What is Enbrel?

Enbrel is a medicine that is made from two human proteins. It blocks the activity of another protein in the body that causes inflammation. Enbrel works by reducing the inflammation associated with certain diseases.

In adults (aged 18 and over), Enbrel can be used for moderate or severe rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, severe axial spondyloarthritis including ankylosing spondylitis, and moderate or severe psoriasis – in each case usually when other widely used treatments have not worked well enough or are not suitable for you.

For rheumatoid arthritis, Enbrel is usually used in combination with methotrexate, although it may also be used alone if treatment with methotrexate is unsuitable for you. Whether used alone or in combination with methotrexate, Enbrel can slow down the damage to your joints caused by the rheumatoid arthritis and improve your ability to do normal daily activities.

For psoriatic arthritis patients with multiple joint involvement, Enbrel can improve your ability to do normal daily activities. For patients with multiple symmetrical painful or swollen joints (e.g., hands, wrists and feet), Enbrel can slow down the structural damage to those joints caused by the disease.

Enbrel is also prescribed for the treatment of the following diseases in children and adolescents

  • For the following types of juvenile idiopathic arthritis when treatment with methotrexate has not worked well enough or is not suitable for them:
    • Polyarthritis (rheumatoid factor positive or negative) and extended oligoarthritis in patients from the age of 2 years
    • Psoriatic arthritis in patients from the age of 12 years
  • For enthesitis-related arthritis in patients from the age of 12 years when other widely used treatments have not worked well enough or are not suitable for them
  • Severe psoriasis in patients from the age of 6 years who have had an inadequate response to (or are unable to take) phototherapies or other systemic therapies.

How to use

Enbrel (etanercept) can be prescribed with various doses and methods of administration. Your doctor, nurse or pharmacist will have discussed this with you. For specific support you can refer to your patient information leaflet, patient pack or use the patient support website where you can register/login here.

Enbrel can usually be taken at home. If your doctor has decided that home treatment is suitable for you, you will be instructed by your doctor or his/her assistant on the techniques for self-injection or for giving an injection to a child.

Do not attempt to administer an injection until you are sure that you understand how to prepare and give the injection.

Side effects

As with all medications, side effects may occur. Common problems can include pain at the injection site, local itching and redness or bruising. Upper respiratory tract infections (cough and colds), bronchitis, cystitis and skin infections are also common.

Serious problems are rare, but make sure you contact your doctor in the following situations:

  • If you develop an infection, especially if there is a fever
  • If you have an allergic reaction, especially if you have:
    • Swelling in the face, throat or tongue
    • Trouble swallowing or breathing
  • Severe skin rash or hives
  • If you experience persistent fever, sore throat, bruising, bleeding or paleness

Please refer to the Enbrel patient information leaflet for the full list of side effects.

This leaflet can be downloaded here.

What if I need a treatment break?

The best way to control your condition may be to take Enbrel continuously over a long period of time. However, there are times when Enbrel must be stopped temporarily and then restarted.

Contact your doctor if you:

  • Need surgery or dental work (make sure you discuss it at least 3 weeks in advance)
  • Require a vaccination
  • Want to become pregnant

One of the advantages of taking Enbrel is that it doesn’t take very long to leave your system once you stop taking it (some medicines can take months). When you restart Enbrel again, make sure you follow your doctor’s advice on dosing and how often you should take it.

You might need to stop taking Enbrel if you get an infection. Contact your doctor or nurse if you feel unwell and think you might have an infection.

PP-ENB-GBR-0668. October 2017