Humira vs Prednisone

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For patients with autoimmune conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis or Crohn's disease, certain drugs that alter the body's immune response can help manage symptoms and control disease progression. Humira and Prednisone are two such medications often prescribed for these conditions. These drugs work differently within the body, but both aim to reduce inflammation and decrease immune system activity.

Humira is a biologic medication known as a TNF-alpha blocker, which works by targeting a specific protein in your body (tumor necrosis factor alpha) that causes inflammation. On the other hand, Prednisone is classified as a corticosteroid; it reduces inflammation by suppressing the immune system broadly rather than targeting one specific factor like Humira does.

These different therapeutic approaches do mean that they have differing side effect profiles and efficacy rates depending on individual patient factors.

What is Humira?

Adalimumab (the generic name for Humira) is a biologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD), which represented a significant advancement over the earlier class of DMARDs often referred to as synthetic DMARDs. Adalimumab was first approved by the FDA in 2002. It operates by blocking TNF alpha, a protein that plays a central role in inflammatory responses, effectively "trapping" it and preventing it from causing inflammation and damage to joints, skin, or other organs. Adalimumab is primarily prescribed for the treatment of various autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis. In contrast, prednisone is an oral corticosteroid used for suppressing the immune system and inflammation; although effective across various conditions like allergies, asthma and more severe diseases such as Lupus or Crohn's Disease. The widespread effects on different parts of the immune system make it potentially more likely to cause side effects than adalimumab which targets one specific aspect of immunity.

What conditions is Humira approved to treat?

Humira is approved for the treatment of several inflammatory conditions, including:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic disease causing pain, stiffness, swelling and loss of function in joints
  • Psoriatic arthritis, an inflammatory form of arthritis that can cause joint pain and damage
  • Ankylosing spondylitis, a type of spinal inflammation
  • Crohn's disease (moderate to severe), an inflammatory bowel disease
  • Ulcerative colitis (moderate to severe), another form of inflammatory bowel disease
  • Plaque psoriasis (moderate to severe) in adults who are candidates for systemic therapy or phototherapy.

How does Humira help with these illnesses?

Humira aids in the management of autoimmune disorders by decreasing the amount of tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-alpha) in your body. TNF-alpha is a protein created by your immune system that, when produced in excess or at inappropriate times, can trigger inflammation and damage tissues. Thus, Humira works by blocking the effects of this protein. Autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis are characterised by an overactive immune system attacking healthy cells as if they were harmful invaders, which leads to inflammation and tissue damage. By reducing TNF-alpha levels with Humira, patients can manage their condition more effectively and decrease symptoms such as pain, swelling or skin problems.

On the other hand, Prednisone is a corticosteroid that reduces inflammation throughout your body. This medication operates on wide-ranging pathways within your immune system to control many processes linked with inflammation. It's often used for conditions where rapid relief from severe inflammation is needed - such as acute arthritis flares or severe asthma attacks.

What is Prednisone?

Prednisone is a corticosteroid that functions as an immunosuppressant, serving to decrease inflammation by mimicking the natural effects of hormones your body produces. It was first approved for use by the FDA in 1955 and has been instrumental in treating numerous conditions such as asthma, lupus, arthritis, allergies, and even certain types of cancer. Unlike Humira which specifically targets TNF-alpha (a cytokine involved in systemic inflammation), Prednisone works broadly across the immune system. This broad action can be both beneficial and detrimental; while it may treat a wider range of conditions than Humira might be able to address effectively due to its specific target, this also means that Prednisone's side-effect profile is quite extensive - ranging from more common symptoms like weight gain or mood changes to severe reactions like osteoporosis or adrenal suppression with long-term use. Still, its efficacy cannot be denied especially for those who do not respond well to other treatments such as biologics like Humira.

What conditions is Prednisone approved to treat?

Prednisone is a powerful corticosteroid that can be used for the treatment of many different conditions including:

  • Inflammatory diseases such as asthma, rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, and systemic lupus erythematosus.
  • Autoimmune diseases
  • Certain types of allergies
  • To help reduce inflammation in various parts of the body.

How does Prednisone help with these illnesses?

Prednisone is a type of corticosteroid which mimics the action of cortisol, an essential hormone produced by the adrenal glands that plays many roles in the body. Prednisone acts primarily as an anti-inflammatory and immune system suppressant, reducing swelling and inhibiting the body's immune response to prevent or reduce symptoms associated with various autoimmune diseases or allergies. Like Humira, prednisone can be prescribed for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis but it works through a more general mechanism affecting broad aspects of immunity rather than specifically targeting a particular protein (TNF-alpha) like Humira does. Due to its widespread effects on the immune system, prednisone might have more side effects compared to targeted therapies like Humira. However, it has been used extensively for decades and thus its efficacy and safety profile are well-studied making it a reliable option when immediate symptom relief is needed or where other treatments haven't adequately controlled symptoms.

How effective are both Humira and Prednisone?

Both adalimumab (Humira) and prednisone are potent drugs used in treating inflammatory conditions, but they have different mechanisms of action. Adalimumab is a biologic drug that specifically targets the tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-α), which plays a significant role in promoting inflammation in diseases such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis and psoriasis. On the other hand, prednisone is a systemic corticosteroid that has broad anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive effects.

Adalimumab was first approved by the FDA for use in rheumatoid arthritis patients in 2002. Since then, numerous clinical trials have demonstrated its efficacy not only for this indication but also for other inflammatory disorders mentioned above. For instance, randomized controlled trials showed substantial improvements with adalimumab versus placebo regarding symptoms control and slowing down structural joint damage progression among rheumatoid arthritis patients.

Prednisone has been available since the 1950s and remains one of the staple treatments across several specialties due to its effectiveness against many types of inflammation-related symptoms or conditions - from allergic reactions to autoimmune disorders like lupus or vasculitides. The efficiency of prednisone has been observed through decades-long usage rather than specific clinical trials per se given it had already become standard therapy even before strict clinical trial regulations were introduced.

The side effect profiles differ between these two medications due to their differences in mechanism action—adalimumab may increase risk of serious infections or cancers while long-term use of prednisone can lead to osteoporosis, diabetes mellitus or Cushing's syndrome though short-term use generally causes few severe adverse effects.

abstract image of a researcher studying a bottle of drug.

At what dose is Humira typically prescribed?

Dosages of Humira typically start with an initial dose of 160 mg, followed by 80 mg two weeks later, and then transition to a regular schedule of 40 mg every other week. However, the dosage can vary based on the specific condition being treated. For children and adolescents, dosing is weight-based under the supervision of a doctor. On the other hand, Prednisone dosages can range widely from 5–60 mg/day depending upon response and disease severity but are typically started at higher doses during acute flares which are gradually tapered according to patient response. It's crucial that changes in dosage or discontinuation be managed under medical supervision due to potential withdrawal symptoms.

At what dose is Prednisone typically prescribed?

Prednisone treatment is typically initiated at a dosage of 5-60 mg per day depending on the condition being treated. The dose can be adjusted based on response and tolerance to the medication, with careful monitoring by a healthcare provider. It's important to note that prednisone should be taken with food to minimize stomach upset. For chronic conditions, your doctor may decrease your dosage slowly over time to reduce potential side effects. Prednisone dosages must always be tapered off under medical supervision rather than abruptly stopped due to possible adverse withdrawal symptoms.

What are the most common side effects for Humira?

Possible side effects of Humira include:

  • Injection site reactions (redness, itching, pain, swelling)
  • Headaches
  • Rash
  • Nausea and stomach pain
  • Fatigue or general weakness
  • Muscle aches

On the other hand, Prednisone may cause:

  • Increased appetite leading to weight gain
  • Insomnia (trouble sleeping)
  • Mood changes such as irritability or depression
  • Excessive sweating
  • Dizziness or fainting spells due to blood pressure changes
  • Heartburn or indigestion -Nervousness, restlessness

Always consult your healthcare provider if you are experiencing side effects from either medication.

abstract image of a patient experiencing side effect

Are there any potential serious side effects for Humira?

While both Humira and Prednisone are used to treat autoimmune conditions, they can have different side effects. For Humira, potential severe adverse reactions include:

  • Serious infections leading to hospitalization or death, including tuberculosis (TB), bacterial sepsis and invasive fungal infections.
  • Allergic reactions such as hives, difficulty breathing, swelling of your face or throat.
  • Hepatitis B reactivation in chronic carriers of the virus
  • Lymphoma and other malignancies in children and adolescent patients treated with TNF blockers like HUMIRA

On the other hand, Prednisone's serious side effects may include:

  • Rapid weight gain
  • Vision problems or pain behind your eyes
  • Unusual changes in mood or behavior
  • Insomnia
  • Bloody stools -Pancreatitis symptoms like upper stomach pain spreading to your back with nausea and vomiting.

If you experience any of these symptoms while taking either drug, seek immediate medical attention.

What are the most common side effects for Prednisone?

Prednisone, a steroid medication, can come with a variety of side effects. These may include:

  • Fluid retention causing swelling in your lower legs
  • High blood pressure
  • Problems with mood swings, memory and behavior and other psychological effects, such as confusion or delirium
  • Increased appetite leading to weight gain
  • Nausea, stomach pain
  • Sleep disturbances, including insomnia
  • Headache, dizziness
  • Muscle weakness or joint pain Additionally, long-term use of Prednisone can lead to more serious complications like osteoporosis due to its effect on bone density. It's essential for patients considering this treatment option to discuss these potential risks thoroughly with their healthcare provider.

Are there any potential serious side effects for Prednisone?

Prednisone, while a widely used medication, can present a range of side effects. Some potential severe reactions include:

  • Allergic responses: symptoms could involve hives, itching or skin rash; and in more serious cases fever, swollen glands, face or throat swelling along with difficulty breathing.
  • Mood swings or behavioral changes: ranging from confusion and unusual mood alterations to significant shifts such as episodes of depression or euphoria.
  • Vision problems: these might be blurred vision, eye pain and swelling for starters. More alarmingly one might experience seeing halos around lights.
  • Cardiovascular symptoms: an increased heart rate that is either too fast or irregular should not be overlooked.
  • Rapid weight gain due to fluid retention and swelling throughout the body.

If you find yourself experiencing any of these issues after taking Prednisone, immediate medical attention is recommended.

Contraindications for Humira and Prednisone?

Both Humira and Prednisone, along with most other medications used to treat autoimmune disorders, may cause adverse reactions in some people. If you notice your symptoms worsening or any unusual changes in your health during treatment, seek immediate medical attention.

Neither Humira nor Prednisone should be taken if you are taking or have recently stopped taking live vaccines or immunosuppressive drugs. Always inform your physician about all the medications and supplements you are currently using; certain drugs will require a period of clearance from your system to prevent potentially harmful interactions with both Humira and Prednisone.

Furthermore, these medicines can make it easier for you to get infections or may worsen any current infections. Therefore, avoid contact with people who have infections that could spread to others (such as chickenpox, measles, flu). Consult your doctor if you've been exposed to an infection like tuberculosis before starting on either medication.

How much do Humira and Prednisone cost?

For the brand name versions of these drugs:

  • The price for two pre-filled syringes of Humira (40 mg), which is typically a month's supply, averages around $5,500. This works out to approximately $183/day.
  • The price for 30 tablets of Prednisone (20 mg) ranges from $10 - $18 in total, which means roughly $0.33-$0.60 per day.

Thus, if you are prescribed an average dose of either drug, Humira is significantly more expensive than Prednisone on a per-day treatment basis. However cost should not be the primary consideration in determining which of these drugs is right for you as they have different mechanisms and indications.

Regarding their generic counterparts:

  • Adalimumab biosimilars (the equivalent to a generic version for biologic medications like Humira) are becoming available but still tend to be quite costly due to the complex manufacturing process involved with biologics.
  • Prednisolone, the generic version of prednisone, has similar costs ranging between about $10 - $18 for 30 tablets depending on dosage strength and pharmacy pricing policies.

Please consult your healthcare provider or pharmacist regarding any potential savings programs that may apply specifically to your situation.

Popularity of Humira and Prednisone

Humira, also known as adalimumab, is a biologic drug used in the treatment of autoimmune diseases. In 2020, it was estimated that Humira had been prescribed to about 3 million people in the US. This accounted for around 5% of prescriptions for anti-rheumatic medications and made it one of the most commonly administered biological agents.

On the other hand, prednisone is a more traditional steroid medication used to reduce inflammation associated with various conditions including allergies, arthritis and asthma. Prednisone use is widespread due to its efficacy and affordability; approximately 20 million prescriptions were filled within the USA in 2020 alone. Despite this prevalence, long-term use can lead to serious side-effects such as osteoporosis or weakening immune function which may favor targeted treatments like Humira depending on individual patient context.


Both Humira (adalimumab) and Prednisone have been widely used to manage autoimmune conditions, including rheumatoid arthritis. They are backed by numerous clinical studies indicating their effectiveness compared to placebo treatments. Their use together is subject to careful consideration as they both suppress the immune system in different ways: Humira blocks TNF-alpha, a cytokine involved in systemic inflammation, while prednisone acts more broadly as an immunosuppressant.

Humira is typically considered when first-line disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), such as methotrexate, are not sufficient or tolerated well. Prednisone may be used alongside DMARDs for symptom control until the DMARD takes effect.

Both medications can be costly; however, generic versions of prednisone are available representing significant savings. The effects of both drugs might not be noticeable right away due to their differing modes of action.

The side effects range from mild to serious for both medications with long-term usage leading to potential risks like infections due to lowered immunity. For both Humira and Prednisone, patients must closely monitor their symptoms especially when starting treatment and should seek medical help immediately if they notice signs of infection or other serious side-effects.