Infliximab

Infliximab is used to treat some types of autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and skin diseases such as chronic plaque psoriasis. Infliximab is also called Remicade.

What is infliximab?

Infliximab is used to treat some types of autoimmune conditions. These are conditions in which your body's defence (immune) system attacks healthy tissues, such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritisankylosing spondylitis, bowel diseases such as Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and skin diseases such as chronic plaque psoriasis.

Infliximab is usually used when other treatments have not worked well. It is a type of medicine called a TNF inhibitor. It works by blocking natural inflammatory substances in your body called tumour necrosis factor-alpha (TNFa). This helps to reduce swelling (inflammation) and weaken your immune system, thereby slowing or stopping the damage from the disease. Read more about TNF inhibitors

How is infliximab given?

Infliximab is given by slow injection into a vein in your arm (called intravenous infusion), by a doctor or nurse, every 2 to 8 weeks. It usually takes about 2 hours for you to receive your entire dose of infliximab. 

Infliximab may cause serious allergic reactions. Some people have reactions a few hours or days afterwards. A doctor or nurse will monitor you during the infusion and for 1 hour afterwards to be sure you are not having a serious reaction to the medicine. You may be given other medicines to treat reactions to infliximab or prevent them from happening again if you had reactions to infliximab before.

Things to consider while you are having infliximab

  • Infliximab weakens your body’s defence (immune) system, so you are more likely to pick up infections. It is important to avoid anyone who has chickenpox or shingles.
  • You should avoid becoming pregnant while you are having infliximab and for at least 6 months after your last dose. Discuss with your healthcare provider which types of contraception are suitable for you and your partner.
  • Some vaccines should not be taken if you are on infliximab. Always check with your doctor or pharmacist first. It is safe for you to have the annual flu vaccine.
  • Infliximab may interact with a few medicines and herbal supplements, so check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting Infliximab or before starting any new medicines, including those you may buy over the counter.

What are the side effects of infliximab?

Like all medicines, infliximab can cause side effects, although not everyone gets them. Often side effects improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine.

Side effects What should I do?
  • During the infusion you may experience low blood pressure, where you feel faint or dizzy.
  • Tell your nurse. 
  • Flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, shivering, a runny nose or sneezing
  • Headache
  • You may experience these symptoms during the infusion or any time up to 2 weeks after the infusion.
  • Before the infusion you will be prescribed medicine to reduce these effects.
  • Contact your doctor if troublesome.  
  • Allergic reaction such as a skin rash, itching, swelling of your lips, face and mouth or difficulty breathing
  • Tell your doctor immediately or phone Healthline on 0800 611 116.
  • Signs of an infections such as fever, cough, sore throat, diarrhoea (runny poo) or generally feeling weak and unwell
  • Tell your doctor immediately or phone Healthline on 0800 611 116.
Did you know that you can report a side effect to a medicine to CARM (Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring)? Report a side effect to a product

Learn more

Remicade Consumer Information Sheets, Medsafe, NZ
Infliximab Australian Rheumatology Association  
Infliximab RheumInfo

References

  1. Biologic medicines for the treatment of inflammatory conditions: What does primary care need to know? BPAC, NZ, 2013
  2. Infliximab NZ Formulary
Credits: Sandra Ponen, Pharmacist. Reviewed By: Angela Lambie, Pharmacist, Auckland Last reviewed: 03 May 2021