Patient Education Quick Reference Guide Diablo Valley Oncology/Hematology Medical Group Phone Number: 925-677-5041

Description Your treatment is called abatacept (a-ba-TA-sept) or Orencia® (oh-REN-see-ah). Abatacept is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and has also been used to treat other diseases. Those with RA often have too many active T cell lymphocytes. Abatacept works by blocking the activity of T cell lymphocytes. This helps decrease the inflammation, pain and other symptoms of RA.

What Do I Need to Know Before Starting Treatment?

  • Be sure to tell your healthcare provider about any prescription or over-the-counter products you are taking, including dietary supplements, vitamins, herbal medicines and homeopathic remedies.
  • Use an effective birth control method while you are being treated. Abatacept may cause harm to a fetus, so be sure to tell your healthcare provider right away if you or your partner becomes pregnant.
  • Avoid breastfeeding during treatment. It is not known if abatacept passes into breast milk.
  • Do not get any immunizations or vaccinations while you are being treated without the approval of your healthcare provider. You should have any vaccines you need before starting abatacept. You should not have any live vaccines while you are taking abatacept or for three months after treatment.

What Do I Need to Know Before Starting Abatacept?

  • Abatacept can suppress the immune system. This can make your body less able to fight infection. Abatacept can increase your risk of getting an infection or make any infection that you have worse. Upper respiratory and sinus infections are common during treatment with abatacept. Tell your healthcare provider immediately if you have any signs of infection such as fever, cough, flu-like symptoms, feeling very tired or warm or if you have red or painful skin. Tell your healthcare provider if you have an infection that does not go away or a history of infections that keep coming back. Also tell your healthcare provider if you have an illness that puts you at high risk for infections, such as cancer or HIV. If you have had hepatitis B, abatacept may increase the risk that the hepatitis B will become active again.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if you have had tuberculosis (TB), a positive TB skin test or if you have recently been in contact with someone who has TB. Abatacept may cause TB that has already been treated to become active again. Your healthcare provider will give you a TB skin test before starting treatment and will watch you closely during treatment. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have symptoms of TB, such as a cough that does not go away, coughing up blood, chest pain, pain when breathing or coughing, unexplained weight loss, fever, chills, night sweats or fatigue.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if you are taking adalimumab (Humira®), etanercept (Enbrel®) or infliximab (Remicade®). Using these drugs with abatacept can greatly increase your risk of having a serious infection.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if you have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD. The risk of side effects from abatacept is much higher if you have COPD. These side effects may include shortness of breath, a cough, trouble breathing or worsening of your COPD.
  • Abatacept can cause a reaction within one hour of the infusion. The most common symptoms are flushing, shortness of breath, headache, facial swelling, rash, dizziness and nausea. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any of these symptoms.
  • In very rare cases, abatacept can cause an allergic reaction on the day of treatment or the day after. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have shortness of breath, hives, trouble breathing or swelling of your tongue, eyelids or face.
  • Tell your healthcare provider if you have diabetes and use a blood glucose monitor. Abatacept contains a sugar called maltose. It can give false high blood sugar readings with some blood glucose monitors. Your doctor may tell you to use a different monitor to check your blood sugar levels while being treated with abatacept.
  • Abatacept can increase the risk of developing certain cancers, including lymphoma.
Your treatment can interact with other substances, including:
  • Adalimumab (Humira®), etanercept (Enbrel®), certolizumab (Cimzia®), golimumab (Simponi®), infliximab (Remicade®)
  • Anakinra (Kineret®)
  • Rituximab (Rituxan®)
Please note this list is a summary and does not contain all possible drug interactions. Contact your healthcare provider if you are taking any medications that can interact with your treatment.

Who Should Not Take This Medication

  You should not take this treatment if you are allergic to abatacept or any of its components.

How Is the Treatment Given?

  Abatacept is given by injection into a vein. It usually takes about 30 minutes. The dose you receive will be based on your weight. Your healthcare provider will determine how often you receive a dose.

When Should I Call My Healthcare Provider?

  Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms:
  • Shaking chills or fever of 100.5 degrees F or higher
  • Irregular or rapid heartbeat, chest pain, chest tightness, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing or swelling of your tongue, eyelids or face
  • Dizziness or feeling lightheaded
  • A dry cough that does not go away
  • Painful, difficult or frequent urination
  • Inability to eat or weight loss

What Are the Possible Side Effects?

  All drugs can cause side effects, but every person reacts differently to each drug. The following chart lists the possible side effects that can occur with your treatment. The side effects are grouped by how often the side effect occurs: Less Common (occurred in 5 to 25 percent of patients) or Rare (occurred in less than 5 percent of patients).

Less Common Side Effects

  • Headache or dizziness
  • Back pain
  • High blood pressure
  • Indigestion
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  Rare Side Effects  
  • Pain in the arms or legs