Adalimumab is given as a shot under the skin (subcutaneous
Adalimumab reduces the effects of tumor
necrosis factor (TNF). TNF is produced in your body in times of
inflammation and attaches to the joint surface,
causing damage to soft tissues, cartilage, and bones. Adalimumab is a
disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD), which means it slows the
progression of conditions such as
rheumatoid arthritis and
ankylosing spondylitis. DMARDs are also called
immunosuppressive drugs or slow-acting antirheumatic drugs (SAARDs).
Adalimumab is used to treat adults who
have inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or ankylosing
spondylitis. Adalimumab may be used alone or in combination with other DMARDs
such as methotrexate.
Adalimumab appears to work rapidly
and is well tolerated.
A clinical trial of adalimumab used in combination with methotrexate found a
20% improvement in 67% of people who were given the medicine, with improvements
noticeable after 1 week of treatment.1 In another
study of adalimumab used alone, researchers report significant, rapid,
sustained reductions in disease activity and improved physical function,
including reduced swelling and pain.2
Ankylosing spondylitis. Studies show that
adalimumab decreases disease activity and symptoms, and it increases quality of
The most common side effect of TNF
antagonists, such as adalimumab, is an allergic reaction to the injection
(shot). If you have a reaction to the shot, it will happen right away, either
during the shot or within 1 to 2 hours after the shot. Your doctor may give you
medicines to prevent or stop the reaction.
Symptoms of a reaction
to the shot include:
Warnings about serious side effects of TNF antagonists have
been issued. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the drug’s
manufacturers have warned about:
See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug
Reference is not available in all systems.)
Adalimumab is significantly more
expensive than DMARDs such as methotrexate and sulfasalazine.
Adalimumab should not be used by pregnant women or women of childbearing
age who are not using reliable birth control. If you are going to take
adalimumab, you should be on some form of reliable birth control. If you plan
to become pregnant, check with your doctor before stopping birth control and
trying to become pregnant.
Complete the new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.
CitationsWeinblatt ME, et al. (2003). Adalimumab, a fully human
anti-tumor necrosis factor-a monoclonal antibody alpha for the treatment of
rheumatoid arthritis in patients taking concomitant methotrexate.
Arthritis and Rheumatism, 48(1): 35–45.Van de Putte LBA, et al. (2004). Efficacy and safety
of adalimumab as monotherapy in patients with rheumatoid arthritis for whom
previous disease modifying antirheumatic drug treatment has failed.
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases, 63(5): 508–516.Van er Heijde D, et al. (2006). Efficacy and safety of
adalimumab in patients with ankylosing spondylitis. Arthritis and Rheumatism, 54(7): 2136–2146. Davis JC, et al. (2007). Health-related quality of
life outcomes in patients with active ankylosing spondylitis treated with
adalimumab: Results from a randomized controlled study. Arthritis and Rheumatism, 57(6): 1050–1057.
June 11, 2010
Anne C. Poinier, MD - Internal Medicine & Stanford M. Shoor, MD - Rheumatology
How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.
To learn more visit Healthwise.org
© 1995-2012 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.