Humira, Remicade Side Effects Linked To Increased Peripheral Neuropathy Risk: Study

The findings of a new study suggest the side effects of Humira, Remicade and similar rheumatoid arthritis drugs may increase the risk of a form of nerve damage, known as peripheral neuropathy. 

In a study published last month in the medical journal Seminars in Arthritis and Rheumatism, researchers from the University of British Columbia, in Canada, identify an increased risk of peripheral neuropahy from a class of medications known as tumor necrosis factor inhibitors (TNFis).

The class includes Enbrel (entanercept) and Humira (adalimumab); drugs used to treat auto-immune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis , psoriasis, and Crohn’s disease.

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Researchers looked at data involving patients with rheumatic diseases who had doctor visits for rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and psoriasis, who had a medication prescribed to treat the conditions between 2006 and 2016. They looked at data on about 75,000 patients, comparing those taking one or more TNFis to those taking methotrexate and one additional disease modifying anti rheumatic drug (DMARD).

According to the findings, there was more than two and a half times the risk of peripheral neuropathy for past users of drugs like Humira and Enbrel. There was only a small 14% increased risk among new users of the drugs, however.

“Patients with rheumatic diseases who are past users of TNFi are at higher risk of developing PN compared to those taking methotrexate and one additional DMARD,” the researchers concluded.

The findings add to a number of concerns about the class of drugs as a whole, which are blockbuster treatments in the United States, generating billions in sales each year.

A number of other studies have linked TNF inhibitors with increased risks of cancer as well.

In September 2008, the FDA issued a warning to health care professionals that TNF inhibitorscarried the risk of fungal infections, including histoplasmosis, blastomycosis and coccidioidmycosis. Some of those infections could be life-threatening, the agency warned.

11 Comments

  • katherineJanuary 16, 2022 at 1:03 pm

    Have been on Remicade for nine years. Had a bad attack of pins and needles very early on in the treatment. Had tests at the hospital but was told the stinging, burning and tingling in my left thigh might go away on its own. No mention that Remicade was possibly to blame. No medication offered. The problem did resolve itself pretty quickly. Nine years later, the attacks started again in the same[Show More]Have been on Remicade for nine years. Had a bad attack of pins and needles very early on in the treatment. Had tests at the hospital but was told the stinging, burning and tingling in my left thigh might go away on its own. No mention that Remicade was possibly to blame. No medication offered. The problem did resolve itself pretty quickly. Nine years later, the attacks started again in the same place. Much worse now. Have hardly been able to walk unless I keep sitting down which seems to help for a time. Has been nearly 2 months since it started and have just written a letter to my GP. Should have been told the risks before I started it. Very angry and worried as I am nearly eighty and live alone. Katherine

  • HeatherJanuary 10, 2022 at 9:34 am

    My husband was prescribed amgevita a bio similar to humira and has lost use of his left hand. no dexterity and a dropped wrist within months. He is left handed and no real change four months on. Currently having tests but as of yet no answers. Suspect demyelination side effect from Amgevita.

  • AnnaDecember 18, 2021 at 5:08 pm

    I was prescribed Humira for psoriatic arthritis. After 5 months of being on it, loss use of my L hand, weakness, tingling, numbness. I also have peripheral neuropathy symptoms in both feet and down my L leg, and sometimes pulsing down both arms and pin & needles feeling i to hands. I can't physically do what I use to be able to because of this. I've asked all my doctors if this could be a s[Show More]I was prescribed Humira for psoriatic arthritis. After 5 months of being on it, loss use of my L hand, weakness, tingling, numbness. I also have peripheral neuropathy symptoms in both feet and down my L leg, and sometimes pulsing down both arms and pin & needles feeling i to hands. I can't physically do what I use to be able to because of this. I've asked all my doctors if this could be a side effect, but no answers. After lots of diagnostics, still no answers.

  • BrianDecember 12, 2021 at 12:48 pm

    Last year my doctor said I had rheumatoid arthritis he gave me a shot of Humira without telling me the side effects or any other damages you can do to me he said would make me feel better after 2 and a half months I started getting numbness on the right side of my body from my shoulder to my toes and now I got very bad nerve problems with my back I think it's from Humira is there anything I can do[Show More]Last year my doctor said I had rheumatoid arthritis he gave me a shot of Humira without telling me the side effects or any other damages you can do to me he said would make me feel better after 2 and a half months I started getting numbness on the right side of my body from my shoulder to my toes and now I got very bad nerve problems with my back I think it's from Humira is there anything I can do medically or legally can somebody please get back to me

  • WilliamOctober 27, 2021 at 3:22 pm

    Was on remicade for1 year To treat colitis Started getting cramps in my left calf, tingling arms during sleep, progressed to not being able to get up from a sitting position without help and not being able to stand up from a kneeling position. I stopped the treatment and was referred to the neurologist who did an EMG And confirmed a rare side effect, demiliating nerve damage, conducting block[Show More]Was on remicade for1 year To treat colitis Started getting cramps in my left calf, tingling arms during sleep, progressed to not being able to get up from a sitting position without help and not being able to stand up from a kneeling position. I stopped the treatment and was referred to the neurologist who did an EMG And confirmed a rare side effect, demiliating nerve damage, conducting blockage, I have a floppy left foot and weak right arm, hand, still getting calf cramps during sleep, I can not run normally anymore, have trouble with my balance.... nasty stuff they were made aware of these issues, in case studies decades ago, but they don’t tell you about it. Do your due diligence before contemplating the use of these TFN blockers At $5000 a dose they want as many as they can get on it.

  • KathleenOctober 27, 2021 at 1:05 pm

    I was on Humira for Crohn's Disease for about 6m/1yr then I started getting sharp shooting pains and numbness in my feet and hands. After being reviewed by a Neurology Team in the ER I was diagnosed as having an adverse reaction to TNF (Humira) and taken off Humira. A f/u nerve biopsy confirmed small nerve neuropathy due to the adverse reaction of Humira. Now I have terrible neuropathy with no [Show More]I was on Humira for Crohn's Disease for about 6m/1yr then I started getting sharp shooting pains and numbness in my feet and hands. After being reviewed by a Neurology Team in the ER I was diagnosed as having an adverse reaction to TNF (Humira) and taken off Humira. A f/u nerve biopsy confirmed small nerve neuropathy due to the adverse reaction of Humira. Now I have terrible neuropathy with no medication that gives me relief. The pain is unbearable.

  • MaureenSeptember 5, 2021 at 1:48 pm

    started Humira self injection last December . After only two doses experienced severe pain in thighs shooting down to knees. Went to A and E after several nights in severe pain, and was advised to not take any more Humira. Commenced on Pregabalin and having to take increasing doses to control pain. Then experienced panic attack and depressive feelings so now on weaning dose. Pain Is still b[Show More]started Humira self injection last December . After only two doses experienced severe pain in thighs shooting down to knees. Went to A and E after several nights in severe pain, and was advised to not take any more Humira. Commenced on Pregabalin and having to take increasing doses to control pain. Then experienced panic attack and depressive feelings so now on weaning dose. Pain Is still bad in left leg. Can't sleep for pain.

  • LatoyaSeptember 4, 2021 at 4:20 am

    I was remicade in the early 2000’s to treat Crohn’s disease. It caused peripheral neuropathy in my legs in feet. I still have swelling in my left leg and ankle I also have numbs in my feet sometimes.

  • DavidFebruary 10, 2021 at 10:20 pm

    Was treated with Remicade for 2-3 years via infusion at VA for Crohn's. Now suffer from pain, numbing, burning effects in bi-lateral feet. Tried all treatments available including light treatment, chiropractic care, acupuncture, gabapentin, Lyrica and cortisone shots. No help. possible Small Fiber Neuropathy according to Neurologist.

  • ShellFebruary 2, 2020 at 12:09 pm

    My daughter was 13 when put on Remicade for Crohns disease. At 14 she started getting pains and went from dancing to a wheelchair. Docs could not figure out what was wrong and causing her so much pain and other symptoms even after tons of testing. At 15 she had a skin biopsy that showed severe widespread Polyneuropathy. GI, rhemo, and other docs swore it could not have came from Remicade. Now at a[Show More]My daughter was 13 when put on Remicade for Crohns disease. At 14 she started getting pains and went from dancing to a wheelchair. Docs could not figure out what was wrong and causing her so much pain and other symptoms even after tons of testing. At 15 she had a skin biopsy that showed severe widespread Polyneuropathy. GI, rhemo, and other docs swore it could not have came from Remicade. Now at age 17 we recently found out there is a connection. The inflammatory bowel disease clinic doc in Miami even told me several of her patients got it from Remicade and some got better when taking off. My daughter's childhood has been robbed because of Remicade!

  • MarvinJanuary 20, 2020 at 9:11 pm

    I have been on Humira for several years and of course part of R.A. is Nueropathy so the fact that it advances is construed as simply inadequate control. My Rheumatologist is currently trying to move me from Humira to Cimzia or Remicade. There has been no discussion that it may be a side-effect. How am I to decide how to best preserve my remaining ability?

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