Remicade, which is the brand name for the drug Infliximab, was recently approved for use in children by the FDA & a recent study shows positive outcomes can come from it’s use. However trustworthiness, warnings & lawsuits suggests that there are serious risks.

A recent study published in Gastroengology came to the conclusion that those taking Remicade treatments showed better outcomes & had less chances of needing surgery later, than those taking placebo. While this appears to be good news the trustworthiness of the study might come into question because many of researchers involved disclosed ties to pharmaceutical companies, including the manufacturer of Remicade which was also involved in funding the study.

The FDA also recently announced the approval of Remicade in children ages 6 & older. The approval does come with the stipulation that it be used in children with moderate to severe Ulcerative Colitis who are not responding to other treatment methods. The FDA has given Remicade & similar drugs like Humira “black box warnings” because of the risk of things like cancer, neurological damage & severe infection.

Remicade & Humira are considered Tumor Necrosis Factor(TNF) blockers, specifically TNF-alpha blockers. TNF is a signaling protein that is responsible for part of the immune system & inflammatory process. TNF blockers are derived antibodies, turning these drugs into almost mini-immune systems that seek out a specific target. While blocking TNF can help with inflammatory diseases, the side effects from blocking TNF obviously show that it’s not perfect. The immune system is very complex with many different signaling proteins working together. Future drugs will probably look at targeting different proteins or multiple proteins as well as trying to have a “gentler” overall touch. Due to the complexities involved with generating the antibodies for TNF blocking drugs, the drugs are very expensive costing tens of thousands of dollars per dose.

For many Remicade & Humira have been helpful, but some have been bitten by the serious side effects that they can cause. A woman in Montana sued the manufacturer of Humira over neurological damage to her feet. Recently a Tennessee man claimed Humira caused him to become susceptible to a severe fungal infection. The Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation of America also has a page with information on the cancer risks of TNF blocking drugs.

Those looking into TNF blocker drugs for themselves or someone else such as a child, should read up on the possible side effects & warnings before moving forward with treatment.