Humira

Generic Name: Adalimumab

  • What is this medication and its most common uses?

    Humira is a medicine used to reduce the signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, psoriatic arthritis (a condition involving joint pain and red, scaly skin), ankylosing spondylitis (arthritis of the spine), or Crohn's disease. Humira is also used to treat ulcerative colitis and chronic (long-term) plaque psoriasis. Humira is administered subcutaneously (just below the skin).

  • What should I know when beginning and continuing on this medication?

    How does this medication work?

    Rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, plaque psoriasis, ulcerative colitis, and Crohn's disease have been linked to an overproduction of a protein in the body that causes inflammation, leading to signs and symptoms of these conditions. Humira works by blocking the action of this protein, thereby helping to reduce the inflammation and improve symptoms.

    What are the beneficial effects of this medication and when should I begin to have results?

    What:

    Rheumatoid Arthritis and Psoriatic Arthritis: Humira has been shown to improve symptoms, such as tender or swollen joints, as well as improve a person's ability to dress themselves, eat, walk, reach, grip, and maintain other daily activities. Humira has also been shown to help prevent further joint damage.

    Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis: Studies have shown that disease flares are experienced less in children and adolescents receiving Humira.

    Ankylosing Spondylitis: Humira has been shown to improve symptoms of ankylosing spondylitis, such as back pain and inflammation.

    Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis: Humira may help get your condition under control (induce remission) and keep it under control (sustain remission) when certain other medicines have not worked well enough.

    Plaque Psoriasis: Studies have shown that most adults had 75% skin clearance of thick, scaly, and red skin.

    When:

    Rheumatoid Arthritis: Studies show that most people using Humira in combination with methotrexate for rheumatoid arthritis may experience a 20% improvement in signs and symptoms after 6 months of treatment.

    Psoriatic Arthritis and Ankylosing Spondylitis: Some people with psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis may see results as soon as 2 weeks after starting treatment with Humira.

    Plaque Psoriasis: Studies show that most people with plaque psoriasis who use Humira may be clear or almost clear of symptoms such as thick, scaly, and red skin in 4 months.

    How do I know it is working?

    You may notice an improvement in your symptoms after you start using Humira. This is a good indicator that the medicine is working. Your healthcare provider may ask you questions to assess how well your symptoms are controlled.

  • What are the possible side effects of this medication?

    The following is not a full list of side effects. Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, tell your healthcare provider as soon as possible. Only your healthcare provider can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking this medication.

    Humira is a medicine that affects your immune system. Humira can lower the ability of your immune system to fight infections. Serious infections have occurred in people using Humira. These infections include tuberculosis (TB) (a bacterial infection that affects the lungs) and infections caused by viruses, fungi, or bacteria that have spread throughout the body. Your healthcare provider should test you for TB before starting Humira and monitor you closely for signs and symptoms of TB during treatment with Humira. Do not start using Humira if you have any kind of infection without first talking to your healthcare provider. Tell your healthcare provider if you experience a cough that does not go away, low grade fever, weight loss, or loss of body fat and muscle while you are using or after you stop using Humira.

    Humira can increase the risk of developing lymphoma (a type of cancer involving cells of the immune system called lymphocytes) or other types of cancer, such as skin cancer. Tell your healthcare provider if you have unusual bumps or open sores that do not heal.

    More common side effects may include: upper respiratory infection, sinus pain and congestion, injection-site reactions (such as bruising, itching, rash, redness, or swelling), headache, rash.

    Less common side effects may include:

    Activation of hepatitis B virus (a virus that affects the liver) in people who carry the virus in their blood, with symptoms such as muscle aches, dark urine, little or no appetite, vomiting, clay-colored bowel movements, fever, chills, stomach discomfort, skin rash, extreme tiredness, or yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes.

    Allergic reactions, with symptoms such as hives, trouble breathing, or swelling of your face, eyes, lips, or mouth.

    Nervous system problems, with symptoms such as dizziness, numbness or tingling, problems with your vision, or weakness in your arms or legs.

    Decreased blood cell counts, including white blood cells (type of blood cells that help fight infections) and platelets (type of blood cells that form clots to help stop bleeding), with symptoms such as a fever that does not go away, unusual bruising or bleeding, or you look very pale.

    New heart failure or worsening of heart failure you already have, with symptoms such as shortness of breath, swelling of your ankles or feet, or sudden weight gain.

    Lupus-like syndrome, with symptoms such as chest discomfort or pain that does not go away, shortness of breath, joint pain, or a rash on your cheeks or arms that gets worse in the sun.

    Liver problems, with symptoms such as extreme tiredness, yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes, poor appetite, vomiting, or pain on the right side of your stomach.

    New psoriasis (immune disorder that affects the skin) or worsening of psoriasis you already have, with symptoms such as red scaly patches or raised bumps that are filled with pus.

  • Who should not take this medication?

    Do not use Humira if you are allergic to it or any of its ingredients.

  • What should I tell my healthcare provider before I take the first dose of this medication?

    Tell your healthcare provider about all prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal medications you are taking before beginning treatment with Humira. Also, talk to your healthcare provider about your complete medical history, especially if you think you have an infection or have symptoms of an infection (such as a fever; sweating; chills; muscle aches; cough; shortness of breath; blood in your phlegm; weight loss; warm, red, or painful skin or sores on your body; diarrhea or stomach pain; burning when you urinate or urinating more often than usual; or if you feel very tired), are being treated for an infection, or get a lot of infections that keep coming back; have diabetes, heart failure, numbness, tingling, or a disease that affects your nervous system (such as multiple sclerosis or Guillain-Barre syndrome); if you have recently received or are scheduled to receive any vaccines; are scheduled to have major surgery; or are allergic to rubber or latex.

    Also, tell your healthcare provider if you have TB or have been in close contact with someone with TB; were born in, lived in, or have traveled to certain parts of the country (such as the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys) or other countries where there is an increased chance for developing certain kinds of infections; or if you have a history of hepatitis B or cancer.

  • What is the usual dosage?

    The information below is based on the dosage guidelines your healthcare provider uses. Depending on your condition and medical history, your healthcare provider may prescribe a different regimen. Do not change the dosage or stop taking your medication without your healthcare provider's approval.

    Ankylosing Spondylitis, Psoriatic Arthritis, or Rheumatoid Arthritis

    Adults: The recommended dose is 40 milligrams (mg) every other week. If you have rheumatoid arthritis, your healthcare provider may increase your dose to 40 mg every week.

    Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

    Children 4-17 years: Your healthcare provider will prescribe the appropriate dose for your child based on his/her weight.

    Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis

    Adults: The recommended dose is 160 mg on Day 1 (given as four 40-mg injections in one day or as two 40-mg injections per day for two consecutive days), followed by 80 mg two weeks later (Day 15). Two weeks later (Day 29), begin a maintenance dose of 40 mg every other week.

    Plaque Psoriasis

    Adults: The recommended dose is 80 mg initially, followed by 40 mg every other week starting one week after the initial dose.

  • How should I take this medication?

    Use Humira exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Do not use extra doses or inject more often without first talking to your healthcare provider.

    If your healthcare provider decides that you or your caregiver is able to give the Humira injection at home, your healthcare provider will give you instructions on how to prepare and inject it.

    Do not use Humira if the liquid is cloudy, discolored, or has flakes or particles in it.

    If you are allergic to latex, do not touch the needle cover on the prefilled syringe, because it contains latex.

    Every time you inject Humira, rotate the injection sites. Do not inject Humira into areas where the skin is tender, bruised, red, hard, or has scars or stretch marks.

    Please review the instructions that came with your prescription on how to properly inject and dispose of Humira.

  • What should I avoid while taking this medication?

    Do not try to inject Humira yourself until your healthcare provider has shown you how to inject it appropriately. Do not receive live vaccines while you are using Humira. Talk to your healthcare provider about what vaccines to avoid.

  • What are the possible food and drug interactions associated with this medication?

    If Humira is used with certain other drugs, the effects of either could be increased, decreased, or altered. It is especially important to check with your healthcare provider before combining Humira with the following: 6-mercaptopurine, abatacept, anakinra, azathioprine, certolizumab pegol, cyclosporine, etanercept, golimumab, infliximab, live vaccines, rituximab, theophylline, or warfarin.

  • May I receive this medication if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

    The effects of Humira during pregnancy and breastfeeding are unknown. Humira can be found in your breast milk if you use it while breastfeeding. Tell your healthcare provider immediately if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

  • What should I do if I miss a dose of this medication?

    If you miss a dose of Humira, inject it as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the one you missed and return to your regular dosing schedule. Do not inject two doses at once.

  • How should I store this medication?

    Store in the refrigerator in the original container until it is used. Do not freeze. Protect the prefilled syringe from light.

Starting a GERD or Ulcer Drug?

Our nine-week newsletter series, written by a pharmacist, will help you learn about your medication.
Sign Up

Meet the Pharmacists

I'm Kristen Dore, PharmD. Welcome to PDR Health!

Check out my latest blog post on heartburn medication

Humira Related Drugs

Humira Related Conditions