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What is abatacept and why is it prescribed?

Abatacept (trade name Orencia) is a biological therapy. It blocks T-cell function to reduce inflammation in rheumatoid arthritis.

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How do I take abatacept and how long does it take to work?

Abatacept is given either as a monthly infusion (drip) in hospital or as a weekly injection under the skin which you can learn to do yourself.

It may be several weeks before you start to feel the benefit of the treatment.

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What are the possible risks and side-effects of abatacept?

The most common side-effects of abatacept are caused by the infusion or injection, and these are headaches and dizziness. Abatacept can also make you more likely to develop infections.

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Can abatacept affect other medicines and treatments?

You can use other medications alongside abatacept but you should always check with your doctor before starting any new ones. Live vaccines aren't usually recommended and you may need to stop abatacept if you're going to have surgery.

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Can I drink alcohol while I'm on abatacept?

There's no known interaction between abatacept and alcohol, but you should only drink in moderation if you're also on methotrexate.

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Can abatacept affect fertility, pregnancy or breastfeeding?

It's not yet known how abatacept might affect pregnancy or breastfeeding, so it's not usually recommended in these situations.

However, it's unlikely to be harmful if taken in the early stages of pregnancy.

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