Cosentyx (secukinumab) and Humira (adalimumab) are prescription medications used to treat certain inflammatory conditions. These include plaque psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis.
Both drugs are biologics (drugs made using living cells). They block overactive parts of your immune system, which is your body’s defense against disease. They reduce inflammation and control the symptoms of these conditions.
Cosentyx and Humira are both brand-name drugs. Cosentyx isn’t currently available in a biosimilar form. (A biosimilar is a medication that’s similar to a brand-name biologic drug.) Humira has several biosimilars, but these aren’t yet available in the United States.
This article highlights the key differences between Cosentyx and Humira. If you’ve received a diagnosis of psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, or ankylosing spondylitis, this information may help you and your doctor decide if one of these drugs is right for you.
Cosentyx contains the active drug secukinumab. Humira contains the active drug adalimumab. Both medications are monoclonal antibodies. These are drugs made from immune system cells. They act on specific proteins in your body.
Cosentyx belongs to a class of medications called interleukin-17A (IL-17A) blockers. Humira belongs to a class of medications called tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers. (A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way.)
Cosentyx and Humira have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat the following conditions.
- Both Cosentyx and Humira are FDA-approved to treat:
- moderate to severe plaque psoriasis in adults who may need phototherapy or systemic therapy (treatment that works throughout the body)
- active psoriatic arthritis in adults (“active” means that you currently have symptoms)
- active ankylosing spondylitis in adults
- Cosentyx is also FDA-approved to treat:
- Humira is also FDA-approved to treat:
- rheumatoid arthritis in adults
- juvenile idiopathic arthritis in children ages 2 years and older
- Crohn’s disease (a type of inflammatory bowel disease) in adults and children ages 6 years and older
- ulcerative colitis (a type of inflammatory bowel disease) in adults
- hidradenitis suppurativa (a painful skin condition) in adults and children ages 12 years and older
- uveitis (swelling in a part of your eye) in adults and children ages 2 years and older
Cosentyx and Humira contain different active drugs and work in different but similar ways. Therefore, these medications can cause some similar and some different side effects. Below are examples of these side effects.
Mild side effects
The following lists address some of the more common mild side effects of Cosentyx and Humira, as well as some that both drugs share based on clinical trial data. For more information on mild side effects of the two drugs, see Cosentyx’s medication guide and Humira’s medication guide.
- Can occur with Cosentyx:
- Can occur with Humira:
- reactions at the injection site, such as redness, rash, itching, swelling, or bruising
- Can occur with both Cosentyx and Humira:
- minor respiratory infections, such as the common cold
Serious side effects
The following lists address the serious side effects of Cosentyx and Humira, as well as some that both drugs share.
- Can occur with Cosentyx:
- Can occur with Humira:
- heart problems, such as new or worsening heart failure
- new or worsening neurological disorders, such as multiple sclerosis (MS)
- liver damage
- Can occur with both Cosentyx and Humira:
- serious allergic reactions
* Humira has boxed warnings 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 Cosentyx and Humira” section below.
Both Cosentyx and Humira are given as an injection just under your skin (subcutaneous). At first, your healthcare provider will give you these injections. But once they train you, you’ll be able to give yourself injections at home with a prefilled pen or syringe.
The dosage for either drug will depend on the treatment plan your doctor prescribes for you.
Here’s some information about the forms and dosages of Cosentyx.
Cosentyx comes in three forms, and each contains 150 milligrams per milliliter (mg/mL) of the drug:
- liquid solution in a single-use Sensoready pen
- liquid solution in a single-use prefilled syringe
- powder in a single-use vial*
For plaque psoriasis, you’ll have two injections every week for 5 weeks. After 5 weeks, you’ll have two injections once every 4 weeks.
For psoriatic arthritis, depending on how severe your condition is, your doctor may give you a loading dose. This is a higher dose of medication at the beginning of treatment so that the drug can start working more quickly. You’ll have an injection once a week for 5 weeks. After 5 weeks, you’d need an injection once every 4 weeks.
If your doctor doesn’t think that a loading dose is the right option for you, you can start with an injection once every 4 weeks.
If you have both plaque psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis, you’ll have the same dosage schedule as if you just have plaque psoriasis. See above for details.
For ankylosing spondylitis, the dosage schedule is the same as for psoriatic arthritis. See above for details.
* Only a healthcare provider can give you Cosentyx in this form. They’ll mix the powder with a solution and give you the injection.
Here’s some information about the forms and dosages of Humira.
Humira comes as a liquid solution in three forms:
- single-use prefilled pen that contains 40 milligrams (mg) or 80 mg of the drug
- single-use prefilled syringe that contains 10 mg, 20 mg, 40 mg, or 80 mg of the drug
- single-use vial* that contains 40 mg of the drug
For plaque psoriasis, you’ll have an injection once in the first week. Then, you’ll have an injection once every 2 weeks, starting 1 week after your first dose.
For psoriatic arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis, you’ll have an injection once every 2 weeks.
* Only a healthcare provider can give you Humira in this form.
Here are answers to some common questions about Cosentyx and Humira.
What are the rarer side effects of Cosentyx and Humira?
Serious side effects occur more rarely than mild side effects. To read about some of the rare but serious side effects of these drugs, see the “Side effects of Cosentyx vs. Humira” section above.
For more information on the possible side effects of Cosentyx and Humira, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can give you tips on how to deal with any side effects that may be bothersome.
Can Cosentyx and Humira be used together?
No, these drugs aren’t typically used together. If one of these drugs isn’t working for you, your doctor will usually recommend stopping treatment and trying a different drug instead.
Cosentyx and Humira may not be effective for some people. And these drugs may become less effective after you’ve taken them for a long time. But it’s possible to switch treatment from Cosentyx to Humira or vice versa.
Cosentyx and Humira work differently in your body, so if one drug isn’t controlling your symptoms, it’s possible that the other will. Switching treatment might also be an option if you have bothersome side effects with one of these drugs.
If you’re interested in switching from Cosentyx to Humira or vice versa, talk with your doctor. They can determine whether switching treatment is the right option for you. And if it is, they’ll suggest the best way to make the switch.
How your treatment is switched may depend on the reason for switching and the severity of your symptoms. Your doctor may simply switch you to the new treatment when your next dose is due. Or they may ask you to wait until one drug is fully removed from your system before you start the other.
Never switch treatments without your doctor’s approval and guidance.
How much Cosentyx 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 WellRx.com.
Both Cosentyx and Humira are brand-name drugs. Cosentyx isn’t currently available in a biosimilar form. (A biosimilar is a medication that’s similar to a brand-name biologic drug.) Humira has several biosimilars, but these aren’t yet available in the U.S.
Cosentyx and Humira have different FDA-approved uses, but they’re both used to treat plaque psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis. Both drugs have been found to be effective for these conditions.
Both drugs are recommended as treatment options for treating plaque psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis in guidelines from the National Psoriasis Foundation. They’re also recommended as treatment options for ankylosing spondylitis in guidelines from the American College of Rheumatology.
Cosentyx and Humira share some of the same warnings, but they also have different ones. Some of these warnings are mentioned below. Before you start using Cosentyx or Humira, be sure to talk with your doctor to see if these warnings apply to you.
Humira has boxed warnings for serious infections and cancer. Boxed warnings are the most serious warnings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). They alert doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.
Serious infections. Humira can raise your risk for serious infections that may need treatment in a hospital. In some cases, these infections can lead to death. Examples of such infections include sepsis (a blood infection), tuberculosis (TB), and invasive fungal infections. They also include infections that usually only affect people with weakened immune systems.
Your doctor will test you for TB before you start taking Humira. If you have TB, it’ll need to be treated before you start Humira. If you develop a serious infection while taking Humira, you’ll likely need to stop taking this drug.
Cancer. Some people taking Humira, including children and teenagers, have developed certain types of cancer. These include lymphoma (cancer of the white blood cells). Some of these cancers were fatal. A rare type of lymphoma called hepatosplenic T cell lymphoma occurred mostly in young adults and teenage males with inflammatory bowel disease.
In addition to the boxed warnings for Humira above, Cosentyx and Humira have other warnings.
If any of the following medical conditions or other health factors are relevant to you, talk with your doctor before using Cosentyx or Humira.
- Warnings for Humira:
- hepatitis B reactivation (flare-up)
- heart failure
- nerve disorders, such as multiple sclerosis (MS)
- liver problems, such as liver failure
- Warnings for Cosentyx:
- Warnings for both Cosentyx and Humira:
- infections, including TB
If you’re interested in taking Cosentyx or Humira for plaque psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, or ankylosing spondylitis, talk with your doctor. They can help you decide if one of these two drugs, or another medication, is right for you. Discuss the information in this article as well as your full health history.
The key differences between Cosentyx and Humira lie in how often these drugs are taken and their possible side effects. Cosentyx is taken every 4 weeks, while Humira needs to be taken every 2 weeks. And Cosentyx causes fewer side effects, particularly serious side effects, than Humira.
But it’s also important to consider your health history. For example, if you have inflammatory bowel disease, taking Cosentyx could make it worse. On the other hand, Humira is approved to treat this condition.
If you’d like to learn more about Cosentyx or Humira, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can help answer any questions you have about taking either drug.
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.