Rheumatoid Arthritis Medications
There are 5 main types of medications used to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA). These are listed below. Specific drugs within each type are shown in Table 1 on RA medications.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). NSAIDs reduce pain and inflammation. They do not slow progression of RA.
Corticosteroids. Steroids are most commonly used to reduce inflammation and to help with joint pain and swelling. Some steroids are used to treat severe flares. They also reduce swelling, redness, itching, and allergic reactions. Some steroids are pills. Others are shots. Some steroid shots may be given directly into a joint to relieve severe pain.
Nonbiologic disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drugs (DMARDs). Nonbiologic DMARDs reduce inflammation and symptoms as well as RA progression and joint damage. Most nonbiologic DMARDs are taken as pills or liquids that are swallowed. A few, including methotrexate, are sometimes given as a shot.
Biologics. Biologics are also DMARDs for moderate to severe RA. Thus, they slow the progression of RA. Biologics are designed to reduce inflammation in RA by interfering with steps in the inflammation process. They block specific parts of the immune system that play a role in inflammation. Biologics are taken by injection under the skin (shot) or by infusion into a vein (IV).
Learn more about biologics for RA
Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors. JAK inhibitors disrupt signaling pathways inside the cell involved in the inflammation of RA. By doing so, they help to reduce RA signs and symptoms, including joint pain and swelling.
How RA medications are used
Because each person with RA is different, not everyone will take the same medications. Which medications are used depends on how severe or active RA is, how fast RA is progressing, and how a person has responded to other RA drugs in the past.
Experts on RA recommend that people start treatment with DMARDs when moderate to severe RA is diagnosed. DMARDs may help slow RA progression. In addition to DMARDs, people may also receive NSAIDs and/or low-dose steroids, which treat pain and inflammation but do not slow the disease.
A variety of nonbiologic and biologic DMARDs and drug combinations can be tried to reduce the symptoms of moderate to severe RA. Optimal therapy varies from person to person. You and your doctor will determine what treatment plan is right for you.
Is CIMZIA an option for you?
Talk to your doctor about whether CIMZIA may be a treatment option for you.
Learn more about CIMZIA for treatment of moderate to severe RA
Before starting CIMZIA, tell your doctor about all of your medical conditions as well as all the medicines you take. Especially, tell your doctor if you take*: Kineret® (anakinra), Orencia® (abatacept), Rituxan® (rituximab), or Tysabri® (natalizumab). You have a higher chance for serious infections when taking CIMZIA with these medicines. Also tell your doctor if you are taking a tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blocker such as Remicade® (infliximab), Humira® (adalimumab), Enbrel® (etanercept), Simponi® (golimumab), Xeljanz® (tofacitinib) or Actemra® (tocilizumab). You should not take CIMZIA while you take one of these medicines. You should also not receive a live vaccine while taking CIMZIA.
*Trademarks of products listed are the property of their respective owners.
Table 1. Medications used to treat rheumatoid arthritis include:
||auranofin (oral gold)
|gold sodium thiomalate (injectable gold)
||Simponi® / Simponi® Aria™|
|Janus kinase (JAK) inhibitors*
Important Safety Information
Serious infections have happened in patients taking CIMZIA, including tuberculosis (TB) and infections caused by viruses, fungi, or bacteria that have spread throughout the body. Some patients have died from these infections.
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