The most common side-effects include a blocked or runny nose, headaches, dizziness, flushing, a rash, stomach pain or indigestion.
Because infliximab affects the immune system it can make you more likely to pick up infections. Rarely, your body may fail to produce enough of the blood cells that help to fight infections or to stop bleeding.
Tell your doctor or rheumatology nurse straight away if you develop any signs of infection such as a sore throat or fever, or have unexplained bruising, bleeding or paleness, or any other new symptoms that concern you. If any of these symptoms are severe, your infliximab may need to be stopped.
You should also see your doctor if you develop chickenpox or shingles or come into contact with someone who has chickenpox or shingles. These infections can be severe if you’re on infliximab. You may need antiviral treatment, and your infliximab may be stopped until you're better.
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 shown an increased risk of other cancers.
Very rarely, people taking infliximab may develop 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. This condition is generally mild and usually clears up if infliximab is stopped.
If you have an interruption in your infliximab treatment of more than 16 weeks, there's an increased risk of an allergic reaction when you start the treatment again. Your doctor or infusion nurse will monitor you more closely when you restart the treatment.
Reducing the risk of infection
- Try to avoid close contact with people with severe active infections.
- For advice on avoiding infection from food, visit the NHS Choices Food Poisoning website.