Orencia (abatacept) is a man-made protein that prevents your body’s immune system from attacking healthy tissues such as joints. The immune system helps your body fight infections. In people with autoimmune disorders, the immune system mistakes the body’s own cells for invaders and attacks them.
Orencia is used to treat the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, and to prevent joint damage caused by these conditions. Orencia is also used to treat arthritis in children who are at least 6 years old.
Orencia is not a cure for any autoimmune disorder and will only treat the symptoms of your condition.
You should not use Orencia if you are allergic to abatacept, or if you are also using anakinra (Kineret), etanercept (Enbrel), adalimumab (Humira), certolizumab (Cimzia), golimumab (Simponi), infliximab (Remicade), natalizumab (Tysabri), rituximab (Rituxan), or tocilizumab (Actemra).
Before using Orencia, tell your doctor if you have ever had tuberculosis, if anyone in your household has tuberculosis, or if you have recently traveled to an area where tuberculosis is common.
To make sure you can safely use Orencia, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:
- a weak immune system;
- any type of infection including a skin infection or open sores;
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease);
- if you have ever had hepatitis; or
- if you are scheduled to receive any vaccines.
FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether Orencia will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medication. If you are pregnant, your name may be listed on a pregnancy registry. This is to track the outcome of the pregnancy and to evaluate any effects of Orencia on the baby. It is not known whether abatacept passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are using Orencia. Children using this medication should be current on all childhood immunizations before starting treatment with Orencia.
Some people receiving an Orencia injection have had a reaction to the infusion (when the medicine is injected into the vein). Tell your caregiver right away if you feel dizzy, light-headed, itchy, or have a severe headache or trouble breathing within 1 hour after receiving the injection.
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction to Orencia: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. Serious infections may occur during treatment with Orencia. Stop using Orencia and call your doctor right away if you have signs of infection such as:
- fever, chills, night sweats, flu symptoms, weight loss;
- feeling very tired;
- dry cough, sore throat; or
- warmth, pain, or redness of your skin.
Call your doctor at once if you have any of these other serious side effects:
- trouble breathing;
- stabbing chest pain, wheezing, cough with yellow or green mucus;
- pain or burning when you urinate; or
- signs of skin infection such as itching, swelling, warmth, redness, or oozing.
Less serious Orencia side effects may include:
- nausea, diarrhea, stomach pain, indigestion; or
- headache, dizziness;
- cold symptoms such as stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat, cough;
- back pain.
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.