ABATACEPT (Orencia®): Patient Information
What is abatacept (Orencia)?
Abatacept is a man-made protein that prevents your body’s immune system from attacking healthy tissues such as joints. Abatacept is used to treat the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, and to prevent joint damage caused by these conditions. It is also used to treat arthritis in children who are at least 6 years old.
How should I use abatacept?
Before you start treatment with abatacept, your doctor may perform tests to make sure you do not have tuberculosis. If you need to have any type of surgery, tell the surgeon ahead of time that you are using abatacept. If you have chronic hepatitis B you may develop liver symptoms while using abatacept and even months after you stop using it. Your doctor may want to check your liver function at regular visits for up to several months after you stop using abatacept.
What are the possible side effects of this medication?
The most common side effects are headaches, common colds, sore throat and nausea. Children may have diarrhea, cough, fever and abdominal pain. During the infusion, very few patients have reported having allergic reactions, but most are given medication to prevent any reaction. The most important side effect is the risk of developing a serious infection, including pneumonia that requires hospitalization, tuberculosis and others. Abatacept may be associated with a small increased risk of developing certain types of cancer. You should discuss this with your rheumatologist.
What should I avoid while using this medication?
Patients should not receive live vaccines while receiving abatacept or within 3 months of its discontinuation.
What is the usual dose of Abatacept?
Abatacept is given by an intravenous infusion. The normal starting dose is typically 500 to 1000 mg which is based on your body weight. Methotrexate is commonly used in combination with Abatacept which may improve your response to the medication.
How often do I take Abatacept?
You will receive your first dose of Abatacept on week 0. The second dose is given on week 2 and the third dose on week 4. The maintenance dose begins 4 weeks after the third dose and infusions are then given every 4 weeks thereafter. The infusions usually take about 30-60 minutes.
What should I do if I miss a dose of Abatacept?
If you miss your Abatacept infusion, contact your doctor to find out when to reschedule for your next infusion.
Is Abatacept safe in pregnancy?
- Abatacept is a new medication and it is unknown if it is safe to use in pregnancy. Therefore, you should avoid pregnancy while on Abatacept.
- There is no safety information on breast feeding while taking abatacept so breast feeding is not recommended.
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