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Updated March 2023
Adalimumab belongs to a class of medications called biological disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (biological DMARDs or bDMARDs). Specifically, it is a TNF inhibitor.
bDMARDs have now been given to over a million people worldwide since their first use in the late 1990s.
These medications block substances, produced by arthritic tissues, called cytokines. These cytokines are found in excessive amounts in the blood and joints of people with rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, juvenile arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.
They cause inflammation, which results in symptoms of pain, joint swelling and stiffness, and can lead to joint damage.
By blocking the cytokine called Tumour Necrosis Factor (TNF), adalimumab lessens inflammation, pain symptoms and helps stop further joint damage.
You may notice lessening of joint swelling, pain and stiffness, often within the first 8 weeks of starting.
If you stop or delay your adalimumab treatment, you may worsen again. Keep on your treatment, unless told by your rheumatologist to stop or unless side effects occur (see Side effects).
If you stop adalimumab for any reason, you must contact your rheumatologist.
There are also biosimilar adalimumab medications. A biosimilar is a version of adalimumab that has been shown to have similar benefits and safety as the original brand. You should not switch between different brands of adalimumab unless told to do so by your rheumatologist. Make sure you are given the same brand each time. If you need to change brands, your rheumatologist will advise you and will check for side effects.
Adalimumab is injected under the skin of the abdomen or thigh. It comes in a pen or a syringe injection.
It can be injected by your doctor, nurse, carer or by you. If injecting yourself, be sure to follow the detailed instructions carefully to ensure the best response. It is particularly important to change where you inject each time.
The usual dose for adults with arthritis is 40mg once every two weeks.
Adalimumab may be used with other arthritis medications including:
You might experience side effects with your treatment. Contact your rheumatologist if you have any concerns about possible side effects.
Many side effects disappear when adalimumab treatment is stopped.
Most common possible side effects
Less common or rare possible side effects
Use with other diseases
Worsening may occur of the following conditions:
Use with other medicines
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Use with alcohol
Use in pregnancy and when breastfeeding