Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.
Allergic reactions: In rare cases, some people may develop an allergic reaction to this medication. Signs of an allergic reaction include a severe rash, hives, swollen face or throat, or difficulty breathing. If these occur, contact your doctor immediately. The needle cover on the prefilled syringe contains dry natural rubber. Before you start injections, tell your doctor if you have an allergy to rubber or latex.
Anemia: Etanercept may cause low levels of red blood cells. If you experience symptoms of reduced red blood cell count (anemia) such as shortness of breath, feeling unusually tired, or pale skin, contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Bleeding: Etanercept can cause a reduced number of platelets in the blood, which can make it difficult to stop cuts from bleeding. If you notice any signs of bleeding, such as frequent nosebleeds, unexplained bruising, or black and tarry stools, or blood or material that looks like coffee grounds in vomit, notify your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will order routine blood tests to make sure potential problems are caught early.
Cancer: Very rarely, people taking etanercept and similar medications have developed leukemia or lymphoma, types of blood cancer. In general, people with rheumatoid arthritis or psoriasis who take medications that suppress the immune system over long periods of time may also have a higher risk of developing lymphoma, even if they don't take etanercept. Discuss any concerns you have with your doctor.
There may be a slightly increased risk of developing melanoma (a type of skin cancer). Report any unusual growths on your skin to your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will monitor you for skin cancer while you are taking this medication. Talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.
Diabetes: Etanercept may cause a decrease in blood sugar levels and glucose tolerance may change. People with diabetes may find it necessary to monitor their blood sugar more frequently while using this medication.
If you have diabetes or are at risk for developing diabetes, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Heart failure: Etanercept may worsen congestive heart failure. If you have heart failure, talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of using this medication. Symptoms to watch out for include swelling of the feet and ankles and shortness of breath. If you notice these symptoms, contact your doctor immediately.
Hepatitis B: People infected with hepatitis B virus (an infection that can damage the liver) may have a relapse of their condition while taking this medication. If you are at risk for hepatitis B, your doctor may test you for this infection before starting treatment with etanercept and will follow your condition closely while you are taking the medication. If you notice symptoms of liver problems, such as abdominal pain, yellow eyes or skin, loss of appetite, fatigue, or dark urine, contact your doctor immediately.
Infections: This medication can increase the risk of developing an infection, including serious infections such as sepsis, chicken pox, fungal infections, and tuberculosis. Before starting etanercept treatment, your doctor may test to see if you have tuberculosis. If you notice signs of an infection such as fever, chills, pain, swelling, coughing, or pus, contact your doctor as soon as possible. This medication should also not be started while you have an active infection. This medication should not be used in combination with anakinra or abatacept, as these medications can increase the risk of severe infection.
Tell your doctor if you have a history of infections that keep coming back, or other conditions that might increase your risk of infections (e.g., diabetes) or have visited or lived in areas where there is a greater risk of certain kinds of fungal infection (e.g. blastomycosis). While you are taking etanercept, your doctor will monitor you for signs of infection.
Nervous system: This medication may cause or worsen nervous system disorders. If you have a history of nervous system disorders, such as multiple sclerosis, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
If you experience numbness or tingling, weakness in your arms or legs, dizziness, or vision changes while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.
Vaccines: Vaccines (e.g., yellow fever, BCG, cholera, typhoid, varicella, meningococcal, diphtheria) should not be given while you are taking etanercept. Children with JIA should complete the recommended vaccination schedule before receiving their first dose of etanercept.
Pregnancy: There have been no studies on the use of etanercept by pregnant women. Etanercept crosses the placenta and may affect the developing baby if it is used by the mother during pregnancy. For this reason, this medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.
Breast-feeding: This medication passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking etanercept, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.
Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication has not been established for children younger than 4 years old. It can be used to treat children aged 4 to 17 years who have moderate-to-severe juvenile idiopathic arthritis or chronic severe psoriatic arthritis.
Seniors: People over the age of 65 may be more at risk of side effects from this medication.