Abatacept (Orencia™)

What is Abatacept (Orencia™)?

Abatacept is used to reduce signs and symptoms of moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis, such as
joint swelling, pain, and fatigue. Your doctor has prescribed Abatacept because you have not had an
adequate response to other RA medications. The brand name for Abatacept is Orencia™.

How do I take it?

Abatacept is an infusion (intravenous medication). After you receive your first dose you will get
your second dose 2 weeks later and the third dose at 4 weeks. The maintenance dose begins after the
third dose. The infusion for maintenance is every 4 weeks. The infusion takes about 30 minutes.

What about side effects?

The most common side effect is serious infection. Abatacept can lower the body’s ability to fight
infection. Be sure to contact your physician if you have any type of infection or if you are planning
a surgery. You may have to stop abatacept while being treated for an infection.

You will need to have a negative tuberculosis (TB) skin test before beginning abatacept therapy.
Make sure your doctor knows if you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), as your
condition could worsen.

You should not take a live vaccine (Flu-Mist, chicken pox vaccine, shingles vaccine) while on
abatacept. The flu-shot is not a live virus and all patients should consider having this vaccination
yearly.

What about other medications?

Never take Abatacept with any TNF blocker such as Humira®, Enbrel®, or Remicade®.
When you are taking Abatacept, it is very important that your doctors know if you are taking any
other medicine. This includes prescription and non-prescription medicines as well as birth control
pills, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

What else should I know?

You must continue your regular visits to the rheumatologist. Your doctor will monitor you for any
improvements in your rheumatoid arthritis and for any signs of infections. It may take 2 months of
Abatacept treatment before any improvement in symptoms occurs.

Updated: April 25, 2012

Victoria Ruffing, RN

About Victoria Ruffing, RN

Ms. Ruffing has been a member of the Arthritis Center since 2000, currently serving as the Nurse Manager. She is a critical member of our patient care team.