What is Sarilumab (Kevzara®)?
Sarilumab is in a class of drugs called biologics. Sarilumab is a treatment for adults with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA). You must have tried and failed another medication for RA before starting sarilumab. Sarilumab blocks a substance called IL-6, known to cause inflammation. People with RA often have too much IL-6. Sarilumab is commonly known as Kevzara®.
How do I take it?
Sarilumab is given as an injection every two weeks. Sarilumab comes in a pre-filled syringe. You will be taught to give yourself a needle. You will give yourself a shot once every two weeks.
What about side effects?
- Some people have serious infections while taking sarilumab. You should call your doctor if you think you have an infection.
- Let your rheumatologist know if you live or have lived in places where fungal infections are more common. For example, histoplasmosis is more common in the Ohio River Valley.
- You should have a TB (tuberculosis) test and a test for hepatitis B before beginning Sarilumab.
- There have been some cases of tears in the stomach or intestines, call your doctor if you have fever and stomach pain or there is a change in your bowel habits.
- Other side effects may include changes in your liver and other blood tests. It is important to have any blood tests that your doctor orders. Your doctor will monitor this blood work to look for problems.
- You should let your doctor know if you are planning any surgery. Sarilumab affects your immune system and may affect healing.
- If you are on the shot, the medicine can cause itching or redness near the injection site. If this happens, the discomfort should be mild. If you have pain, swelling, warmth, or discoloration near the injection site, you should contact your healthcare provider.
What about other medications?
When you are taking Sarilumab, 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 disease and for any signs of infections. Most patients notice an improvement in symptoms by one month of starting treatment.