What is Abatacept?

Abatacept is a targeted disease modifying anti-rheumatic drug (DMARD) that is used to reduce inflammation produced by the body. In certain diseases the immune system is over active, this can target healthy tissues such as joints. Abatacept works on the inflammatory pathway to reduce the effects of cells called T cells, thereby reducing the symptoms you get from arthritis such as pain and joint swelling and reduces the chance of further damage to the joints.


What is Abatacept used for?

Abatacept is used for the treatments of inflammatory diseases such as:


How is it taken?

Abatacept can be taken in 2 ways and can be given alongside other DMARDs such as methotrexate, or taken on its own.


Subcutaneous injection

It can be taken as an injection into the layer of fat between the skin and muscle. This is called a subcutaneous injection and is usually given into the thigh or abdomen. It is given at a dose of 125mg once a week.

The injection device is available as a pen or prefilled syringe. It should be stored in the fridge at home.



It can also be given as an injection into the vein through a drip. This is called an intravenous infusion and is usually given in the rheumatology day unit. You will be monitored throughout and for 1-2 hours after this to make sure you have not developed and side effects.

Medications to prevent a reaction to the drip are given at the same time; these include steroids, paracetamol and anti-histamine.

The dose is calculated from your weight and it is given as a loading treatment initially, with infusions at 0, 2 and 4 weeks, it is then given every 4 weeks whilst you remain on the medication.


The medication can take up to 12 weeks to have an effect. When you first start taking it you will need your bloods monitored. This is done every 3 months if you are receiving the infusions and at 3 months and then annually if you are receiving the subcutaneous injections. However if you are also on another medication such as methotrexate, you will need to continue your blood monitoring for this.


If you symptoms are well controlled, your doses can be gradually reduced.



Side effects

There are a few possible side effects that can occur in a small number of people that take abatacept, these include:



Cautions of use

Interactions with other medications

Contraindications of other conditions


During pregnancy and breastfeeding




Useful Links

Versus Arthritis: http://www.versusarthritis.org