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How Effective Is Adalimumab for Ulcerative Colitis?

By Emma Miller
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The use of adalimumab for ulcerative colitis is generally believed to be effective at reducing disease-related complications of affected patients. Adalimumab typically is used only if other treatments prove ineffective or for patients who have moderate to severe ulcerative colitis. Despite positive findings, the use of adalimumab for ulcerative colitis has some potentially serious side effects, including reactivation of the hepatitis B virus in previously infected patients, opportunistic infections, tuberculosis, allergic reactions and an increased chance of lymphoma.

Ulcerative colitis is a type of inflammatory bowel disorder that causes ulcerations in the lining of the large intestine. The extent and severity of the disease can vary greatly between patients. Ulcerative colitis is thought to be caused by a malfunction of immune system cells that normally protect the body from infection. The disease can develop throughout life but is more common in people of reproductive age. Men and women are equally prone, but a slightly higher occurrence is seen in people of Jewish ancestry.

A man-made monoclonal antibody, adalimumab inhibits the pro-inflammatory protein called tumor necrosis factor (TNF). It is administered subcutaneously via disposable, pre-filled syringes. The typical dosage of adalimumab for ulcerative colitis and other inflammatory bowel disorders is 40 milligrams every second week. Other TNF inhibitor medications include etanercept and infliximab.

Adalimumab for ulcerative colitis works by blocking the effects of tumor necrosis factor and decreasing the immune system hyperactivity that generally characterizes inflammatory bowel disorders. Adalimumab has several drug interaction possibilities that include other TNF inhibitors and methotrexate. Patients who are in treatment with adalimumab should not use live vaccines. The drug suppresses certain immune system functions, so the risks of adalimumab include increased susceptibility to infections and a slightly higher occurrence of cancers such as lymphoma.

Ulcerative colitis has various forms and various degrees of severity. Adalimumab is generally used for refractory forms of the disease that involve several areas of the colon. Many scientific studies have been conducted into the effects of adalimumab. They typically focus on the drug’s effectiveness as a possible standalone therapy or combination therapy for patients who are affected by ulcerative colitis. The studies show that treatment with adalimumab is more effective at reducing complications from ulcerative colitis than a lack of treatment is.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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