Infliximab

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Brand Name: Remicade

Why is this drug prescribed?
Infliximab is used to treat moderate to severe Crohn’s disease and Crohn’s disease with fistulas if the patient has had an inadequate response to corticosteroids or immunosuppressants. It is also given for treatment of moderate to severe ulcerative colitis if the patient has had an inadequate response to corticosteroids or immunosuppressants.

How is this drug taken?
Infliximab must be prepared and administered by a health care professional. An initial course of one to three infusions will be given over the space of six to eight weeks. Depending on the response, maintenance infusions may be given every six to 12 weeks.

Infliximab must be administered into a vein in the arm. This drug must be administered over a period of at least 2 hours, and the patient must be monitored for 1 to 2 hours after the infusion is complete, with access to resuscitation measures. There have been reports of safe and effective 1 hour infusions but this type of shorter infusion is not available at all infusion clinics or centres.

What special precautions should I follow?
Before taking this medication, talk to your doctor and pharmacist about:

Allergies Pregnancy/Breastfeeding
  • if you are allergic to infliximab or any other drugs
  • Infliximab should not be taken if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment or for 6 months after completing treatment. Breastfeeding should be stopped during treatment and for 6 months after completing treatment
Other medications Medical conditions
  • what prescription and non-prescription medications you are taking (including vitamins and herbal products)
  • any current or past medical conditions you have experienced (especially tuberculosis (TB), congestive heart failure (CHF) or any active infection)


What are the side effects of this medication?

Although side effects from infliximab are uncommon, they can occur. Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

Most common:
  • abdominal pain
  • cough
  • dizziness or unusual tiredness/weakness
  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • nasal congestion or runny nose
  • nausea and or vomiting
  • wheezing or shortness of breath
  • sore throat
Rare:
  • skin rash
  • abscess (swollen, red, tender area of infection containing pus)
  • infection
  • bone or joint pain
  • infection
  • chest pain
  • abdominal pain
  • diarrhea
  • high blood pressure

Contact your doctor and nurse immediately if any of the following occur:

  • chest pain
  • chills and/or fever
  • flushing of the face
  • itching and/or hives
  • troubled breathing


These side effects typically occur during the infusion – this type of reaction usually responds well to slowing the infusion and treatment with acetamenophin (Tylenol) and an antihistamine.

How should this medication be stored?
This medication must be stored in the refrigerator and must not be frozen. Keep this medication out of reach and sight of children.

Special Instructions

  • before receiving this medication all patients should be tested for latent tuberculosis infection (a TB skin test and possibly a chest x-ray)
  • if a patient receiving infliximab treatment is scheduled to undergo surgery, appropriate precautions must be taken
  • do not receive any vaccines while taking this medication
  • Infliximab is an expensive treatment. Some insurance companies will cover part or all of the cost of the drug (check with your insurance company first). If you do not have private drug insurance coverage, ask your doctor for alternative coverage options
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