Remicade is the brand name for the drug Infliximab.
While there are no known cures for IBD, there are many treatment options. As for medications, there are various choices. When doctors and patients decide on biologics Remicade is usually one of the top choices.
Remicade for IBD treatment
Although it is used to treat Crohn’s disease & Ulcerative colitis it was initially designed to treat cancer. It is a Tumor Necrosis Factor (TNF) blocker. TNF is the protein created by the immune system when there is a disease or other condition present. Therefore, in the case of chronic illness such as Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, rheumatoid arthritis, and other autoimmune diseases Remicade is introduced when other medications or treatments have not helped.
Is Remicade covered by insurance?
Most medical insurance plans and providers cover Remicade. However, coverage varies, so be sure to ask about options. Most of the time, medications not covered by insurance plans have a generic counterpart.
Does Remicade cure IBD?
Currently, there is no identified cure for IBD. However, many people find that Remicade puts their disease into remission. As a result, they are able to return to a high functioning lifestyle. Remicade infusions help patients get back into the gym, work, or school by blocking the action of TNF protein.
Side effects of Remicade
- fever and chills
- lower blood cell count
- liver disease
- blood pressure changes
- shortness of breath
- abdominal pain
- serious infection
- risk of cancer
Remicade may not cause any side effects for short term use. However, the longer you are on the medication the greater the risk of developing side effects. These include fever, chills, aches, rashes and other problems. More importantly, you should avoid exposure to anything that can promote infection. It carries a significant risk for tuberculosis and fungal infections that can be deadly to patients. Serious infections are a side effect, treat any open sores or wounds as soon as possible. Identify a possible infection by monitoring body temperature, presence of coughs, fatigue, tender and warm skin.
Risk of cancer with IBD medication
- colon cancer
- breast cancer
- cervical cancer
One of the things to talk over with your doctor is the risk of cancer. Remicade.com lists cancer, COPD, liver disease, heart attack, psoriasis and other issues as side effects to watch out for after infusion. The increased risk of cancer is higher in patients with family history. Additionally, young patients carry significant risk for lymphoma.
IBD patients are already at risk for colon cancer, talk to your doctor to determine if this is right for you.
Liver problems with IBD medication
The liver is an essential part of the digestive system. It is most commonly known for detoxifying the blood. However, the liver also plays the role of synthesizing proteins that the body needs, makes bile to digest food, while sorting what the body needs to excrete and what it needs to keep.
As explained by the Weston A. Price Foundation, the liver is not to be compared with the lint screen on your dryer. In other words, it isn’t a toxin “dump”. In fact, the liver is self cleansing and the risk of liver problems arises when it isn’t able to clear out the toxins it is filtering out of the rest of body.
The risk of liver damage and disease with this medication increases the longer you are on it. Remicade is linked to rare, but sometimes deadly liver reactions. In a letter addressed to healthcare professionals, Centocor drug maker, warned doctors of liver failure, jaundice, and other liver problems. Additionally, lab tests for standard liver problems did not always detect the reactions.
Liver problems & Remicade
Despite the FDA and Centocor warning, the medication appears to help many patients and these effects are quite rare. These issues arise anywhere from after infusion to 1 year later.
Symptoms of liver problems
- poor appetite
Remicade is used to treat autoimmune conditions by blocking the action of TNF alpha protein. The drug binds with TNF alpha inhibiting their natural reaction, and suppressing the immune system. Generally, infusion frequencies vary. While some patients require infusions every 7 weeks some go for every 8. It depends on the autoimmune condition and severity.
In this case, Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn’s and Colitis) infusions begin one every two weeks, then four, then seven or eight depending on what your doctor thinks is appropriate. Usually, you can expect the procedure to take about 2 hours, because you remain in the hospital after the infusion to watch for immediate side effects. Afterwards, you can continue with regular tasks and routines for the most part symptom free.
Generally speaking, you should not suppress the immune system for long period of time for several reasons. However, when people ask how long you can take Remicade for, the answer depends on the individual. In fact, some people take the medication for up to 6 years, whereas others tolerate it no longer than 1 year. Nonetheless, review your options, do your research, and speak to your doctor about getting on or off medications.