What is certolizumab pegol and why is it prescribed?
Certolizumab pegol (trade name Cimzia) is an anti-TNF drug.
In rheumatoid arthritis and some other conditions, too much of a protein called TNF (tumour necrosis factor) is produced in the body, causing inflammation, pain and damage to the bones and joints. Anti-TNF drugs such as certolizumab pegol block the action of TNF and so reduce this inflammation.
Certolizumab pegol isn't a painkiller but can modify the disease and improve your symptoms over a period of 6–12 weeks.
Certolizumab pegol can be prescribed by a rheumatologist for:
There are national and local guidelines that determine when it can be used, and these vary depending on which condition you have. It's usually prescribed alongside methotrexate (unless methotrexate isn't suitable for you).
Are there any reasons I won't be prescribed certolizumab pegol?
Certolizumab pegol won't be started if:
- the disease isn't active
- you have an infection
- you haven't tried other treatments suitable for your condition first.
Doctors sometimes use a score known as DAS28 to work out how active your arthritis is. This counts how many of 28 specific joints are tender and swollen, and looks at inflammation levels in a blood test. You'll also be asked to score how well you feel on a scale of 0 to 10.
Your doctor may decide not to prescribe cartolizumab pegol if you've had:
- repeated or serious infections
- multiple sclerosis (MS)
- a serious heart condition
- lung fibrosis (scarring of the lung tissue).
Before starting certolizumab pegol you'll have a chest x-ray and blood tests to check if you've ever been exposed to tuberculosis (TB). You may need a course of treatment for latent (asymptomatic) TB before starting certolizumab pegol.
You'll also be checked for previous hepatitis infection, as certolizumab pegol may increase the risk of hepatitis being reactivated.
You'll need further blood tests while you're on certolizumab pegol to monitor its effects.