What You Need To Know About Cimzia (Certolizumab Pegol)

This Anti-TNF Blocker Is Used to Treat Crohn's Disease

Cimzia is given by injection, and might be done in a doctor's office, but it is typically done by most patients at home.. Image © GIPhoto / Stock Cultura / Getty Images

Cimzia (certolizumab pegol) is type of drug known as a TNF-alpha (tumor necrosis factor alpha) blocker. TNF-alpha may play an important role in the development of Crohn’s disease. Various studies have shown that blocking TNF-alpha in patients with severe Crohn's disease could help calm the symptoms of the disease, and lessen the inflammation it causes. Cimzia is a synthetic antibody that inactivates TNF-alpha.

 Cimzia is not approved to treat the other form of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), ulcerative colitis.

TNF-alpha is a cytokine, a protein molecule produced by certain cells that transmits messages to other cells. In good health, your cytokines help your immune system to coordinate itself properly. Crohn's disease is an example of a disease where too much of one cytokine makes you sick.

Why Is Cimzia Prescribed?

Cimzia bonds to TNF-alpha, which is thought to prevent the TNF-alpha from causing inflammation. This can help induce remission from Crohn's disease. Cimzia is currently approved for use in people who have moderate to severe Crohn’s disease and have not seen improvements in their Crohn’s symptoms after taking other drugs.

How Is Cimzia Given?

Cimzia is given as two injections in a hospital or doctor's office. The injections are given under the skin in the thigh or the abdomen. The dosage is 400 mg (2 injections of 200 mg each) given initially 3 times at 2-week intervals.

People who respond to the therapy and have reduced the symptoms of Crohn’s disease can receive the maintenance dose of 400 mg every 4 weeks.

What Are the Side Effects?

Common side effects of Cimzia include:

  • Bladder infections
  • Joint pain
  • Upper respiratory infections such as colds or the flu

Tell your doctor if any side effects are bothersome or don't go away.

Rarely other, more serious side effects can occur, such as infections, cancer, seizures, allergic reactions, nervous system conditions, heart failure, blood conditions. See Cimzia Side Effects page for more information.

Are There Any Other Special Concerns?

Cimzia has been associated with serious infections, including tuberculosis (TB). You should be tested for TB before starting treatment with Cimzia. If you have TB, treatment should begin before receiving Cimzia. Cimzia lowers the effectiveness of the body’s immune system and can make you more vulnerable to infections. Avoid contact with people who are sick, such as anyone who has a cold or the flu.

Any signs or symptoms of an infection, such as fever, chills, sore throat, flu-like symptoms, or any open cuts or sores should be reported to your doctor as soon as possible.

People receiving Cimzia should not be given “live” vaccinations.

Cimzia may be associated with an increase in developing certain cancers (such as lymphoma) and immune reactions (such as a lupus-like syndrome).

Who Shouldn't Take Cimzia?

Tell your doctor if you:

  • Are currently pregnant or breastfeeding
  • Are planning any vaccinations
  • Have signs or symptoms of an infection (fever, chills, flu-like symptoms)
  • Think you may have an infection
  • Currently have an infection
  • Have recurrent or chronic infections
  • Have open cuts or sores
  • Are currently taking Kineret (anakinra)

Tell your doctor if you have or have had any of these conditions:

  • Cancer
  • Diabetes
  • Heart failure
  • Hepatitis B
  • HIV
  • Nervous system condition (such as multiple sclerosis)
  • Seizures
  • Tuberculosis (or have been near someone with tuberculosis)

Any Drug Interactions?

Because it is a newer drug, Cimzia has not been extensively studied for drug interactions. Tell your doctor if you are taking Kineret (anakinra). People taking Kineret have a higher risk of developing infections.

Are There Any Food Interactions?

There are no known food interactions.

Is Cimzia Safe During Pregnancy?

The FDA has classified Cimzia as a type B drug. Studies on animals show no evidence of harm to the fetus; however, there are no adequate, well-controlled studies in pregnant women. Cimzia should only be used in pregnant women when clearly needed. Notify the prescribing doctor if you become pregnant while taking Cimzia.

It is not known if Cimzia passes into breast milk. Tell your doctor if you are nursing a baby.


U.S. Food and Drug Administration. “FDA Approves Cimzia to Treat Crohn's Disease.” FDA News 22 Apr 2008.

UCB. ”Cimzia Medication Guide.” Cimzia.com 2008.

Schreiber S, Khaliq-Kareemi M, Lawrance IC, Thomsen OØ, Hanauer SB, McColm J, Bloomfield R, Sandborn WJ; PRECISE 2 Study Investigators. ”Maintenance therapy with certolizumab pegol for Crohn's disease.N Engl J Med Jul 19 2007.

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