What is Orencia Uses, warnings & interactions
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Orencia (abatacept) is an injectable biologic medication that is manufactured by Bristol-Myers Squibb. It was approved by the FDA in 2005 to treat certain types of arthritis in adults, including moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis and psoriatic arthritis. It is also used to treat a type of arthritis that occurs in children. Orencia can be given as an injection under your skin at home or as an intravenous infusion by your doctor. If your doctor has prescribed Orencia, you may want to know more about what it is and how it works. Here we’ll explain what Orencia is used for, how it works, its side effects, and more.
What is Orencia used for?
Orencia is a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) that is approved to:
- Treat adult patients with active rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
- Treat pediatric patients 2 years of age and older with polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (pJIA)
- Treat adult patients with active psoriatic arthritis (PsA)
- Prevent graft versus host disease (aGVHD) when taken along with a calcineurin inhibitor and methotrexate in adult and pediatric patients 2 years of age and older who are receiving a hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT)
How does Orencia work?
Orencia is a DMARD that works by attaching to certain proteins to stop T cells from working properly. T cells are a type of immune system cell that helps your body to fight off infections. In patients with autoimmune disorders, these immune system cells attack healthy cells, tissues, and organs. By reducing the activity of T cells, Orencia reduces the inflammation, pain, swelling, and joint damage that is associated with RA, PsA, and pJIA. It also helps lower your risk of acute graft-versus-host disease following a stem cell transplant.
What are the most commonly prescribed doses of Orencia?
- 250mg in a single-dose vial for intravenous infusion
- 50mg/0.4ml, 87.5mg/0.7ml, and 125mg/ml in a single-dose prefilled syringe
- 125mg/mL in a single-dose prefilled ClickJect autoinjector
Before taking Orencia
Before taking Orencia, tell your healthcare provider about your medical conditions, including:
- Active infection
- Viral hepatitis
- Tuberculosis (TB)
- History of Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) or Cytomegalovirus (CMV)
- Scheduled surgery
- Recent vaccination or have a scheduled vaccination
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Personal or family history of skin cancer
- Are pregnant, plan on becoming pregnant, or are breastfeeding
How to take Orencia
- Read the Patient Information, Instructions for Use, and Medication Guide that comes with Orencia.
- If you are being treated for RA, pJIA, or PsA, you may receive this medication from your doctor as an intravenous infusion. The infusion typically takes around 30 minutes.
- If you are being treated for RA, pJIA, or PsA, you may also be given this medication as a subcutaneous injection (under the skin) at home by yourself or a caregiver. Your doctor will decide whether you use an Orencia prefilled syringe or prefilled ClickJect autoinjector to administer your dose at home. You or your caregiver will be shown the proper way to prepare and inject this medication before giving a dose.
- If you are using Orencia to prevent graft-versus-host disease, you will receive it from your doctor as a 60-minute intravenous infusion on the day before your stem cell transplant. You will then be given an infusion on Days 5, 14, and 28 after your transplant. You may also receive antiviral medications to help prevent complications such as Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) and Cytomegalovirus (CMV) infections.
You should not use Orencia if you have a known allergy to abatacept or any inactive ingredients in its formulation.
- Serious infections have been reported with the use of Orencia. You should notify your doctor if you develop signs of infection as they may need to stop this medication.
- You should have a skin test to screen for latent tuberculosis (TB) before starting this medication. Notify your doctor if you have any symptoms of TB, including a cough that doesn’t go away, weight loss, fever, or night sweats.
- You should update your vaccinations before beginning Orencia. Live vaccines should not be given while on this medication or within 3 months of stopping it.
- Patients with COPD may develop exacerbations and more frequent respiratory adverse events while on Orencia.
- Patients being treated for graft-versus-host disease may reactivate cytomegalovirus (CMV) or Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV).
- Orencia IV contains maltose, which can affect blood sugar readings with certain blood glucose monitors.
What drugs should not be taken with Orencia?
When Orencia is taken with other medications, it may change how they work or increase the frequency and severity of side effects. You should ask your doctor if any of the prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and herbal supplements you take may cause drug interactions with Orencia, including:
- TNF antagonists such as Remicade (infliximab) or other immunosuppressants as they can increase the risk of serious infections
- Live vaccines
What are some possible side effects of Orencia?
The most common side effects of Orencia include:
- Injection site reactions
- Back pain
- High blood pressure
- Sore throat
Orencia can sometimes cause more serious side effects, including:
- Severe, life-threatening allergic reactions (hives, swelling of your face or throat, and trouble breathing)
- Increased risk of serious infections, including TB, sepsis, and pneumonia
- Reactivation of hepatitis B
- Increased risk of malignancies, including lung and skin cancer
- Respiratory problems
Contact your healthcare professional for medical advice about any possible adverse reactions you experience while taking Orencia. You can report your adverse reactions to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or www.fda.gov/medwatch.
Your doctor can prescribe other medications if Orencia is not right for you. Some alternative options include:
Can you take Orencia while you are pregnant or breastfeeding?
There are no well-controlled studies of Orencia use in pregnant women. There is a pregnancy exposure registry that monitors outcomes in women who take Orencia during pregnancy. You or your doctor can enroll by calling 1-877-311-8972. There is no information on whether Orencia is found in breast milk or the effects it may have on a breastfed infant. Orencia was found in the milk of lactating rats given this medication. You should always discuss the risks and benefits of any medication with your healthcare provider if you are pregnant, plan on becoming pregnant, or are breastfeeding.
What is the difference between Orencia and methotrexate?
Orencia and methotrexate are both DMARDs that are used to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA). They work at different receptors and can be taken together to treat symptoms of RA. Orencia is not typically a first-line medication but is usually added to your treatment if you stop responding to methotrexate or cannot tolerate it due to adverse reactions.
How long does it take for Orencia to work?
Orencia is not a medication that works quickly. You may have to take it consistently for 3 to 6 months before you start to see an improvement in symptoms. As with all medications, results will vary.
Is Orencia the same as Humira?
Humira and Orencia are both biologics but work differently to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Humira belongs to a drug class called TNF inhibitors, while Orencia reduces the activity of certain immune cells called T cells. A clinical trial that compared these 2 medications showed they have similar effectiveness in the reduction of symptoms. They also had a similar overall rate of side effects.
How should you store Orencia prefilled syringes or ClickJect autoinjector?
Store Orencia in its original package in the refrigerator between 36°F to 46°F (2°C to 8°C). You should remove one prefilled syringe or autoinjector from the refrigerator and wait 30 minutes to allow it to reach room temperature before administering it.
How much does Orencia cost?
Currently, there is no generic Orencia available on the market. The average cost of 4 prefilled syringes of Orencia 125mg/1ml is almost $6,000. However, you can save on brand-name drugs like Orencia through NiceRx if eligible for assistance.
The content on this website is intended for information purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice. The information on this website should not be relied upon and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always speak to your doctor regarding the risks and benefits of any treatment.