Cimzia (certolizumab pegol)

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: August 2023

Cimzia® (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 2 main types of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD).1,2

In the United States, Cimzia 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 Cimzia?

The active ingredient is certolizumab pegol.2

How does Cimzia work?

Cimzia 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, Cimzia can help to reduce inflammation. For many people with moderate or severe Crohn’s disease, Cimzia can help reduce symptoms and lengthen periods of remission.1,2

What are the possible side effects?

The most common side effects of Cimzia include:2

  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Rash
  • Urinary tract infections

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

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

Other things to know

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

Cimzia 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 Cimzia until the infection is gone. Before prescribing Cimzia, 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 Cimzia and are:2

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

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

You should not take Cimzia 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 Cimzial.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.