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Medications > Etanercept | Enbrel > Etanercept (Enbrel) – pictopamphlet

ETANERCEPT (Enbrel) [ee-TAN-er-sept]

How to use this medication

What is it

Some people with arthritis have too much TNF.  TNF is a protein found in the body that can cause pain and swelling in the joints. Etanercept is a biologic medicine that blocks TNF and helps the pain and swelling of arthritis.

Given by injection

Etanercept is given by injection once a week.  The normal dose is 50 mg every week. Sometimes the medicine is given twice a week.  Talk to your doctor.

Take it once a week

Etanercept is taken only once a week  You, a friend, or a family member can be taught how to give the injections.

Give it some time

Although some patients can feel better quite quickly in others it can take a little longer.  Keep taking your medication.

What you need to do

Stop if you have an infection

Etanercept can make it harder for you to fight off infections.  Stop taking etanercept and call your doctor if:

  • You develop a fever
  • You think you have an infection
  • You are given antibiotics to treat an infection

Make sure to get tuberculosis testing

All patients should have a tuberculosis skin test & chest
x-ray before starting etanercept.  Talk to your doctor.

Get occasional blood tests

It is important to occasionally have your blood tested while taking etanercept.  This is important to keep track of your arthritis and to make sure your blood counts are ok.

Side effects & important things to know

Injection site reaction

Etanercept can rarely cause a reaction (redness, pain, & itching) at the injection site.  Tell your doctor if these are severe.


Etanercept should be stopped before surgery.  It can be restarted once things have healed and there is no sign of infection.  If you are having surgery, talk to your doctor about when to stop the medicine.

Pregnancy & breastfeeding

Etanercept has not been studied in pregnancy.  Let your doctor know if you are planning to get pregnant or if you are breastfeeding.

Heart problems

Etanercept may make a condition called congestive heart failure worse.  Tell your doctor if you have congestive heart failure.

Other very rare side effects

Patients have very rarely developed conditions of the nervous system (multiple sclerosis) and the immune system (lupus) while taking medications like etanercept.


Etanercept has very rarely been associated with developing cancer.  Tell your doctor if you have had cancer in the past.

When should I call my doctor

Please call if you need to stop

  • If you feel sick and want to stop
  • If you are concerned about any side effects
  • If you want to or have already stopped the medicine

Other Reasons to Call your Doctor:

Fever or think you have an infection

If you are having surgery

If you become pregnant

If you plan to get any vaccinations

If you develop a rash

Other important information

Stopping Etanercept

You can simply stop taking etanercept. You do not need to wean off it.