What is Kevzara?
Kevzara is a medication that is used to treat moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis in adults. The drug reduces the effects of a substance in the body that can cause inflammation. Kevzara is often administered in conjunction with other arthritis medicines, and it is typically given after other medications have been tried without successful treatment of symptoms. Additionally, Kevzara is used to treat polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) in adults. It is used when corticosteroids have been used but were not effective or when a slow decrease in the dose of corticosteroids cannot be tolerated.
Kevzara is also being studied in clinical trials as a potential treatment for patients who are severely or critically ill with COVID-19. However, Kevzara has warnings that it affects the immune system, and it may increase the risk of infections, including serious or fatal infections. Individuals who take Kevzara may experience side effects, such as a tear in the stomach or intestines. This is more likely if they have diverticulitis or a stomach ulcer, or if they also take steroids, methotrexate, or an NSAID.
Patients who take Kevzara must have frequent blood tests before and during treatment. In some cases, the treatment may be delayed or stopped based on the results of these tests. Before taking Kevzara, patients should inform their doctor if they have ever had tuberculosis, any active or chronic infections, diabetes, HIV or AIDS, a weak immune system, hepatitis or other liver problems, stomach pain, diverticulitis, or stomach or intestinal ulcers. Additionally, individuals who have received or are scheduled to receive any vaccines should inform their doctor.
Patients who take Kevzara may have an increased risk of developing certain types of cancers. It is not known whether sarilumab, the active ingredient in Kevzara, will harm an unborn baby. Women who are pregnant or plan to become pregnant should tell their doctor. They should also not breast-feed while using Kevzara.
Kevzara is injected under the skin once every 2 weeks. A healthcare provider may teach the patient how to properly use the medication. Patients must follow all directions on the prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. They should use the medicine exactly as directed and prepare an injection only when they are ready to give it. Patients must store Kevzara in its original container in a refrigerator, protect it from light, and not shake or freeze the medicine. Before injecting the dose, patients must take the medicine out of the refrigerator and let it reach room temperature. Once at room temperature, the medicine must be used within 14 days.
Each prefilled syringe or injection pen is for one use only. Patients must throw it away after one use, even if there is still medicine left inside. They must place used needles, syringes, or injection pens in a puncture-proof “sharps” container and follow state or local laws about how to dispose of this container. Patients must keep it out of the reach of children and pets.
The usual adult dose for rheumatoid arthritis and polymyalgia rheumatica is 200 mg subcutaneously every 2 weeks. Patients must be tested for latent tuberculosis and treated for TB prior to initiating therapy if they are positive. Patients should avoid using this drug with biological DMARDs because of the possibility of increased immunosuppression and an increased risk of infection. Concurrent use with biological DMARDs such as TNF antagonists, IL-1R antagonists, anti-CD20 monoclonal antibodies, and selective co-stimulation modulators has not been studied. Patients with active infections should avoid using this drug.