How Does It Work?

Etanercept is part of a class of medicines known as tumor necrosis factor inhibitors, or TNF inhibitors for short. As the name of the drug class implies, etanercept blocks the activity of tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha). TNF-alpha is a naturally occurring chemical in the body that is involved in inflammation and other immune system functions.
People with rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, or ankylosing spondylitis often have higher levels of TNF. These high levels can cause inflammation and lead to problems such as swollen, painful joints and raised, thick, red, scaly patches. By blocking TNF-alpha, etanercept helps to keep the immune system from attacking the body, which improves symptoms and, in some cases, prevents future damage from occurring.

Effects of Etanercept

Etanercept has been studied in several clinical trials for the following conditions.
Rheumatoid Arthritis
In clinical studies looking at etanercept as a rheumatoid arthritis treatment, the medication was shown to improve symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. More of the people taking etanercept showed improvement compared to those people not taking it. During these studies, people usually noticed improvement within the first one or two weeks of taking etanercept. The medication also improved the physical joint changes that occur with rheumatoid arthritis.
Other studies have shown that combining etanercept with methotrexate (Rheumatrex®) improves the effectiveness of etanercept for rheumatoid arthritis.
Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis
Another study looked at using etanercept for the treatment of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. In this study, 24 percent of the children and teenagers taking the drug experienced an arthritis flare-up, compared to 77 percent of those not taking it.
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Etanercept (Enbrel)

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