So your GI doctor says to you, “I think we should use Remicade to treat your IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease). We can set you up to do convenient in-office infusions.” Your brain suddenly goes into overdrive. You have so many questions! What is Remicade? How is it given? What is an in-office infusion? What are the side effects? Don’t fret. Read on and you will find the answers to all of these questions, and more.
Remicade (Infliximab) is an immunosuppressive prescription drug used to treat autoimmune diseases, such as Crohn’s Disease, Ulcerative Colitis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, Psoriatic Arthritis and Anklylosing Spondylitis. This autoimmune response is caused by too much of a protein called tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) circulating in the body. High levels of this protein cause the body’s immune system to mistakenly attack and destroy cells in the body.
In the case of Ulcerative Colitis (UC), the attack occurs in the large intestines. In Crohn’s disease, the gastrointestinal tract from the mouth to the anus is assaulted causing inflammation. This can lead to symptoms of diarrhea, abdominal pain and GI bleeding. Remicade blocks the TNF-alpha protein produced by the immune system. This reduces inflammation and puts the Crohn’s and UC into remission. Remicade has been used to treat over 1 million patients with autoimmune diseases and has been studied for over 17 years.
Remicade is given by intravenous (IV) infusion, which means it is administered directly into a vein in the arm or hand. For over 10 years, Gastro Health has been performing safe, efficient and cost effective in-office Remicade infusions. The Remicade is administered by experienced infusion Registered Nurses who provide not only the treatment and patient education but also act as a patient advocate, helping the patient navigate through the healthcare system.
The infusion takes approximately two hours. The first three infusions (the induction doses) are given within a six-week period. After that, the maintenance infusions are every eight weeks. The physician can alter this schedule depending on the response to treatment. Most patients see symptom improvement after the first three infusions, but some patients see results after the very first infusion.
Upon arriving to the infusion center, the patient will be registered and escorted to the infusion room where there are comfortable lounge chairs. This can be a time to meet other people with a similar diagnosis, support each other and make new friends. A general health assessment will be performed along with the monitoring of vital signs. The dose of Remicade will be calculated by the RN based on the patient’s weight, and then an IV will be started in the hand or arm. The medication will be mixed once the IV has been started, and the IV bag containing the Remicade will be connected and infused via the IV. Vital signs will be monitored throughout the infusion. During the infusion and for a period of time afterwards, the nurse will also closely monitor for signs of any problems.
At the conclusion of the infusion, the IV will be removed from the arm or hand. The patient can schedule the next infusion prior to leaving the infusion center. The infusion is non-sedating, so once the infusion is complete the patient can enjoy the rest of their day.
Although the commitment to receiving Remicade infusions maybe long-term, most patients are very happy that they have this treatment available to them and have had significant improvement in their quality of life. So if your doctor recommends Remicade infusions, don’t fret – look forward to being taken care of in a supportive environment by your very own patient advocate, an opportunity to meet folks that have the same disease you have and most importantly, look forward to an improved quality of life.