for side effects, both while you receive treatment — and for a period of time afterward. Your doctor will carefully calculate and customize the right dose based on your body weight. After the first 3 doses, you will remain on maintenance therapy, which is just once every 6 weeks. That could be as few as 9 times a year, after the 3 starter doses. Because there is no cure for AS, your healthcare provider will determine how long you need to stay on treatment.
How important is exercising to living with AS?
Along with maintaining good posture, exercise is an important part of managing your condition. Finding the time to work out is important to living with AS. Even if you can only set aside 10 minutes a day, you're still doing your body a big favor. Talk to your doctor to establish an exercise program that is right for you.
What should I know about serious side effects?
REMICADE® can lower your ability to fight infections. Serious and sometimes fatal events can occur. There have been reports of serious infections including tuberculosis (TB) and infections caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses that have spread throughout the body. Lymphoma, including a fatal kind called hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma, and other cancers have been reported in children and adults taking REMICADE®. Some people with heart failure should not take REMICADE®. Other serious side effects include hepatitis B, liver injury, blood problems, allergic reactions, nervous system problems, or lupus-like syndrome. To learn more about these and other risks, please read the Important Safety Information and the Medication Guide, and talk with your doctor. The most common side effects of REMICADE® include: respiratory infections, headache, rash, coughing, and stomach pain.
What if I'm concerned about my health after taking REMICADE®?
You should discuss any questions or concerns about your health with your doctor. Please read the Important Safety Information and the Medication Guide for REMICADE® that includes the most common and the most serious side effects, related symptoms, and when to talk to your doctor or seek medical care. If you seek medical care from a healthcare professional other than the doctor who prescribed REMICADE®, it is important to let him or her know about your medical history and any current medications, including REMICADE®.
Only your doctor can recommend a course of treatment after checking your health condition. REMICADE® (infliximab) can cause serious side effects such as lowering your ability to fight infections. Some patients, especially those 65 years and older, have had serious infections caused by viruses, fungi or bacteria that have spread throughout the body, including tuberculosis (TB) and histoplasmosis. Some of these infections have been fatal. Your doctor should monitor you closely for signs and symptoms of TB during treatment with REMICADE®.
Unusual cancers have been reported in children and teenage patients taking TNF-blocker medicines. Hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma, a rare form of fatal lymphoma, has occurred mostly in teenage or young adult males with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis who were taking REMICADE® and azathioprine or 6-mercaptopurine. For children and adults taking TNF blockers, including REMICADE®, the chances of getting lymphoma or other cancers may increase.
You should discuss any concerns about your health and medical care with your doctor.
What should I tell my doctor before I take REMICADE®?
You should let your doctor know if you have or ever had any of the following:
- Tuberculosis (TB) or have been near someone who has TB. Your doctor will check you for TB with a skin test. If you have latent (inactive) TB, you will begin TB treatment before you start REMICADE®.
- Lived in a region where certain fungal infections like histoplasmosis or coccidioidomycosis are common.
- Infections that keep coming back, have diabetes or an immune system problem.
- Any type of cancer or a risk factor for developing cancer, for example, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or had phototherapy for psoriasis.
- Heart failure or any heart condition. Many people with heart failure should not take REMICADE®.
- Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection or think you may be a carrier of HBV. Your doctor will test you for HBV.
- Nervous system disorders (like multiple sclerosis or Guillain-Barré syndrome).
Also tell your doctor if you:
- Use the medicines Kineret (anakinra), Orencia (abatacept) or Actemra (tocilizumab) or other medicines called biologics used to treat the same problems as REMICADE®.
- Are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, are breast-feeding, or have a baby and were using REMICADE® during your pregnancy. Tell your baby’s doctor about your REMICADE® use before the baby receives any vaccine because of an increased risk of infection for up to 6 months after your last dose of REMICADE® you received during your pregnancy.
- Recently received or are scheduled to receive a vaccine. Adults and children taking REMICADE® should not receive live vaccines or treatment with a weakened bacteria (such as BCG for bladder cancer) while taking REMICADE®.
What should I watch for and talk to my doctor about before or while taking REMICADE®?
The following serious (sometimes fatal) side effects have been reported in people taking REMICADE®.
You should tell your doctor right away if you have any of the signs listed below:
- Infections (like TB, blood infections, pneumonia)—fever, tiredness, cough, flu, or warm, red or painful skin or any open sores. REMICADE® can make you more likely to get an infection or make any infection that you have worse.
- Lymphoma, or any other cancers in adults and children.
- Skin cancer—any changes in or growths on your skin.
- Heart failure—new or worsening symptoms, such as shortness of breath, swelling of your ankles or feet, or sudden weight gain.
- Reactivation of HBV—feeling unwell, poor appetite, tiredness, fever, skin rash and/or joint pain.
- Liver injury—jaundice (yellow skin and eyes), dark brown urine, right-sided abdominal pain, fever, or severe tiredness.
- Blood disorders—fever that doesn’t go away, bruising, bleeding or severe paleness.
- Nervous system disorders—numbness, weakness, tingling, changes in your vision or seizures.
- Allergic reactions during or after the infusion—hives, difficulty breathing, chest pain, high or low blood pressure, swelling of face and hands, and fever or chills.
- Lupus-like syndrome—chest discomfort or pain that does not go away, shortness of breath, joint pain, rash on the cheeks or arms that gets worse in the sun. The more common side effects with REMICADE® are respiratory infections (that may include sinus infections and sore throat), headache, rash, coughing and stomach pain.
- Psoriasis—new or worsening psoriasis such as red scaly patches or raised bumps on the skin that are filled with pus.
Please read the accompanying Medication Guide for REMICADE® and talk with your doctor. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA.Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.