IBD Awareness

Humira: An Honest Review

What is Humira? Humira (adalimumab) is a prescription, biologic medication in the form of an injection. Humira actually treats many different inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis (RA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA), ankylosing spondylitis (AS), Crohn’s disease (CD), ulcerative colitis (UC), and some eye infections. It comes in the form of both a pen injector and a syringe. You can choose to inject into your thigh or your stomach. Humira should be stored in a refrigerator and kept cold at all times. It binds to TNF alpha, an inflammation-causing protein in our bodies, and blocks its interaction with other cells. It can also lower your ability to fight immune system infections, which is why patients on Humira should take precautions with COVID.

My Humira pen and sharps container

After I had two failed courses of steroids in 2019, two new treatment options were presented to me. One was a fecal microbiota transplant procedure and the other option was starting Humira. I had heard of Humira before from all the commercials on TV, but never really knew it was a self-injection medication. At first, I cringed at both of these options. I did not want to do either. If I did the procedure, there was a high chance it would not work. If I started Humira, I would have to stay on it for the rest of my life and accept the risk of serious infection or cancer. I weighed the options for about a month and finally came to the conclusion to start taking Humira.

I started Humira in August 2019 on a bi-weekly schedule. The medication is shipped to my house since it is a specialty drug and cannot be made at a local pharmacy. Getting my insurance to approve the medication took FOREVER and I am sure other IBD patients can relate to this. They say that you can see an improvement in symptoms after four weeks of taking the drug. In my case, I saw initial improvement but a gradual decline after four weeks. In January 2020, I increased my dosage to weekly and began seeing the improvement I was looking for.

Humira is extremely convenient in that the medication is mailed to your house and you can do the injection at any time in the comfort of your home. My injection days are Fridays and I always set aside ten minutes in my morning to prepare for my injection. The only side effects I noticed when I first started the medication were fatigue and aches in my legs that lasted the day. Now that I have been on the medication for almost two years, I do not get these side effects anymore. I occasionally get injection site reactions like itchiness and redness, but this is tolerable. Humira also has a support program with Nurse Ambassadors and Resource Specialists that call me each month to check in on me. They help answer questions I may have about injecting and give me a savings card to help pay for the drug (without insurance this drug is VERY expensive!). This level of support and care has been so helpful during my Humira journey.

For me, Humira has been a lifesaver. If I had not started the medication, I would not be where I am today. I know biologics do not work for everyone and it takes time to find the right one for you, but I got lucky. Humira has controlled my symptoms and given me my life back. I have heard stories that after a couple years of taking a biologic, your body can reject it. I understand this may be a possibility, but until then I am going to enjoy the life I have with Humira as my sidekick. I trust that the drug will keep and maintain remission so long as I am putting in the extra work to reduce my stress, exercise, sleep and eat well.

So if Humira is presented to you as an option, I would say yes you should consider it. Gentle reminder that this drug does not work for everyone. Biologics are tricky in that each one targets something different in your body. You have to assess your needs first as a patient and then determine which drug will target those needs specifically. Do not be afraid to take the leap of faith in starting a biologic either. These drugs are helping us get closer to finding a cure.

If you take Humira, what do you think? Have you noticed any positive or negative changes since you started taking it? I would love to hear your perspective!

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