Infliximab also known as Remicade is a drug that is used to fight autoimmune diseases, and many ulcerative colitis patients know it rather well. In the drugs early days in the late 1990′s the drug was approved by the FDA to treat Crohn’s disease patients and in 2005 Remicade was also approved to treat UC patients. So, in the long history of drugs around the world, Remicade is relatively new to the scene, but the results from two large scale clinical trials showed some great signs to fight UC.
There is a long scientific theory on how the drug works to help UC patients, but the short version is based on the drugs ability to neutralize Tumor Necrosis Factor alpha. An even shorter label for Infliximab or Remicade is that it is considered an immunosuppressant drug. Somehow, Remicade knows how to suppress the immune system, and that is sometimes great. As many UC patients are told, UC symptoms are results of an overly active immune system where the body is constantly fighting and tearing up the colon causing the bleeding/pain/ and other common UC symptoms.
So, when does Remicade start working?
Over the past few months, I have come into contact via this website with quite a few people who have either tried Remicade previously or are currently using remicade to treat their ulcerative colitis. To give a general answer, I would definitely say that Remicade “works” quickly, often signs of improvement are noticed within the first 48 hours(if you take remicade and don’t see signs for two or three days, don’t freak out, other have said it has taken them over a week). For me, I noticed considerable positive signs that it was working within 24 hours. If you have been going to the bathroom and bleeding 10 plus times a day and in horrible pain, to see a drug like Remicade give you relief literally overnight is a pure miracle. Many people in the immunology world still consider Remicade a “Breakthrough Drug” of the past decade. From the clinical trials that were conducted several years ago, roughly 45% of patients who were treated with Remicade maintained a positive response to the medication after one year. That means that about half of patients with acute UC saw good signs after trying the medication for a year. The other half did not.
One of the concerns in the clinical world is that many patients who have a great initial positive response to their first remicade infusion may not go like that forever. Some patients who notice overnight or quick positive responses to Remicade might not have those same positive responses after their second or third or fourth infusion. This is what happened to me. Some of the speculation in the medical world is that people may develop antibodies to the medication which reduces its ability to perform its intended job as a treatment. Also, there is speculation that when patients who are using remicade use only once in a while, and not on a specific schedule, they have a higher chance of developing antibodies to the medication which make it less or not useful at all moving forward.
Needless to say, Remicade has the ability to work wonders, and it would not be too hard to find a few UC patients who have had great results with it, but like all medications, it’s not a 100% all the time type of drug. And for sure, there is no money back guarantee either.(I am still looking for a drug company who is offering a money back guarantee, please email if you know of one)
Here are some interesting facts about Infliximab aka Remicade:
-it was first concocted in mice as a mouse antibody
-it was originally used with patients who had Crohn’s Disease
-the cost for being on Remicade for a year can run around $20,000
-it is administered as an infusion with a needle and IV type of setup
-the infusion can last for a few hours, my infusions were usually 2-3 hours
-sometimes you are given a antihistamine pill prior to your infusion
-most insruance companies pay for the medication, but it needs to be medically necessary of course
-it is used for several other medical issues suck as skin diseases
If I could go back in time and had the option to either take Remicade or do nothing back in January 2009, would I take it?
My Answer: Yes. Although it did not work for me long term, and I discontinued using it after the third infusion, I was in such bad shape at the time I was looking for anything to see some relief other than having surgery. Since I had already hit my deductible with the insurance company, the Remicade infusion was totally covered as well.
If my kids came down with UC and they were given the option to try Remicade would I approve right now?
My Answer: No. I for sure would have my kids(if I ever have any) try the diet I am working with before going down the road of immune suppressants. If and only if diet did not work, would I consider immune suppressants, and at that point, I still wouldn’t want to be making that decision, that’s got to be a tough one for parents with children who have UC.
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