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Anakinra is used to treat inflammatory types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

  • What types of arthritis is anakinra used for?

    Anakinra is used to treat inflammatory types of arthritis, such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA).

    Anakinra is not widely used to treat RA, but may be helpful in people who have not benefited from other treatments. Anakinra may be used as monotherapy or in combination with DMARD therapy, such as methotrexate (MTX).

  • How is anakinra administered?

    Anakinra is delivered by subcutaneous (s.c.) injection — meaning in the fatty layer of tissue just under the skin — once daily.

  • What is the typical dose and when do I take it?

    The dose of anakinra is 100 mg daily. The medication comes in single use pre-filled syringes for administration.

  • How long will it take to work?

    As with all biologics, you may not feel the effects of the anakinra right away. Some people begin to feel the effects of the medication fairly quickly; however, it may take three to six months to feel its full effect. It is important to be patient and keep taking your medication.

    To provide symptom relief while you are waiting for anakinra to take effect, your health-care provider may recommend taking a steroid, such as prednisone, or a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID).

  • When should I not take anakinra and call my doctor?

    Taking anakinra can make it more difficult for your body to fight infection. Therefore, people with active infections should not take anakinra. If you have a fever, think you have an infection or have been prescribed an antibiotic, contact your health-care provider. People who have had frequent infections in the past or a history of tuberculosis should discuss the use of anakinra with their health-care provider.

    Also contact your health-care provider if you are having surgery as you may need to stop anakinra until you are healed and there is no sign of infection.

    Anakinra has not been studied in pregnant women or nursing mothers so its effect(s) on pregnant women or nursing babies are unknown. Anakinra should not be administered to pregnant women unless the benefits outweigh the potential risks. You should tell your doctor if you are pregnant, or are planning to become pregnant. Because of the potential for adverse reactions in nursing infants, a decision should be made with your health-care provider on whether or not to discontinue nursing or the medication, taking into account the importance of the drug to the mother.

    Anyone who has had a previous allergic reaction to anakinra should avoid the medication.

    People with a history of cancer or emphysema should discuss the use of anakinra with their health-care provider.

    Ideally, your vaccinations should be up to date prior to starting an anakinra. If you have already started therapy with anakinra, your health-care provider will likely recommend most inactive vaccines (e.g., influenza, pneumococcal). Live vaccines are not recommended due to risk of causing infection. Before receiving any vaccinations while taking anakinra, you should speak with your health-care provider.

  • What are the side effects of anakinra?

    Like all medications, taking anakinra carries some risk of side effects, which must be balanced with the potential benefits. In general, the risk of joint damage and permanent disability (resulting from arthritis) is much greater than the risks of side effects from anakinra. When monitored properly the vast majority of side effects are rare, most improve over time and are reversible.

    Firstly, anakinra can increase your risk of infections.

    In rare cases, people may experience headaches, nausea and abdominal pain while taking anakinra. If these symptoms become severe please speak with your health-care provider.

    Anakinra can cause a reaction (redness, pain and itching) at the injection site. Talk to your health-care provider if these symptoms become severe.

    Also in rare circumstances, anakinra can affect your blood counts. Your prescriber will monitor for this.

  • What helps to reduce side effects?

    Take anakinra as prescribed and contact your health-care provider if you have any concerns while taking the medication.

    To avoid injection reactions, rotate injection sites and avoid areas where the skin is tender, bruised, red and/or hard.

  • Do I need any monitoring while taking anakinra?

    It is important to occasionally have your blood tested while taking anakinra. Your health-care provider will order periodic blood tests to check your blood count and follow the activity of your arthritis.

This information was last updated November 2017, with expert advice from:

Jason Kielly, B.Sc. (pharm.), Pharm.D.
Assistant Professor, School of Pharmacy, Memorial University of Newfoundland
Clinical Pharmacist, Rheumatic Health Program, Eastern Health

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