With nine biologic medications available to treat rheumatoid arthritis, it can be difficult knowing which to choose and how they compare. Read my previous post - Biologic Medications for RA: The Big Picture - for a run-down of medications including Actemra, Cimzia, Simponi, Rituxan, Orencia, Humira, Kineret, Remicade and Enbrel.
Today, we’re comparing Cimzia and Simponi which are medications FDA-approved last year for the treatment of moderate-to-severe rheumatoid arthritis.
CIMZIA (certolizumab pegol) and SIMPONI (golimumab ) are both monoclonal antibody therapies which block the action of tumor necrosis factor (TNF-alpha). TNF-alpha is a substance in the body which contributes to inflammation. Other anti-TNF therapies include Humira, Remicade, and Enbrel.
In addition to rheumatoid arthritis, these medications are approved for the treatment of other diseases. CIMZIA is FDA-approved for the treatment of Crohn’s disease, as are Humira and Remicade. SIMPONI is FDA-approved for the treatment of ankylosing spondylisis and psoriatic arthritis, as are Humira, Remicade, and Enbrel.
All anti-TNF medications carry similar warnings as these drugs affect your immune system and lower its ability to fight infection. Some people have serious infections while taking these drugs including tuberculosis (TB), and infections caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses that spread throughout the body. Some patients have died from these infections.
CIMZIA and SIMPONI are self-injectable medications given by needle under the skin (subcutaneously) on the abdomen, thighs, or outer arms. Humira, Kineret, and Enbrel are also subcutaneous self-injections.
CIMZIA and SIMPONI must each be stored in the refrigerator and allowed to reach room temperature (which takes about 30 minutes) before injection. Used syringes must be disposed of in a puncture-resistant sharps container. Check with the regulations in your county regarding the disposal of sharps containers.
The makers of CIMZIA collaborated with OXO Good Grips® to design a prefilled syringe which would be easier-to-use for arthritic hands and fingers. The syringe incorporates a large thumb pad, oversized plunger rod, nonslip finger grip, oval syringe barrel, and rounded finger loop for easy removal of the pull cap.
CIMZIA is also supplied as a lyophilized powder to be reconstituted in which case a healthcare professional would prepare and give you the injection.
The makers of SIMPONI offer medication in prefilled syringes or in a single-use SmartJect™ autoinjector device which has an easy-to-grip oval shape designed to fit comfortably in your hand. With the SmartJect™ you never see a needle and after use must dispose of the entire device in a puncture-resistant sharps container.