What are the possible risks and side-effects of adalimumab?
The most common side-effects are reactions at the injection site, such as redness, swelling or pain, but these aren't usually serious. Regularly changing the injection site will help reduce the chances of this irritation.
Because adalimumab affects the immune system, it can make you more likely to pick up infections. It can also make them harder to spot. Tell your doctor or rheumatology nurse straight away if you develop any signs of infection – for example, a sore throat, fever, diarrhoea, coughing up green phlegm – or any other new symptoms that concern you. If any of these symptoms are severe, you should stop taking adalimumab and see your doctor straight away.
You should also see your doctor immediately 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 adalimumab. You may need antiviral treatment, and your adalimumab may be stopped until you're better.
Rarely, people may have an allergic reaction. Contact your healthcare team if you think this may be happening. If the reaction is severe the drug will have to be stopped.
Anti-TNF drugs have been associated with some types of skin cancer – these can be readily treated when diagnosed early. Research so far hasn't confirmed an increased risk of other cancers.
Very rarely, adalimumab may cause a condition called drug-induced lupus, which can be diagnosed by a blood test. Symptoms include a rash, fever and increased joint pain. If you develop these symptoms you should contact your rheumatology team. The condition is usually mild and clears up if adalimumab is stopped.
Reducing the risk of infection