Ustekinumab – Frequently asked Questions & Answers
This information has been provided with kind permission from Crohn’s and Colitis UK – a nationwide charity committed to providing information and support, funding crucial research and working to improve healthcare services for anyone affected by Inflammatory Bowel Disease.
For further information please download the full patient publication from Crohn’s and Colitis UK
OTHER NAMES FOR THIS MEDICINE
Ustekinumab is sometimes known by the brand name ‘Stelara’.
WHY AM I BEING TREATED WITH USTEKINUMAB?
Ustekinumab is used to treat moderate to severe active Crohn’s Disease in adults. You may be given ustekinumab if other treatments, including other biological drugs such as adalimumab or infliximab, have not worked or have caused major side effects.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
Ustekinumab belongs to a group of medicines called ‘biological drugs’. Biological drugs are produced by a biological, rather than chemical, process. Ustekinumab is a synthetic (man-made) antibody that is created inside living cells. Ustekinumab is an anti-Interleukin biological drug. It targets two proteins in the body called interleukin-12 (IL-12) and interleukin-23 (IL-23). IL-12 and IL-23 are naturally produced in the body to help fight infections by temporarily causing inflammation. IL-12 and IL-23 are increased in IBD and contribute to the ongoing, or chronic, inflammation in the digestive system. Ustekinumab binds to both IL-12 and IL-23 which prevents them from working, helping to relieve inflammation and symptoms. Ustekinumab is known as an ‘immunosuppressant’ because it dampens down the activity of the immune system.
HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE TO WORK?
Everyone responds differently when taking a new medicine, and ustekinumab doesn’t work for everyone. You may feel better as early as three weeks after taking ustekinumab, but most people who respond to ustekinumab start feeling better within six weeks. In some people it could take longer.
HOW LONG WILL I BE TAKING USTEKINUMAB ?
If you respond to ustekinumab and have no serious side effects, you may be put onto a planned course of treatment lasting up to a year, after which it may be extended. Your treatment plan will need to be reassessed at least every 12 months to check whether ongoing treatment with ustekinumab is right for you. If you are in stable remission, it may be decided that you can stop taking ustekinumab. But If after stopping treatment you become unwell again, you should have the option to restart. You may be taken off ustekinumab if you have any serious side effects or if you have not responded well enough within 16 weeks of starting your treatment.
HOW AND WHEN DO I TAKE USTEKINUMAB?
The first dose of ustekinumab is given in hospital as a drip into a vein in your arm – an intravenous (IV) infusion. The next dose is given as an injection under the skin – a subcutaneous injection 8 weeks later. You will then have further injections every 8 or 12 weeks. Your doctor will decide whether you will need to take ustekinumab every 8 weeks or every 12 weeks.
WHAT IS THE NORMAL DOSAGE?
The first dose of ustekinumab is approximately 6mg for every kg you weigh given as a drip into a vein in your arm, an intravenous (IV) infusion. All following doses are 90mg regardless of what your weight is, and these are all given as an injection under the skin (subcutaneously).
HOW EFFECTIVE IS USTEKINIMAB?
Ustekinumab can be effective in improving symptoms and in bringing about and maintaining remission in people with moderate to severe Crohn’s Disease. This means that the inflammation in your gut is effectively reduced and your symptoms go away or significantly improve. Studies show that around half of those treated benefit from taking ustekinumab. Taking ustekinumab may also mean you no longer have to take steroids.
DOES USTEKINUMAB AFFECT FERTILITY OR PREGNANCY?
The effects of ustekinumab on fertility are not yet known. Although ustekinumab did not appear to affect fertility in animal studies, the effect on human fertility has not been studied. Taking ustekinumab while pregnant is not recommended as the effects of ustekinumab during pregnancy and on the unborn baby are unknown. If you are a woman who could get pregnant, you should use effective contraception while taking ustekinumab, and keep using it for at least 15 weeks after your last dose. If you are planning a pregnancy, please discuss this with your IBD team first, and if your pregnancy is unplanned, notify your IBD team as soon as possible.
For further, more detailed information please download the full patient publication from Crohn’s and Colitis UK
This information is designed to answer common questions you may have if you have been given azathioprine or mercaptopurine to treat your Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis, the two main forms of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). It is not intended to replace specific advice from your own doctor or any other health professional. You can obtain further information from your doctor, pharmacist, the information leaflet supplied with your medication or from the website: http://www.medicines.org.uk
© Crohn’s and Colitis UK 2018