Cimzia (certolizumab pegol) and Humira (adalimumab) are prescription medications. They’re approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat various inflammatory conditions, including:

Each of these conditions causes your immune system (the body’s defense against disease) to mistakenly attack healthy cells. Cimzia and Humira help prevent the immune system from doing this. The drugs reduce inflammation and help manage symptoms of the condition.

Cimzia and Humira have other uses, as well. In addition, the two drugs are both brand-name biologic medications. Neither is currently available in biosimilar form. (A biologic is a drug that’s made using living cells. A biosimilar is a medication that’s similar to a brand-name biologic drug.)

This article explains the main differences between Cimzia and Humira. If you’re considering using one of these drugs, discussing this information with your doctor can help you decide if one of these treatments may be right for you.

Note: For more comprehensive information about these two drugs, visit our Cimzia and Humira articles.

Cimzia contains the active drug certolizumab pegol. Humira contains the active drug adalimumab. Both Cimzia and Humira are biologics, which are drugs that are made using living cells. In addition, the two medications belong to a class of drugs called tumor necrosis factor blockers. (A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way.)

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Cimzia and Humira for the following uses.

Cimzia or Humira and children

Cimzia isn’t currently approved for use in children.

Humira is approved for some uses in children. These uses are to treat or ease symptoms of:

  • moderate to severe Crohn’s disease in children ages 6 years and older
  • noninfectious uveitis in children ages 2 years and older
  • moderate to severe juvenile idiopathic arthritis in children ages 2 years and older
  • moderate to severe hidradenitis suppurativa in children ages 12 years and older

Below are answers to some common questions about Cimzia and Humira.

I’ve tried Humira and it hurt. Does Cimzia hurt like Humira does?

It might not. Both Cimzia and Humira can sometimes cause pain in the area where they’re injected. These injections can also cause redness, swelling, or bruising. However, these types of reactions don’t seem to occur as often with Cimzia as they do with Humira.

In clinical studies, injection site reactions were the most common side effect reported with Humira. Injection site reactions were also reported with Cimzia in clinical studies.

If you experience an injection site reaction with Cimzia or Humira that’s bothersome, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They may be able to recommend ways to ease your discomfort.

Can I use Cimzia or Humira during pregnancy?

You might be able to, but you should discuss this with your doctor. There’s not enough information available to know for sure if either Cimzia or Humira is safe to use while pregnant. However, doctors do sometimes prescribe these drugs for use during pregnancy. That’s because some conditions that the drugs treat can cause problems if they’re not managed well during pregnancy.

For example, if you have active rheumatoid arthritis or Crohn’s disease while pregnant, you may have a higher risk for miscarriage. Your child could also have a higher risk of being born prematurely or having a low birth weight. If using Cimzia or Humira helps manage your condition, the drug may lower the risk of these problems.

It’s important to note that Humira is known to cross the placenta to the fetus if the drug is used in the last 3 months of pregnancy. This could temporarily weaken the child’s immune system for a few months after birth. There seems to be less concern about a weakened immune system with Cimzia, which crosses the placenta in low amounts.

If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, talk with your doctor about the possible risks and benefits of these drugs.

How much Cimzia or Humira costs depends on the treatment plan your doctor prescribes, your insurance plan, and your pharmacy. You can find price estimates for these medications on GoodRx.com.

Both Cimzia and Humira are brand-name drugs. Neither drug comes in biosimilar form. Biosimilars generally cost less than brand-name drugs.

Cimzia comes in two forms:

  • single-dose prefilled syringe
  • single-dose vial

Humira comes in three forms:

  • single-dose injection pen
  • single-dose prefilled syringe
  • single-dose vial

Cimzia and Humira are both given by subcutaneous injection into the thigh or abdomen.

When you first start using Cimzia or Humira, a healthcare provider will give you the injection at your doctor’s office. In some cases, they may also teach you how to give yourself the injections at home, using the prefilled syringe or injection pen. Talk with your doctor if you’re interested in learning how to do this.

With maintenance (long-term) treatment, Cimzia is typically given either once every 2 weeks or once every 4 weeks. Humira is typically given either once weekly or once every 2 weeks. The dosage of either drug will depend on the treatment plan your doctor prescribes for you.

Cimzia and Humira are both a type of drug called a tumor necrosis factor blocker. Therefore, these medications can cause very similar side effects. Some of these side effects are mentioned below. For more information on side effects, see the Cimzia medication guide and Humira medication guide.

Mild side effects

The following lists address some of the more common mild side effects shared by both Cimzia or Humira, and some that both drugs share.

These side effects may be temporary, lasting a few days or weeks. But if the side effects last longer than that, bother you, or become severe, be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious side effects

The following list addresses the serious side effects that can occur with both Cimzia and Humira:

If you have serious side effects of Cimzia or Humira, call your doctor immediately. If the side effects feel life threatening, or you believe you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number right away.

Note: For more information about mild and serious side effects, see our articles on Cimzia side effects and Humira.

* Cimzia and Humira both have a boxed warning for this side effect. A boxed warning is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For more information, see the “Warnings of Cimzia and Humira” section below.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Cimzia and Humira for different uses, but both drugs are used to treat the following:

Cimzia and Humira have been found effective at treating these diseases or conditions. The following chart shows the disease or condition, the study or review of studies that compared the drugs, and which drug was found to be more effective.

Disease or conditionWas Cimzia or Humira more effective?Comparison source
Plaque psoriasisHumiraReview of studies
Psoriatic arthritis**
RASimilarly effectiveClinical study
Ankylosing spondylitisSimilarly effectiveReview of studies
Crohn’s diseaseHumiraReview of studies

For information about how these drugs performed in other clinical studies, see the prescribing information for Cimzia and Humira. Keep in mind that studies and reviews may not apply to your individual health situation. Be sure to talk with your doctor to see if Cimzia or Humira is right for you.

* Cimzia and Humira haven’t been directly compared for treating psoriatic arthritis.

Guideline recommendations

Both certolizumab pegol, the active drug in Cimzia, and adalimumab, the active drug in Humira, are recommended in certain guidelines. The guidelines are from National Psoriasis Foundation (NPF), the American College of Rheumatology (ACR), and the American College of Gastroenterology (ACG).

The following chart lists the disease or condition and which drug is recommended by which guidelines.

Disease or conditionRecommends CimziaRecommends HumiraGuidelines
Plaque psoriasisXXNPF
Psoriatic arthritisXXNPF
RAXXACR
Ankylosing spondylitisXXACR
Crohn’s diseaseXXACG

Cimzia and Humira may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. Here, these are referred to as “warnings.” The two drugs work in the same way in your body and share the same warnings. Some of these are mentioned below. Before you start using Cimzia or Humira, be sure to talk with your doctor to see if these warnings apply to you.

Boxed warnings

Both Cimzia and Humira have boxed warnings. These are the most serious warnings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A boxed warning alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.

Serious infections. Taking Cimzia or Humira can increase your risk for serious infections that may need treatment in a hospital. In some cases, these infections may lead to death. Examples of these infections include tuberculosis (TB). They also include fungal infections that spread throughout the body and infections that typically affect only people with weak immune systems.

You’re more likely to develop a serious infection if you use Cimzia or Humira with other drugs that weaken your immune system, such as methotrexate (Trexall, Otrexup) or corticosteroids.

Before you start using Cimzia or Humira, you’ll be tested for TB and treated for it, if needed. Your doctor will also ask about any other infections and treat these, if necessary. If you develop an infection while taking Cimzia or Humira, see your doctor right away. If you have a serious infection, you may need to stop taking the drug.

Cancer. Taking Cimzia or Humira may increase your risk for developing certain types of cancer. These include lymphomas and skin cancers. In some cases, these cancers may lead to death. Rare types of cancer have been reported in children and adolescents taking tumor necrosis factor blockers, such as Cimzia and Humira. Keep in mind that Cimzia isn’t approved for use in anyone younger than 18 years.

Before you start taking Cimzia or Humira, tell your doctor if you’ve ever been diagnosed with cancer. They can advise you on the right treatment plan for you.

Other warnings

In addition to boxed warnings, Cimzia and Humira have other warnings.

Before using Cimzia or Humira, talk with your doctor if any of the following conditions or health factors apply to you:

To learn more about these drugs, see the in-depth articles on Cimzia and Humira.

You might consider switching between Cimzia and Humira for the following reasons:

  • Your symptoms aren’t managed well enough. If you’re taking Cimzia or Humira and the drug isn’t managing your symptoms well enough, it’s possible that the other drug won’t work well for you either. This is because both Cimzia and Humira work in the same way. Your doctor may still recommend that you try the other drug. Or they may recommend a drug from a different class instead.
  • The drug stops working over time. If Cimzia or Humira manages your symptoms to begin with but stops working for you over time, it could be worth switching to the other drug. Sometimes these drugs can become less effective because your body starts making antibodies against them. This can keep the medication from working. In this case, switching drugs may solve the problem.
  • You have bothersome side effects. Your doctor may recommend switching between Cimzia and Humira if one drug works well for you, but you have bothersome side effects. Although these drugs can cause similar side effects, each drug may affect you in a slightly different way. In some cases, your doctor may recommend trying a drug from a different class instead.

If you’re interested in switching between Cimzia and Humira, discuss this with your doctor. They can recommend the best course of action based on your personal situation.

When a switch may occur

If your doctor does recommend switching between Cimzia and Humira, they may suggest doing so when your next injection is due. Or, they may recommend waiting until the first drug is fully removed from your system before you start taking the other. Exactly how you switch treatment will depend on several factors. These include how severe your symptoms are and the reason for changing treatments.

Note: Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions, and don’t switch treatments without their approval and guidance.

Cimzia and Humira are both tumor necrosis factor blockers used to treat:

Talk with your doctor if you’ve been diagnosed with one of these conditions, and you’re interested in taking Cimzia or Humira. They can recommend whether one of these drugs or a different treatment may be right for you.

In general, these drugs are very similar. Some key points to remember when comparing them include:

  • Cimzia isn’t approved for use in children younger than age 18 years. Humira, on the other hand, is approved to treat Crohn’s disease in children ages 6 years and older. Humira is also approved to treat a type of arthritis called juvenile idiopathic arthritis in children ages 2 years and older.
  • Humira is typically used once every 2 weeks. It may be possible to use Cimzia once every 2 weeks or once every 4 weeks.

If you’d like to learn more about Cimzia or Humira, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can help answer questions you have about the similarities, differences, and effectiveness of the drugs.

Note: For more information on some of the conditions Cimzia and Humira treat, see our article lists on psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

Disclaimer: Medical News Today has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.