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Secukinumab is used to treat inflammatory types of arthritis, such as psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.

  • What types of arthritis are secukinumab used for?

    Secukinumab is used to treat inflammatory types of arthritis, such as psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.

    Secukinumab is used when there has been an inadequate response to DMARD therapy.  For psoriatic arthritis secukinumab may be used alone or in combination with methotrexate (MTX).

  • How is secukinumab administered?

    Secukinumab is given by subcutaneous (s.c.) injection (meaning in the fatty layer of tissue just under the skin).  You, a family member or a friend can be taught how to give the injection.

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

    The recommended dose is 150 mg by s.c. injection weekly for the first 5 weeks. Followed by maintenance injections every 4 weeks.

    Secukinumab comes in a single prefilled syringe or a SensoReady® pen.  Each syringe or pen contains 150 mg of secukinumab.

  • How long will it take to work?

    Like all of the biologics, you will not feel the effects of secukinumab right away. Some people begin to feel the effects of secukinumab within a few weeks; however, it may take three to six months to feel the full effect. It is important to be patient and keep taking your medication.

    To provide symptom relief while you are waiting for secukinumab 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 be given secukinumab and call my doctor?

    Secukinumab can make it more difficult for your body to fight infections. People with active infections should not take secukinumab. 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 secukinumab with their prescriber.   

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

    Secukinumab has not been studied in pregnant women or nursing mothers so its effect(s) on pregnant women or nursing babies are unknown. 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 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 secukinumab should avoid the medication.  The removable cap of the prefilled syringes and pens contains a derivative of latex.  Caution is advised if you have a latex allergy.

    Before starting secukinumab tell your health-care provider if you have inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s or ulcerative colitis).  Secukinumab can cause new onset or flares of inflammatory bowel disease.  Tell your health-care provider if you develop diarrhea while taking secukinumab.

    Ideally, your vaccinations should be up to date prior to starting secukinumab. If you have already started therapy with secukinumab, 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 secukinumab, you should speak with your health-care provider.

  • What are the side effects of secukinumab?

    Like all medications, taking secukinumab 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 secukinumab. When monitored properly the vast majority of side effects are rare, most improve over time and are reversible.

    Firstly, secukinumab can increase your risk of infections. The most commonly reported side effect with secukinumab is symptoms of a cold (sore throat, stuffy nose).  

    People have also commonly reported experiencing cold sores, diarrhea, itchy rash and runny nose.  Talk to your health-care provider if any of these symptoms affect you severely.

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

  • What helps to reduce side effects?

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

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

  • Do I need any monitoring if I have been given secukinumab?

    Blood tests are not routinely required while you are taking secukinumab. Your health-care provider may 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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