Humira (Adalimumab)! What is it and how did it effect me? Biologic's explained!
In 2014 it was recommended that I try Humira (a biological drug) following a serious reaction to Infliximab where I suffered drug induced lupus (covered in a separate blog, what is Infliximab?).
I was tested for any underlying infections and had chest X-rays carried out to ensure I was not carrying tuberculosis or any other contradicting illness or infections, my disease was in full flare and the IV steroids were no longer effective and I was going downhill fast!
My body was attacking itself and the inflammation in my colon was out of control, I was no longer on Azathioprine as I had been on it for over 10 years and that carried risk of cancer as well as other issues, it also had not kept me well for the last few years. Nothing was working, and it was hoped the new drug licensed at that time in the UK, Humira, would help heal me.
The Humira is administered via a single self-administered injection, into subcutaneous areas such as the abdomen or thigh. My first dose was given by a specialist nurse in the IBD clinic, so I could be shown how to do it correctly, I was given antihistamines in case for an allergic reaction. The injection was quick and painless, initially I had 4 injections to load my system, the plan was for 2 shots 2 weeks later and the 1 shot every 2 weeks.
My initial reaction was a small raised red, itchy area around the administration site, this was sore and tender for a few days but went without any additional help needed.
Every time I administered the injections I would alternate legs as my abdomen was too sensitive. The reaction site was soothed with an ice pack, I also found that bringing the injections to room temperature and not wiping the site immediately after helped to reduce the reaction.
Unfortunately for me the Humira was not effective in maintaining my disease and it was stopped after 9 months as I had started having symptoms again, this was the beginning of the flare up that lead me to surgery.
Below are a few photos of the reaction I had in the injection site, they did start to get less each time and that was seen either as a sign of my body managing it or that it was not affecting my body enough to work.
The injections were simple and available via a home delivery system, I had a sharps bin or disposal and the medication had to be kept in the fridge, although for me they were on the NHS, it is a very high cost medication, approx £330 per injection and is only given when all other measures have been exhausted.
I travelled to the USA whilst undergoing the treatment and had a letter from my GP covering me in case of enquiry at customs, I carried a letter to state it had to be held in my hand luggage as the airplane hold would be too cold for the medicine and had no issues with this travelling.
This is my personal experience of Humira, many find it hugely successful and some cannot tolerate it. Every reaction is individual, and it is a very dangerous drug if in the wrong hands. Always seek advice from your qualified practitioner before considering this treatment!