Side Effects Of Remicade (Infliximab)

This biologic therapy for IBD may be associated with certain side effects

Infusion Center
Remicade is given by infusion, which means that they're administered by a nurse or a physician via an IV. Image © Caiaimage / Sam Edwards / OJO+ / Getty Images

What Is Remicade?

Remicade (infliximab) was the first TNF-alpha (tumor necrosis factor alpha)-blocker to be approved to treat inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). TNF-alpha drugs are used to treat Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis because people with IBD have been shown to have more TNF-alpha in their bodies than people who do not have IBD.

Remicade is given by infusion in a doctor's office, infusion center, or hospital setting. An IV is used to give the drug. The infusion typically takes a few hours, during which time the patient is monitored for adverse reactions. In certain cases, an infusion may be given more rapidly.

While it's worthwhile to be aware of potential side effects, it's also important to understand that a drug does not cause every possible side effect in every person who receives it. This is a list of side effects that have been reported by people receiving Remicade, or by their physicians. People are prescribed this medication because it's important to prevent IBD from causing inflammation in the digestive tract. The reason for this is that ongoing inflammation can lead to serious, long-term complications. If there is a side effect during an infusion, talk to the nurses in the hospital or the infusion center right away. If there is a side effect that occurs later, such as at home, be sure to discuss it with the physician who prescribed Remicade.

FDA Black Box Warning

Remicade does have what the FDA calls a Black Box Warning. This means that at the top of the patient information packet, there's some special wording in bold that's surrounded by a black box. The reason why Remicade has this special designation is because everyone who takes this drug should be tested for tuberculosis (TB) before receiving it. Another section states that anyone who has a severe infection shouldn't take the drug, or should stop taking it if an infection develops. The last part discusses the potential risks of certain types of cancers, such as skin cancers and lymphoma. This all sounds scary, but the actual risk of cancer is thought to be very low.

What follows are some of the potential side effects of Remicade. Not all adverse effects occur in all people, and some of them are very rare. Concerns about the potential for side effects should be discussed with a gastroenterologist.

Always Notify Doctor

Let a physician know about the presence of any of these side effects.

Side effects that are more common:

  • abdominal pain
  • cough
  • dizziness
  • fainting
  • headache
  • muscle pain
  • nasal congestion
  • nausea
  • runny nose
  • shortness of breath
  • sneezing
  • sore throat
  • tightness in chest
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • vomiting
  • wheezing

Side effects that are less common:

  • back pain
  • bloody or cloudy urine
  • cracks in skin at the corners of mouth
  • diarrhea difficult or painful urination
  • frequent urge to urinate
  • high blood pressure
  • low blood pressure
  • pain
  • pain or tenderness around eyes and cheekbones
  • skin rash
  • soreness or irritation of mouth or tongue
  • soreness or redness around fingernails or toenails
  • vaginal burning or itching and discharge
  • white patches in mouth and/or on tongue

Side effects that are rare:

  • abscess (swollen, red, tender area of infection containing pus)
  • back or side pain
  • black, tarry stools
  • blood in urine or stools
  • bone or joint pain
  • constipation
  • falls
  • feeling of fullness
  • general feeling of illness
  • hernia (bulge of tissue through the wall of the abdomen)
  • infection
  • irregular or pounding heartbeat
  • pain in rectum
  • pain spreading from the abdomen to the left shoulder
  • pinpoint red spots on skin
  • stomach pain (severe)
  • swollen or painful glands
  • tendon injury
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • weight loss (unusual)
  • yellow skin and eyes

Side Effects That Should Be Reported Immediately

These side effects should be reported to a healthcare professional right away. They are too urgent to wait for the next scheduled appointment.

Side effects that are more common:

  • chest pain
  • chills
  • fever
  • flushing of face
  • hives
  • itching
  • troubled breathing

Other side effects not listed above may also occur in some patients. Any other potential effects not listed should also be reported to a doctor. This information is meant only as a guideline – always consult a physician or a pharmacist for complete information about prescription medications.

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