How Cimzia Works

In some people with arthritis, a signalling protein (cytokine) called Tumour Necrosis Factor (TNF) is present in the blood and joints in excessive amounts where it increases inflammation (pain and swelling).

Cimzia is another type of protein called a monoclonal antibody that works as a TNF blocker. It binds to TNF and prevents it from working. Normally TNF would bind to TNF receptors in the body and cause inflammation.

In blocking TNF, Cimzia suppresses the body’s immune system. Though this suppression can make it slightly harder for patients to fight off infections, it also helps to stabilize an overactive immune system and control arthritis.

Side Effects of Cimzia

MORE COMMON side-effects include:

  • Mild skin reaction at the injection site (itchiness, redness, and mild swelling).
  • Nausea, abdominal pain
  • Headache
  • Rash
  • Upper respiratory tract infections (such as sinusitis).

RARE side-effects include:

  • Infection – There is an increased risk of serious infections associated with the use of Certolizumab. Any infections or fevers should be taken very seriously and reviewed by a doctor.
  • Nervous System – There have been rare reports of some patients developing disorders that affect the nervous system (multiple sclerosis, seizures, or inflammation of the nerves of the eye) while taking medications like Certolizumab. Fortunately, these reports are exceedingly rare.
  • Heart – Patients should inform their doctor if they have congestive heart failure as Certolizumab may make it worse.
  • Blood Counts – Certolizumab can cause a drop in the numbers of white blood cells (which are needed to fight infection) or red blood cells (which carry oxygen). This is very rare and it is unusual for this to be a serious problem.
  • Malignancy – Certolizumab may be associated with a very small increased risk of developing cancer (<1%).

How to minimize the side-effects of Cimzia:

  • Take Cimzia as prescribed by a doctor

Who Should NOT Take Cimzia

Patients who should NOT be taking Cimzia (certolizumab) include:

  • Patients who have had a previous serious allergic reaction to Cimzia
  • Possibly patients who have cancer or have had a past history of certain cancers
  • Patients who have severe or uncontrolled congestive heart failure
  • Patients who have multiple sclerosis
  • Patients with active infections (such as tuberculosis)

When to Call a Doctor

People taking Cimzia should call their doctor if they feel sick and want to stop, or if they are concerned about any side effects.

Other reasons to call a doctor while taking Cimzia include:

  • Fever or possible infection
  • If another doctor has prescribed antibiotics to fight an infection
  • Before having surgery
  • Planning to get any vaccinations
  • Rash

Cimzia Video

Watch Dr. Andy Thompson, a Canadian rheumatologist, introduce Cimzia.