What are the possible risks and side-effects of abatacept?
Some side-effects can happen around the time of the infusion or injection. The most common are dizziness, headaches and feeling sick (nausea). These aren't usually serious.
Because abatacept affects your immune system (the body's own defence system) you may be more likely to pick up infections. It can also make them harder to spot. The most common are chest and urinary infections, rhinitis and conjunctivitis. Tell your doctor or rheumatology nurse straight away if you develop any of the following symptoms after starting abatacept:
- a sore throat, fever or persistent cough
- unexpected weight loss
any other new symptoms that concern you.
You should also tell your rheumatology team if you have any of these symptoms before having an infusion or injection. They may advise you to delay the treatment.
You should also see your doctor if you develop chickenpox or shingles or come into contact with someone who has chickenpox or shingles. These illnesses can be severe if you're on abatacept. You may need antiviral treatment and your abatacept may be stopped until you're better.
Some people have an allergic reaction with sudden swelling, a rash or breathlessness. This is very rare, but if you do develop these symptoms, or any other severe symptoms, during or soon after a dose of abatacept you should seek medical advice immediately.
There may be a slightly increased risk of some cancers when using drugs like abatacept which interfere with the immune system, though research hasn't so far confirmed this.
Reducing the risk of infection