Etanercept (Enbrel)

What is it?

Etanercept is a Disease Modifying Anti Rheumatic Drug (DMARD), one of the new class called biologic response modifiers.

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FDA approved:

November 1998

Average annual cost:


Brand Names and International Availability:

Enbrel (US), has just been approved for use in Europe and United States.

How does it work?

Designed specifically to treat inflammatory arthritis, it works by binding to the tumor necrosis factor, which is a key player in the inflammation inflammatory arthritis. Like a sponge soaking up excess water, Etanercept soaks up excess tumour necrosis factor resulting in less inflammation.


Etanercept is available in 25mg vials for injection. The injections are given twice weekly and may be self injected after proper instruction is given.

How should I take it?

Mix and inject the medication following the enclosed instructions. The injection is given under the skin. Injection sites should be rotated to avoid irritation.


This medication should not be used in persons with an infection or a history of systemic infections.

Drugs Interactions:

Specific drug interaction studies have not been conducted with Etanercept.

There are no studies in pregnancy and/or nursing mothers. Use only if the benefit outweighs the unknown risk.

Possible side effects:

These side effects are not considered serious but are certainly annoying for those experiencing them.

The most frequently reported side effects include injection site redness, swelling and itching, headache, and dizziness.

More serious side effects that you should report right away include cough or congestion, sinusitis, fever and any other signs or infection.

The drug is relatively new, so long term side effects may not yet be known.

Precautions & Special Notes:

Etanercept has been noted to increase the chance of serious infection. Report any and all signs of infection right away.

Etanercept must be kept refrigerated.

For more information:

RxList: Etanercept
Enbrel Info
Pharm Info Net Etanercept

Mosby’s GenRx?, 10th ed. Copyright ? 2000 Mosby, Inc.