Introduction

If you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA), you’re all too familiar with the kind of pain and joint stiffness that can make even getting out of bed in the morning a struggle. Enbrel and Humira are two drugs that might help. Take a look at what these drugs do and how they stack up against each other.

Enbrel and Humira

Enbrel and Humira are prescription drugs used to treat RA. Both of these drugs are tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers. TNF is a protein your immune system makes that contributes to inflammation and joint damage. Enbrel and Humira block the action of TNF that leads to damage from abnormal inflammation. Besides RA, both Enbrel and Humira also treat:

  • Juvenile idiopathic arthritis
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Plaque psoriasis

Humira also treats:

  • Crohn’s disease
  • Ulcerative colitis
  • Hidradenitis suppurativa

Drug features side by side

Enbrel and Humira work in the same way to treat RA. Many of their features are the same. Some are slightly different. You may find these differences make one drug more suited to your lifestyle or medical history. It’s good to know the similarities and differences when you talk to your doctor about your treatment options. The following table highlights the features of these two drugs.

EnbrelHumira
What is the generic name of this drug?etanerceptadalimumab
Is a generic version available?nono
What form does this drug come in?injectable solutioninjectable solution
What strengths does this drug come in?• 50-mg single-use prefilled syringe
• 50-mg single-use prefilled SureClick Autoinjector
• 25-mg single-use prefilled syringe
• 40-mg/0.8 mL single-use prefilled pen
• 40-mg/0.4 mL single-use prefilled pen
• 40-mg/0.8 mL single-use prefilled syringe
• 40-mg/0.4 mL single-use prefilled syringe
• 20-mg/0.4 mL single-use prefilled syringe
• 10-mg/0.2 mL single-use prefilled syringe
How often is this drug usually taken?once per weekonce every other week

You may find that the SureClick Autoinjector and prefilled pens are easier and more convenient to use than prefilled syringes. They require fewer steps. They all cost about the same, too.

Drug storage

You store Enbrel and Humira the same way:

  • In the original carton to protect from light or physical damage
  • In a refrigerator at a temperature between 36°F and 46°F (2°C and 8°C) or, when traveling, at room temperature (68–77°F or 20–25°C) for up to 14 days
    • After 14 days at room temperature, throw the drug away. Do not put it back in the refrigerator.
    • Do not freeze the drug or use if it has frozen and then thawed

Cost, availability, and insurance

Enbrel and Humira are only available as brand-name drugs and they cost about the same. GoodRx.com can give you a more specific idea about their current, exact costs.

Many insurance providers require a prior authorization from your doctor for both Enbrel and Humira before they will cover and pay for these drugs. Check with your insurance company or pharmacy to see if you need a prior authorization for Enbrel or Humira. Your pharmacy can actually help you with the paperwork if authorization is needed.

Most pharmacies carry both Enbrel and Humira. However, it’s a good idea to call your pharmacy in advance to make sure your drug is in stock.

Side effects

Enbrel and Humira belong to the same drug class. As a result, they have similar side effects. Some of the more common side effects include:

  • Reaction at the injection site
  • Sinus infection
  • Headache

More serious side effects can include:

  • Increased risk of cancer
  • Nervous system problems
  • Blood problems
  • New or worsening heart failure
  • New or worsening psoriasis
  • Allergic reactions
  • Autoimmune reactions

Check out the following links for more detailed information about the side effects of Enbrel and Humira.

Drug interactions

Always let your doctor know about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you’re taking. This can help your doctor prevent possible drug interactions, which can change the way your drug works. Interactions can be harmful or prevent the drugs from working well.

Enbrel and Humira interact with some of the same drugs. Using either Enbrel or Humira with the following vaccines and drugs increases your risk of infection:

  • Live vaccines, such as:
    • varicella and varicella zoster (chickenpox) vaccines
    • herpes zoster (shingles) vaccines
    • FluMist (intranasal spray for the flu)
    • the measles, mumps, and rubella vaccine
  • Certain cancer drugs such as cyclophosphamide and methotrexate
  • Certain other RA drugs such as sulfasalazine
  • Certain drugs that are processed by a protein called cytochrome p450, including:
  • Use with other medical conditions

    If you have hepatitis B virus infection, taking Enbrel or Humira could make your infection active. That means you could start to have symptoms of your infection, such as fatigue, lack of appetite, yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes, and pain on the right side of your stomach. The active infection can also lead to liver failure and death. Your doctor will test your blood to make sure you do not have hepatitis B virus infection before you receive either of these drugs.

    Talk with your doctor

    Enbrel and Humira are very similar drugs. They’re equally effective at relieving the symptoms of RA. However, there are slight differences between them, some of which might make one more convenient for you to use. Knowing a little more about these two drugs can help you talk with your doctor to find out if either of them is an option for you.