Humira (adalimumab)

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last Reviewed: April 2022 | Last updated: January 2023

Adalimumab is a biologic treatment that may help to reduce symptoms for certain people with moderate or severe inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). IBD includes Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. In the United States, adalimumab is sold under the brand name Humira®.1-3

Adalimumab is approved in the United States for treating people with moderate or severe Crohn’s disease who are over 6 years of age. It is also approved for children over age 5 and adults who have moderate-to-severe ulcerative colitis.3

What are the ingredients in adalimumab?

The active ingredient is adalimumab.3

How does adalimumab work?

People with IBD may have immune systems that make too much of a protein called tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-alpha. Too much TNF-alpha can cause inflammation in the digestive tract. This inflammation can lead to the signs and symptoms of IBD.1,2

Adalimumab is a type of biologic medicine called an anti-tumor necrosis factor (anti-TNF) drug. Anti-TNF drugs block the TNF-alpha proteins that trigger inflammation. Adalimumab can benefit some people with moderate-to-severe IBD by:1-3

  • Relieving the symptoms of IBD
  • Helping them to enter remission more quickly
  • Helping them to stay in remission for a longer time

What are the possible side effects?

The most common side effects of adalimumab include:3

  • Upper respiratory or sinus infections
  • Headache
  • Reactions around the injection site, such as redness, rash, swelling, itching, or bruising

Serious side effects of adalimumab can include:3

  • Serious bacterial, viral, or fungal infections
  • Certain types of cancer
  • Tuberculosis (TB)
  • Allergic reaction (anaphylaxis) or hypersensitivity reaction
  • Hepatitis B
  • Nervous system problems
  • Heart failure
  • Blood problems
  • Autoimmune problems

Adalimumab has a boxed warning, the strictest warning from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). It has this warning because adalimumab increases a person’s risk of developing serious infections and cancer.1,3

These are not all the possible side effects of adalimumab. Talk to your doctor about what to expect when taking adalimumab. Call your doctor if you have any changes that concern you when taking adalimumab.3

Other things to know

Adalimumab is given as an injection under the skin.1,3

Adalimumab changes the way the body’s immune system works. This can make you more likely to get infections and make it harder to fight them off. If you are taking adalimumab, your doctor will monitor you for any signs of infection or other serious side effects.3

Your doctor will also test you for tuberculosis before starting treatment with adalimumab.3

People taking adalimumab should not receive any kind of live vaccine during treatment. Before treatment, make sure that all of your vaccines are up to date.3

You should not take adalimumab if you are allergic to any of the ingredients.3

If you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding, tell your doctor before taking adalimumab.3

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 adalimumab.