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Updated June 2022
Ustekinumab (brand name: Stelara(r)) is a medicine used to treat adults with psoriatic arthritis, an inflammatory disease of the joints that is often accompanied by psoriasis. Ustekinumab is also used to treat adults with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis, that is chronic (lasts for a long time).
Ustekinumab is a monoclonal antibody which is a protein that recognises and binds to other unique proteins. Ustekinumab blocks the action of two proteins in the body that are made by your body’s immune system. By blocking the two proteins, Ustekinumab may block the inflammatory pathways in psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis.
Ustekinumab is a medicine used for patients who have severe active psoriatic arthritis. It does not work straight away. It may take a number of weeks for you to notice some relief of joint swelling, pain and stiffness.
If you stop or delay your Ustekinumab treatment, your condition may get worse. Keep on your treatment, unless told by your rheumatologist to stop or unless side effects occur (see Side effects). If you stop Ustekinumab for any reason, you must contact your rheumatologist. Failure to do so may mean that your treatment may no longer be funded.
Ustekinumab is injected just under the skin (subcutaneously) of the abdomen or thigh. It is best to avoid (if possible) any areas of skin involved with psoriasis.
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 the injection site each time.
Do not shake the vials of Ustekinumab at any time. Vigorous shaking may damage the product.
Vials that have been shaken vigorously should not be used.
If you forget an injection, make the next injection as soon as you remember and continue to use it as you normally would. Do not inject a double dose to make up for the one you missed.
If you have missed more than one dose or are not sure what to do, check with your doctor or pharmacist.
Contact your doctor straight away or go to your nearest hospital, even if there are no signs of discomfort or poisoning. You may need urgent medical attention.
Ustekinumab is a solution for injection that comes in a glass vial. Each vial contains 45mg of Ustekinumab. The usual dose of Ustekinumab is 45mg (the contents of one vial) injected when you start treatment, then again 4 weeks later, and every 12 weeks after that.
Ustekinumab may be taken in combination with other arthritis medicines, including:
There are separate information sheets for the medicines mentioned above.
Treatment can continue with ustekinumab as long as it is effective and you are not experiencing any adverse effects. Your doctor will tell you how long to continue treatment with Ustekinumab. If you see no improvement in your symptoms after 28 weeks of Ustekinumab treatment, the treatment will be stopped.
As with most medicines, ustekinumab may cause side effects in some people. You may need medical treatment if you get some side effects.
Tell your doctor if you are concerned about any possible side effects.
The most common side effects with ustekinumab are upper respiratory infections such as sinus infection, sore throat or headache. These are usually mild. Tell your doctor if you are concerned, or if the side effects persist for a long time.
Other less common side effects include dental infections, injection site pain or redness, skin rash or itchiness, diarrhoea or nausea, tiredness or depression.
Other side effects not listed here may also occur. Tell your doctor if you notice any other side effects that you think might be caused by ustekinumab.
If you have an active infection, treatment with Ustekinumab will not be started until the infection is treated successfully. Serious infections such as tuberculosis (TB) are seen rarely, and screening for TB may be needed before treatment begins.