1 What is Orencia?

Brand: Orencia

Generic: Abatacept

Orencia is a drug used for the relief of moderate to mild rheumatoid arthritis. It can be used with or without other drugs based on the severity of the problem.

It works by weakening the immune system and hence decreases the inflammation which stops further joint damage when other drugs have failed to do so.

It can also be used in children and in those having early onset arthritis of unknown origin (juvenile idiopathic arthritis). It is a prescription drug which is available in solution and powder (to make solution) form.

2 What to Know Before Using

If you are about to start using Orencia, speak with your doctor about what you need to know. It is necessary for the patient to tell the doctor any doubts or queries so that this drug can be used with much more understanding.

The doctor should also inform all the effects, interactions and prepare a dosage plan for the patient. A detailed history of a patient is extremely important prior to any medical therapy and in this case, it is preferred that a drug is started after it.

Allergies or any history of allergy to any drug, food, preservatives, dyes or animal products; history of drug usage, past medical or surgical procedure should also be kept in the record to predict any drug interaction.

Physical examination should be done before starting this drug so that any physiological or pathological condition by which this drug may interfere may be ruled out.

Age-specific assessment is necessary to make it even more useful. Its safety has not been determined in children due to lack of enough studies, however, it is considered safe enough for use in them.

Old patients suffering or cancer or any serious infection should use this drug with much more caution. There is also not enough evidence to rule out its harm if used in pregnant or breastfeeding mothers.

Drug interactions may occur as a result of the use of certain medications together. It is important to have a thorough knowledge beforehand to predict such effects and to prevent them.

For this purpose, it is important that the patient gives a detailed history of any drug use.

The use of abatacept with monoclonal antibodies (adalimumab, infliximab, and golimumab), anakinra and etanerecept are considered much harmful and the physician stops any of the drugs used to decrease the chances of interaction.

The use of vaccines is also not a good idea when on therapy with abatacept and one should wait till the termination of therapy. Tobacco, alcohol, and certain foods may also cause interactions.

Other medical problems or drugs are taken for these, may affect the working of abatacept. It is necessary for the patient to inform the doctor about the conditions like cancer, chronic infections, COPD and tuberculosis to avoid potential interactions.

3 Proper Usage

To use Orencia properly, you must follow all instructions given by your doctor. Orencia is available in the form of a solution, or powder to make a solution, which can be used either through intravenous or subcutaneous route.

The solution for I/V route also has maltose along it. The drug should be given by a nurse or any other healthcare professional.

For those who want to use it at home, training is required to tell about its usage. For intravenous usage, the drug is given through a drip for 30 minutes, followed by next doses at 2 and 4 weeks.

This dosage is repeated every 4 weeks, or can be repeated much earlier if there is a much severe condition of the patient. Dose schedule should be kept tightly and if any dose is missed, consult your doctor for the plan. 

4 Precautions to Take

Orencia is an anti-inflammatory drug targeted to relieve rheumatoid arthritis. Some precautions are needed to be taken along with its use to maximize its benefits.

The immune system becomes weaker by the use of this drug and many infectious get a chance to attack. Report any symptom associated with infection to your doctor and stop the medication till it is relieved.

Report any symptom associated with infection to your doctor and stop the medication till it is relieved.

  • Anaphlaxis, life-threatening allergic reaction, may occur with this medication and the patient should rush to the emergency room in this case.
  • Tuberculosis should be ruled out by a skin test before beginning therapy with abatacept.
  • Avoid vaccination during treatment with this drug as there are potential interactions between vaccines and this drug.
  • Diabetics should be careful in using an intravenous type of drug as it contains a type of sugar named maltose. Any patient with diabetes should inform the doctor about this problem in the detailed history.
  • Do not take other medicines of arthritis like monoclonal antibodies (adalimumab, infliximab, rituximab etc.), etanercept, anakinra unless directed by the physician.
  • Allergy to the medication should be reported to the doctor as soon as possible.
  • Regular visits to the doctor should be made sure to see if the drug is working properly.
  • Consult the doctor if any serious problem is suspected.
  • Storage of drug should in a dry environment with room temperature. Keep it away from the reach of children.

5 Potential Side Effects

As with many medications, there are several potential side effects associated with Orencia. Undesirable effects are a drawback of any allopathic medication ever used but one has to consider the benefits of medications over side effects prior to usage of the drug.

Abatacept is a strong medication, usually referred when other medications have failed to bring much change, for rheumatoid arthritis which is associated with some side effects which may or may not occur during therapy.

As it targets our immune system and depresses it to decrease inflammation, chances of opportunistic as well as other infections increase.

There is a serious kind of allergic reaction associated with this drug called anaphylactic reaction which should be dealt as soon as possible, otherwise it becomes life threatening.

It can also reactivate any previous chronic infection like tuberculosis.

Back pain, bladder pain, bloody or cloudy urine, body aches, chills, cough with or without sputum, difficulty in breathing, pain during urination, dizziness, ear congestion, fever, flu, frequent urge to urinate, headache, loss of voice, back or side pain, nausea, vomiting, pain around the eyes, sore throat runny nose, chest tightness, wheezing fatigue and weakness are much common effects of this drug.

Less commonly blurry vision, abdominal pain, stinging sensations, nervousness, dizziness, confusion, lightheadedness, skin rash or fast heartbeat may occur.

The side effects usually disappear after termination of therapy, but it is important to consult your physician for a better guidance and control.

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