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What does it do?

Adalimumab is an immunosuppressant medicine used to treat inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid 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?

Inject adalimumab under the skin regularly as directed, usually in the stomach or thigh. Choose a new place to inject each time (at least 3 cm away from the last place) so that you do not become sore in one area. You, or the person giving the injections, will be given training on how to use the injections.

What if you forget a dose?

If it is nearly time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and inject your next dose at the usual time. Otherwise, inject the missed dose as soon as possible. Do not inject two doses at the same time.

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

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, muscle weakness or pain

Tell your doctor immediately

Swollen feet or legs, short of breath

Tell your doctor


Stomach upset

Tell your doctor if troublesome

Irritation or pain at injection site

Take it out of the fridge 15 minutes before using to let it warm up. Apply an ice pack to the area before or after the injection.

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 problems, multiple sclerosis, or a latex allergy.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding.
  • Before starting adalimumab, 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 adalimumab, tell your doctor.
  • Adalimumab 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.
  • Adalimumab 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 adalimumab can do to treat your condition.
  • You may not notice the effects of adalimumab 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 adalimumab 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 adalimumab.
  • If you are having surgery, it is important to tell your doctor that you are taking adalimumab.
  • Store adalimumab in the fridge. Keep it in the box to protect from light.
  • Do not save partly used adalimumab syringes or pens – use once and then discard safely in a special ‘sharps’ container. Discuss how to do this with your health professional.

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. November 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