Humira is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and plaque psoriasis. Doctors have also prescribed Humira to treat Crohn’s disease. The drug works by reducing the effects of tumor necrosis factor in the body, which causes inflammation. It is classified as a Tumor Necrosis Factor inhibitor (TNF). Humira is manufactured by Abbott Laboratories and it has been estimated to have made $6.5 billion in one year. The FDA approved the drug in 2002.
Since 2002, the label for Humira has been changed more than 20 times to warn about newly-discovered side effects. The label now warns of opportunistic infections, malignancies, nervous system disorders, heart failure and tuberculosis. Many of these side effects affect children and young adults.
Humira has also been connected to lymphoma, leukemia and skin cancer. In 2009, the FDA ordered manufacturers to add a black box warning about the increased risk of developing cancer while taking Humira. Patients taking the drug have also been seen to develop a rare type of cancer called hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma (HSTCL), which is often fatal.
In 2011, Abbott warned physicians and patients about the risk of Hepatitis B, liver failure and death in connection to the use of Humira.
Humira has been linked to serious infections and autoimmune disorders including transverse myelitis and multiple sclerosis. Both diseases affect the brain and the spinal cord, along with causing nerve and visual impairment.
Serious side effects may include:
- Fever, night sweats, weight loss, tiredness
- Feeling full after eating only a small amount
- Pain in your upper stomach that may spread to your shoulder
- Easy bruising or bleeding, pale skin, feeling light-headed or short of breath, rapid heart rate
- Nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
- Signs of infection (fever, chills, sore throat, vomiting, diarrhea, flu symptoms)
- Shortness of breath with swelling of your ankles or feet
- Confusion, neck stiffness, seizure (convulsions)
- Pain or burning when you urinate
- Chest pain, ongoing cough, coughing up mucus or blood
- Numbness or tingly feeling, weakness in your legs
- Red, purple, or scaly skin rash, hair loss, joint or muscle pain, and mouth sores
- Joint pain or swelling with fever, swollen glands, muscle aches, vomiting, unusual thoughts or behavior, and/or seizure (convulsions)
- Patchy skin color, red spots, or a butterfly-shaped skin rash over your cheeks and nose (worsens in sunlight)
Less serious Humira side effects may include:
- Stuffy nose, sinus pain
- Nausea, stomach pain
- Pain, redness, itching, swelling, or bleeding where you injected the medication