Etanercept: Uses, Side Effects

Etanercept is a tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blocker that is used to treat:

  • rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, or ankylosing spondylitis, and to prevent joint damage caused by these conditions;
  • polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis in children who are at least 2 years old; and
  • plaque psoriasis in adults and children who are at least 4 years old.

Etanercept may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.


Important Information

Etanercept affects your immune system. You may get infections more easily, even serious or fatal infections. Call your doctor if you have signs of infection (fever, cough, night sweats, pale skin, bruising or bleeding, loss of appetite, weight loss, feeling very tired).

Using etanercept may increase your risk of developing certain types of cancer, including lymphoma. Ask your doctor about your specific risk.


Before taking this medicine

You should not use etanercept if you are allergic to it, or if you have a severe infection such as sepsis (infection of the blood).

Tell your doctor if you have any signs of infection, such as:

  • fever, chills, sweats, flu-like symptoms, feeling very tired;
  • cough, shortness of breath, coughing up blood;
  • diarrhea, weight loss;
  • skin warmth or redness, open sores; or
  • increased urination, burning when you urinate.

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • a weak immune system, HIV, tuberculosis;
  • hepatitis B;
  • diabetes;
  • congestive heart failure;
  • a nerve disorder such as multiple sclerosis or Guillain-Barré syndrome;
  • seizures;
  • a latex allergy; or
  • if you are scheduled to receive any vaccines.

Using etanercept may increase your risk of developing certain types of cancer, including lymphoma. This has occurred mainly in children and teenagers using TNF-blockers. However, anyone with an inflammatory autoimmune disorder may have a higher risk of lymphoma. Talk with your doctor about your own risk.

Tell your doctor if you have ever had tuberculosis or if anyone in your household has tuberculosis. Also tell your doctor if you have recently traveled. Tuberculosis and some fungal infections are more common in certain parts of the world, and you may have been exposed during travel.

Children should be current on all childhood immunizations before starting treatment with etanercept.

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. You will need to tell your baby’s doctor if you used etanercept during pregnancy, especially before the baby receives any childhood vaccines.

It may not be safe to breast-feed while using etanercept. Ask your doctor about any risk.


Side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Serious and sometimes fatal infections may occur.

Call your doctor right away if you have:

  • fever, chills, flu symptoms;
  • pale skin, easy bruising or bleeding;
  • signs of lymphoma–fever, night sweats, weight loss, stomach pain or swelling, swollen glands (in your neck, armpits, or groin);
  • signs of tuberculosis–cough, night sweats, loss of appetite, weight loss, feeling very tired;
  • new or worsening psoriasis–skin redness or scaly patches, raised bumps filled with pus;
  • nerve problems–dizziness, numbness or tingling, problems with vision, or weak feeling in your arms or legs;
  • signs of heart failure–shortness of breath, swelling in your lower legs;
  • lupus-like syndrome–joint pain or swelling, chest discomfort, feeling short of breath, skin rash on your cheeks or arms (worsens in sunlight); o
  • liver problems–right-sided upper stomach pain, vomiting, tiredness, loss of appetite, yellowing of your skin or eyes.

Common side effects may include:

  • pain, swelling, itching, or redness where the medicine was injected; or
  • cold symptoms such as stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.


What other drugs will affect etanercept?

Tell your doctor about all your other medicines, especially:

  • abatacept (Orencia);
  • anakinra (Kineret);
  • cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan); or
  • insulin or oral diabetes medicine.

This list is not complete. Other drugs may affect etanercept, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible drug interactions are listed here.


Keyword: etanercept.

* The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.