Munson Health
Medications for Rheumatoid Arthritis

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by Carson-DeWitt R
The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medications listed below. Only the most general side effects are included. Ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medications only as recommended by your doctor and according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your doctor.
You may have to try different medications before you find the one that works best for you with the least number of side effects.

Prescription Medications

  • Naproxen (Naprosyn, Anaprox, Aleve)
  • Ketoprofen (Orudis)
  • Ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil, Nuprin)
  • Indomethacin (Indocin)
  • Sulindac (Clinoril)
  • Meclofenamate (Meclomen)
  • Ketorolac (Toradol)
  • Piroxicam (Feldene)
  • Diclofenac sodium (Voltaren, Cataflam)
  • Celecoxib (Celebrex)
  • Meloxicam (Mobic)
  • Azathioprine (Imuran)
  • Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan)
  • Cyclosporin
  • D-penicillamine (Depen)
  • Hydroxychloroquine sulfate (Plaquenil)
  • Leflunomide (Arava)
  • Methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall )
  • Sulfasalazine (Azulfidine)
  • TNF-inhibitors
  • Interleukin-1 receptor blockers
  • Biologic response modifier and disease-modifying antirheumatic drug
  • Monoclonal antibody
  • Interleukin-6 receptor antagonist
  • Prednisone (Deltasone, Cortan)
  • Methylprednisolone (Medrol)

Over the counter Medications

Prescription Medications

  Biologic Response Modifiers
Common names include:
  • Tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-inhibitors, such as:
    • Etanercept (Enbrel)—restricted in the US
    • Infliximab (Remicade)
    • Adalimumab (Humira)
    • Golimumab (Simponi)
    • Certolizumab (Cimzia)
  • Interleukin-1 receptor inhibitors—Anakinra (Kineret)
  • Biologic response modifier and disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD)—Abatacept (Orencia)
  • Monoclonal antibody—Rituximab (Rituxan)
  • Interleukin-6 receptor antagonist—Tocilizumab (Actemra)
Before you start taking any of these medications, you will need a tuberculosis (TB) test to make sure you do not have a hidden case of tuberculosis. You will need to have your heart monitored while you take this medication. Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you develop any of the following symptoms after receiving one of these medications:
  • Chest pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fever and chills
  • Productive cough
  • Itching
  • Hives
  • Flushed face
  • Rashes
  • Confusion
  • Weakness
  • Injection site reactions


Rheumatoid arthritis. Arthritis Foundation website. Available at: Accessed August 21, 2013.

Rheumatoid arthritis. National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases website. Available at: Updated April 2009. Accessed August 21, 2013.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated July 2, 2013. Accessed August 21, 2013.

11/4/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers (marketed as Remicade, Enbrel, Humira, Cimzia, and Simponi). US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: Updated August 31, 2009. Accessed August 21, 2013.

12/31/2009 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. Anis A, Zhang W, et al. The effect of etanercept on work productivity in patients with early active rheumatoid arthritis: results from the COMET study. Rheumatology (Oxford) 2009;48:1283-1289.

1/29/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance. FDA approves new drug for rheumatoid arthritis. US Food and Drug Administration website. Available at: Updated January 11, 2010. Accessed August 21, 2013.


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