Cimzia (certolizumab pegol)

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last Reviewed: January 2023 | Last updated: February 2023

Certolizumab pegol is a type of biologic therapy that can be used to treat certain adults with Crohn's disease. Crohn's is one of the two main types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). In the United States, certolizumab pegol is sold under the brand name Cimzia®.1,2

In the United States, certolizumab pegol is approved for use in adults with moderate-to-severe Crohn’s disease who have not responded to prior treatments. It is not intended for use in children.1,2

What are the ingredients in certolizumab pegol?

The active ingredient is certolizumab pegol.2

How does certolizumab pegol work?

Certolizumab pegol is a type of biologic medicine called an anti-tumor necrosis factor (anti-TNF). This type of drug blocks proteins called tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha). TNF-alpha proteins trigger inflammation in the body. People with IBD, including Crohn’s disease, may have too much inflammation in their digestive tract. This inflammation causes their symptoms.1-3

By targeting TNF-alpha and affecting the way it causes inflammation, certolizumab pegol can help to reduce inflammation. For many people with moderate or severe Crohn’s disease, certolizumab pegol can help reduce symptoms and lengthen periods of remission.1,2

What are the possible side effects?

The most common side effects of certolizumab pegol include:2

  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Rash
  • Urinary tract infections

Certolizumab pegol has a boxed warning, the strictest warning from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It has this warning because taking certolizumab pegol can increase your risk of serious infections (including tuberculosis) and certain types of cancer.2

Other serious side effects of certolizumab pegol may include:2

  • Heart failure
  • Severe allergic reactions
  • Nervous system problems
  • Blood problems
  • Immune system problems

These are not all the possible side effects of certolizumab pegol. Talk to your doctor about what to expect when taking certolizumab pegol. Call your doctor if you have any changes that concern you when taking certolizumab pegol.2

Other things to know

Certolizumab pegol is given through an injection under the skin.1,3

Certolizumab pegol lowers the body’s immune response. People taking it can be more likely to get infections and have a harder time fighting them off if they do. Your doctor will monitor you closely for any signs of infection or other serious side effects while you are taking the drug.2

People who currently have an infection or infectious disease may not be able to start treatment with certolizumab pegol until the infection is gone. Before prescribing certolizumab pegol, your doctor will also ask if you:2

  • Have frequent or recurring infections
  • Have a history of infections
  • Have ever been exposed to tuberculosis

You may be at an increased risk of infection if you take certolizumab pegol and are:2

  • Over the age of 65
  • Have other health conditions
  • Taking immunosuppressants such as steroids or methotrexate

People taking certolizumab pegol cannot receive live vaccines during treatment. You will also be tested for tuberculosis and hepatitis B before starting treatment.2

You should not take certolizumab pegol if you are allergic to any of the ingredients.2

If you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding, tell your doctor before taking certolizumab pegol.2

Before beginning treatment for IBD, tell your doctor about all your health conditions and any other drugs, vitamins, or supplements you are taking. This includes over-the-counter drugs.

For more information, read the full prescribing information of certolizumab pegol.

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