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What does it do?

Infliximab is an immunosuppressant medicine used to treat inflammatory conditions, such as some types of arthritis, psoriasis, and inflammatory bowel disease. It mops up extra protein that causes inflammation in your body called tumour necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha).

How should you use it?

Infliximab is given as an infusion into a vein over 2 hours when you first start.

Infliximab can cause a reaction while it is being infused. You may have fever or chills, a skin rash, flushing, chest pain, or feel itchy, dizzy or short of breath. Tell your health professional immediately if any of these symptoms occur. They may need to slow the infusion down or stop it temporarily. You may be given medicines shortly before the infusion to help control this reaction. You will need to stay for about 1 hour after the infusion is finished to check you don't have a reaction.

If you don't have a reaction after several infusions, you may be able to have it more quickly and not wait afterwards.

What if you forget a dose?

Infliximab infusion will be given to you by a health professional. If you miss an appointment, contact the health professional as soon as possible.

Can you take other medicines?

Tell your pharmacist or doctor about all medicines or treatments that you may be taking, including vitamins, herbal products or recreational drugs.

What side effects might you notice?

Side EffectsRecommended action

Symptoms of allergy including: skin rash, itching, swelling, trouble breathing, joint, muscle or bone aches and pains

Increased risk of infection - symptoms may include: fever, chills, sore throat, aches and pains, tiredness, pain when peeing, mouth ulcers

Easy/unusual bruising or bleeding

Tingling or numbness

Symptoms of liver problems including: yellow skin or eyes, itching, dark urine, pale bowel motions, abdominal pain

Short of breath, persistent dry cough

Tell your doctor immediately

Swollen feet or legs, short of breath

Constipation

Tell your doctor

Headache, stomach upset

Tell your doctor if troublesome

If you notice any other effects, discuss them with your doctor or pharmacist.

Other information:

  • Tell your doctor if you have a long-term infection e.g. tuberculosis, HIV or hepatitis B or C.
  • Tell your doctor if you have heart or liver problems, or multiple sclerosis.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.
  • Before starting infliximab, you will need to have blood tests and a chest x-ray to check for infections.
  • If you come into contact with someone who has an infection such as TB while you are taking infliximab, tell your doctor.
  • Infliximab affects your immune system. Before you start and while you are using it, check with your doctor what vaccines you might need. You should not have a live vaccine while using it.
  • Infliximab may increase the risk of some types of cancer, including lymphoma (a cancer of the immune system). Talk with your doctor about this risk compared to what infliximab can do to treat your condition.
  • You may not notice the effects of infliximab straight away - it may take 2 weeks or up to 6 months.
  • Protect yourself from too much sunlight while taking immunosuppressant medicines (they may increase your risk of skin cancer). Always cover up and apply a thick layer of broad spectrum sunscreen (at least SPF30) when outside. Do not use sunbeds.
  • Women using infliximab for a long time may need cervical smear tests more often. Discuss with your doctor.
  • It is important to tell anyone who gives you medical or dental treatment that you are taking infliximab.
  • If you are having surgery, it is important to tell your doctor that you are taking infliximab.

This leaflet contains important, but not all, information about this medicine.

Prepared by the PILs Committee at Christchurch Hospital, Canterbury District Health Board, New Zealand. September 2018

For more general information about this sheet and its contents, see: What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

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About My Medicines

My Medicines Patient Information Leaflets (PILs) contain important, but not all, information about the medicines they describe.

For more information about the sheets, see: What does a My Medicines sheet cover?

My Medicines is developed by a team at the Canterbury District Health Board. Our team is made up of doctors, pharmacists, and a non-medical person to help us keep to plain language. We also discuss our information with specialist health professionals or groups when needed