Remicade is a prescription brand-name medication. It’s approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat the following conditions:

Regardless of what condition you take Remicade for, the drug is typically meant to be used as a long-term treatment.

Here are some fast facts on Remicade:

  • Active ingredient: infliximab, which is a biologic
  • Drug class: tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) inhibitors
  • Drug form: powder mixed with a liquid solution that’s given as an intravenous (IV) infusion

Like other drugs, Remicade can cause side effects. Read on to learn about potential common, mild, and serious side effects. For a general overview of Remicade, see this article.

Remicade can cause certain side effects, some of which are more common than others. These are just a few of the more common side effects reported by people who took Remicade in clinical studies:

These side effects are usually 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.

Mild side effects can occur with Remicade use. This list doesn’t include all possible mild side effects of the drug. For more information, refer to Remicade’s medication guide.

Mild side effects of Remicade can include:

These side effects are usually 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.

Note: After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a drug, it tracks side effects of the medication. If you develop a side effect while taking Remicade and want to tell the FDA about it, visit MedWatch.

Remicade may cause serious side effects, although this isn’t common. The list below may not include all possible serious side effects of the drug. For more information, refer to the Remicade Medication Guide.

If you develop serious side effects while taking Remicade, call your doctor right away. If the side effects seem life threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number.

Serious side effects and their symptoms can include:

  • Infusion reactions, which usually occur during or soon after an infusion. Symptoms can include:
    • trouble breathing
    • chest pain
    • rash or itchy skin
  • Abnormal heart rhythm. Symptoms can include:
    • fast, slow, or fluttering heart rate
    • a pounding feeling in your chest
  • Heart attack. Symptoms can include:
    • chest pain
    • feeling lightheaded
    • fainting
    • nausea or vomiting
    • shortness of breath
  • Stroke. Symptoms can include:
    • confusion
    • trouble understanding others
    • dizziness
    • trouble seeing or an inability to see out of one or both eyes
    • trouble speaking, standing, or walking
    • weakness on one side of the body
    • severe headache
  • Nervous system disorders, such as seizures or problems with vision. Symptoms can include:
    • numbness or tingling in body parts
    • vision changes, such as changes in how you see colors
    • weakness in your arms or legs
  • Blood disorders, such as low level of white blood cells. Symptoms can include:
    • bleeding or bruising easily
    • fever lasting longer than 48 hours
    • getting frequent infections
    • pale skin
  • Heart failure (see “Side effect specifics” below)
  • Lupus-like syndrome (see “Side effect specifics” below)
  • Liver damage (see “Side effect specifics” below)
  • Serious infections (see “Side effect specifics” below)*
  • Cancer (see “Side effect specifics” below)*

* Remicade has boxed warnings for serious infections and cancer. A boxed warning is a more serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). For details, see the “Side effect specifics” section below.

Remicade is approved to treat Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis in adults as well as children ages 6 years and older. Some side effects occurred more often in children than adults in clinical studies of the drug. These side effects included:

During your child’s Remicade treatment and afterward, their doctor will monitor them for the above side effects.

Remicade may cause several side effects. Here are some frequently asked questions about the drug’s side effects and their answers.

Does Remicade cause side effects linked to teeth?

Remicade didn’t cause side effects linked to teeth in people who took the drug in clinical studies.

But keep in mind that Remicade may make you more likely to develop an infection. This includes infections that could be caused by dental procedures.

If you’re planning to have a dental procedure during your Remicade treatment, talk with your dentist and doctor. They can give you tips on good dental hygiene and how to help prevent oral infections.

How long do Remicade’s side effects last? Does Remicade cause long-term side effects?

It’s not known how long Remicade’s side effects last. But the drug may cause some long-term side effects. They may differ based on what you’re taking Remicade for and other drugs you may be using.

There have been some safety concerns regarding the use of Remicade over the long-term, including:

If you’re taking Remicade and are wondering about long-term side effects, talk with your doctor. If you have side effects that persist and don’t go away, be sure to let your doctor know. They’ll work to determine the best treatment for your condition.

Is hair loss a side effect of Remicade?

Remicade didn’t cause hair loss in people who took the medication in clinical studies.

However, hair loss has been reported in people who took other tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) inhibitors. (Remicade is a type of TNF-alpha inhibitor.)

Also, some people who took Remicade developed new or worsening psoriasis. If psoriasis forms on the scalp, it can lead to hair loss.

If you’re concerned about losing hair while taking Remicade, talk with your doctor. They may recommend topical treatments to reduce hair loss from psoriasis. (A topical treatment is put right on the skin.)

Does Remicade cause weight gain?

Maybe. In the first clinical studies of Remicade, people who took the drug didn’t report weight gain. But there have been small studies, such as this one, in which Remicade was linked to gaining weight. More information is needed before it can be said for sure whether or not Remicade causes weight gain.

Keep in mind that sudden and unexplained weight gain can be a symptom of new or worsening heart failure.

If you’re taking Remicade and have concerns about gaining weight, talk with your doctor. They can advise you on healthy ways to help manage your weight.

Learn more about some of the side effects Remicade may cause.

Heart failure

New cases of heart failure weren’t reported in Remicade clinical studies, but they have occurred rarely since the drug was approved. When Remicade was given to people with existing heart failure in these studies, the drug tended to make the condition worse.

Heart failure is a condition in which your heart doesn’t pump blood as well as it should. This can cause edema (fluid buildup in your body), especially in your hands, feet, and lower legs. Other symptoms of heart failure can include:

  • sudden weight gain
  • trouble breathing
  • tiredness
  • changes in heart rate

What you can do

If you have symptoms of heart failure, talk with your doctor right away. If they confirm that the side effect is due to Remicade, they’ll likely have you stop taking the drug and suggest a new treatment for your condition.

Lupus-like syndrome

Lupus-like syndrome was reported as a side effect in clinical trials of Remicade, but it wasn’t common. The syndrome is an immune system reaction that can cause symptoms similar to those of lupus.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease, which means your body’s immune system cells mistakenly target your own tissues and organs. Lupus can cause inflammation (damage and swelling) and pain anywhere in the body.

Symptoms of lupus-like syndrome may appear months or even years after you begin taking Remicade.

Symptoms can include:

  • chest pain or discomfort
  • joint pain
  • rashes on the arms or cheeks that may get worse in sunlight
  • shortness of breath

What you can do

If you develop lupus-like syndrome, your doctor will likely recommend that you stop taking Remicade. As a result, the symptoms usually go away within weeks or months.

Liver damage

The use of Remicade may cause liver damage, but it occurred rarely in clinical trials. In some cases, this side effect led to liver failure, liver transplant, and, in a few instances, death.

Symptoms of liver damage can include:

  • jaundice (yellowing of your skin or the white of your eyes)
  • pain in the right side of your abdomen (belly)
  • dark urine
  • nausea or vomiting
  • fever
  • extreme tiredness

What you can do

If you have symptoms of liver damage while taking Remicade, talk with your doctor right away. This side effect can become serious, and they’ll want to examine you further. Your doctor may have you stop taking Remicade and switch to a different treatment for your condition.

Serious infections

Remicade has a boxed warning for serious infections. A boxed warning is a more serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Taking Remicade can increase your risk for serious infections.

The infections are the same as the ones that some people taking Remicade developed in clinical trials:

Serious infections were rare, but at times these infections led to hospital stays, and in a few cases, death.

In the trials, some people taking Remicade were also using medications that affect the immune system. These drugs included methotrexate (Trexall) and corticosteroids. Other people took Remicade alone. More people in the group receiving immune system drugs developed infections than people in the group receiving Remicade alone.

Before you start taking Remicade, your doctor will order tests to check for the infections mentioned above. They’ll continue to monitor you for TB during your treatment. If you develop a serious infection while taking Remicade, they’ll advise you to stop using the medication.

Symptoms of serious infections

Symptoms of a serious infection can include:

  • cough that won’t go away
  • loss of appetite
  • fever
  • flu-like symptoms, such as muscle aches and a runny nose
  • rash
  • extreme tiredness

What you can do

Talk with your doctor if you notice symptoms of an infection. These can include mild versions of the symptoms mentioned above. Your doctor can order tests to determine the type of infection. Your doctor can also recommend treatment for your symptoms and the infection itself to help prevent it from becoming serious.

If you develop a serious infection while taking Remicade, your doctor will have you stop taking the medication. They’ll also treat the infection. Once the infection clears up, your doctor can help you decide whether to keep taking Remicade or switch to a different medication.

You can also take steps to help lower your risk for infection. They include:

  • Wash your hands often using soap and warm water.
  • Don’t share personal items, such as your cell phone, wash cloth, or toothbrush.
  • Avoid touching your face, especially your mouth, nose, and eyes.

Cancer

Remicade has a boxed warning for cancer. A boxed warning is a more serious warning from the FDA.

Remicade is a type of drug called a tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) inhibitor. People who have taken Remicade or other TNF-alpha inhibitors have reported developing new cancers. In some instances, the cancer was fatal in children and teenagers. The reports are from clinical trials and since Remicade was approved. However, it isn’t known for sure whether Remicade (or the other TNF-alpha inhibitor) caused the cancer.

Types of the new cancers included:

One of the kinds of lymphomas is called hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma. It usually occurred in teenage or young adult males with Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis. Almost all of these males were using the medications azathioprine (Imuran, Azasan) or 6-mercaptopurine (Purixan, Purinethol) with a TNF-alpha inhibitor.

Symptoms of these new cancers can include bone pain, swelling in your lymph nodes, and fatigue (a lack of energy).

Certain people may be at a greater risk of developing cancer while taking Remicade, including:

What you can do

Before taking Remicade, be sure to talk with your doctor about your complete medical history and all the medications you take. They’ll work with you to determine your cancer risk. They can also discuss symptoms of cancers you may be at higher risk for. Your doctor can instruct you on any symptoms to watch for that would require an appointment.

Keep in mind that your doctor will also screen you for cancer during your Remicade treatment and afterward.

Allergic reaction

As with most drugs, Remicade can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Symptoms can be mild or serious and can include:

  • rash
  • itching
  • flushing (warmth, swelling, or redness in your skin)
  • swelling under your skin, typically in your lips, eyelids, feet, or hands
  • swelling of your mouth, tongue, or throat, which can make it hard to breathe

What you can do

For mild symptoms of an allergic reaction, call your doctor right away. They may recommend ways to ease your symptoms and help determine whether you should keep taking Remicade. But if your symptoms are serious and you think you’re having a medical emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number.

Remicade has warnings that may affect whether you can use the medication safely. Read on to learn more.

Boxed warnings

Remicade has boxed warnings about serious infections and cancer. These are serious warnings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

  • Serious infections. Taking Remicade can increase your risk for serious infection, which could result in a hospital stay and, rarely, death. Before starting Remicade treatment, your doctor will order tests to check for certain infections. To learn more about the risk of infection, see the “Side effect specifics” section above.
  • Cancer. Remicade is a type of drug called a tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) inhibitor. People who have taken Remicade or other TNF-alpha inhibitors have reported developing new cancers. To learn more, see the “Side effect specifics” section above.

Other precautions

Be sure to talk with your doctor about your health history before you take Remicade. This drug may not be the right treatment for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. The conditions and factors to consider include the following:

Allergic reaction. You shouldn’t take Remicade If you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to Remicade or any of its ingredients. Talk with your doctor about what other treatments are better choices for you.

Blood disorders. Certain blood disorders, such as leukopenia, have occurred in people taking Remicade. In rare cases, the disorders have led to death. If you had or have a blood disorder, talk with your doctor before using Remicade. During your treatment, they’ll monitor you to see whether the blood disorder returns or gets worse.

Hepatitis B. If you’ve had a hepatitis B virus infection, taking Remicade can cause it to become reactivated (active again). Before you begin Remicade treatment, you’ll be tested for hepatitis B. If you have it, your doctor will monitor you for symptoms while you take Remicade.

Current infection. If you currently have an infection, talk with your doctor because you shouldn’t take Remicade. The drug can weaken your immune system, making it harder for your body to fight the infection. The infection will typically need to be treated and clear up before you can begin taking Remicade.

Liver damage. Some people who have taken Remicade have had severe liver damage. In rare cases, this led to liver failure, liver transplant, and, at times, death. If you have any liver problems, be sure your doctor knows about them before you start taking Remicade. The drug could worsen the problems. While you use Remicade, your doctor will monitor your liver function.

Cancer. Some people have developed cancer, such as breast cancer, while using Remicade. If you have a history of cancer, talk with your doctor. They can advise you on the pros and cons of the medication.

Heart failure. If you have heart failure that’s moderate or severe, some doses of Remicade may not be safe for you to take. Before you start Remicade treatment, talk with your doctor. Tell them if you have a history of heart failure or other heart problems before you start taking Remicade. They can advise you on the pros and cons of the medication.

Nervous system reactions. If you have a history of nervous system problems, such as seizures or multiple sclerosis, talk with your doctor before using Remicade. The drug may worsen these problems, so your doctor will monitor you during your treatment.

Serious infusion reactions. Serious brain, heart, and blood vessel problems can occur while receiving a Remicade infusion or hours later. Examples of these problems include heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, and low blood pressure. If you have a history of serious infusion reactions or cardiovascular or brain problems, talk with your doctor before using Remicade. They’ll want to closely monitor you both during and after your infusions.

Alcohol use with Remicade

Although there aren’t known interactions between drinking alcohol and taking Remicade, alcohol can weaken your immune system. It can also damage your liver. A weakened immune system and liver damage are both potential side effects of Remicade. Drinking alcohol while taking Remicade may increase your risk for these side effects.

Talk with your doctor about how much alcohol, if any, is safe for you to consume while taking Remicade.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding while taking Remicade

It isn’t known if Remicade is safe to take while pregnant or breastfeeding. The drug hasn’t been studied during pregnancy and should be taken only if the benefits outweigh the risks. Also, it isn’t known whether the drug passes into human breast milk.

If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, or thinking about breastfeeding, talk with your doctor. They can advise you on whether Remicade is right for you.

Remicade is approved to treat several different conditions. Regardless of the condition the drug is used to treat, Remicade may cause common mild side effects, such as headache and belly pain. More of these may go away within a few days or weeks.

Remicade may also cause some rare, but more serious, side effects. If you have symptoms of heart failure, lupus, cancer, or immune system reactions, talk with your doctor right away. They’ll want to evaluate you further and may have you try a different medication for your condition.

If you have questions about potential side effects from taking Remicade, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

For more information on the conditions that Remicade is used to treat, refer to the following:

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.