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Ilaris

Generic name: canakinumabKAN-a-KIN-ue-mab ]
Drug class: Interleukin inhibitors

Medically reviewed by Philip Thornton, DipPharm. Last updated on Sep 7, 2020.

What is Ilaris?

Ilaris is a monoclonal antibody that blocks certain proteins in the body that can affect inflammation and other immune responses. Canakinumab is used to treat certain types of periodic fever syndromes, sometimes called auto-inflammatory syndromes.

Periodic fever syndromes are rare and often inherited conditions caused by mutations in certain genes; usually genes that are involved in producing a certain protein or enzyme in the body. People with a periodic fever syndrome have episodes of fever and inflammation without other causes such as infection or virus.

Ilaris is used to treat the following periodic fever syndromes in adults and children who are at least 4 years old:

  • Cryopyrin-Associated Periodic Syndromes, including Familial Cold Autoinflammatory Syndrome and Muckle-Wells Syndrome

  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor Associated Periodic Syndrome

  • Hyperimmunoglobulin D Syndrome, also called Mevalonate Kinase Deficiency

  • Familial Mediterranean Fever (FMF)

Ilaris is also used to treat Still's disease including Adult-Onset Still's Disease and Systemic Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis in children who are at least 2 years old.

Warnings

Serious and sometimes fatal infections may occur during treatment with Ilaris. Call your doctor right away if you have signs of infection such as: fever, chills, sweating, tiredness, cough, shortness of breath, skin sores, warm or painful areas on your body, diarrhea, stomach pain, or weight loss.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use Ilaris if you are allergic to canakinumab.

Tell your doctor if you have ever had tuberculosis, if anyone in your household has tuberculosis, or if you have recently traveled to an area where tuberculosis is common.

To make sure Ilaris is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • an active or chronic infection;

  • low white blood cell counts;

  • a weak immune system;

  • HIV, hepatitis B, or hepatitis C;

  • a history of recurrent infections; or

  • if you have recently received or are scheduled to receive any vaccine.

Make sure you are current on all vaccines before you begin treatment with Ilaris.

Treatment with Ilaris may increase your risk of developing cancer. Talk to your doctor about your individual risk.

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

If you use Ilaris while you are pregnant, make sure any doctor caring for your new baby knows that you used the medicine during pregnancy. Being exposed to Ilaris in the womb could affect your baby's vaccination schedule during the first 12 months of life.

It may not be safe to breastfeed while using this medicine. Ask your doctor about any risk.

How should I use Ilaris?

Ilaris is injected under the skin. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.

Before you start treatment with Ilaris, your doctor may perform tests to make sure you do not have tuberculosis or other infections.

Ilaris is usually given once every 4 to 8 weeks depending on the condition being treated. Follow your doctor's instructions.

Tell your doctor if you have any changes in weight. Canakinumab doses are based on weight (especially in children and teenagers), and any changes may affect the dose.

Ilaris can weaken your immune system. Your blood may need to be tested often.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Call your doctor for instructions if you miss an appointment for your Ilaris injection.

What happens if I overdose?

Since this medication is given by a healthcare professional in a medical setting, an overdose is unlikely to occur.

What should I avoid while using Ilaris?

Avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Tell your doctor at once if you develop signs of infection.

Do not receive a "live" vaccine while using Ilaris. The vaccine may not work as well during this time, and may not fully protect you from disease. Live vaccines include measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), rotavirus, typhoid, yellow fever, varicella (chickenpox), zoster (shingles), and nasal flu (influenza) vaccine.

Ilaris side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction to Ilaris: hives; nausea, trouble swallowing; dizziness, fast or pounding heartbeats, difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Serious and sometimes fatal infections may occur during treatment with Ilaris. Call your doctor right away if you have signs of infection such as:

  • fever lasting longer than 3 days, chills, sweating;

  • sores, warmth, or pain anywhere on your body;

  • stomach pain, diarrhea, weight loss;

  • ongoing cough, shortness of breath;

  • chest pain, coughing up mucus or blood;

  • pain or burning when you urinate;

  • redness in one part of your body;

  • warmth, redness, or swelling under your skin; or

  • flu symptoms, feeling very tired.

Common Ilaris side effects may include:

  • cold or flu symptoms (runny nose, cough, sore throat, body aches);

  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stomach pain;

  • painful urination;

  • dizziness, spinning sensation;

  • headache;

  • weight gain; or

  • itching, redness, swelling, or warmth where the medicine was injected.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect Ilaris?

Sometimes it is not safe to use certain medications at the same time. Some drugs can affect your blood levels of other drugs you take, which may increase side effects or make the medications less effective.

Tell your doctor about all your other medicines, especially:

  • anakinra;

  • adalimumab, certolizumab, golimumab, infliximab;

  • etanercept, rilonacept;

  • warfarin; or

  • other drugs that weaken immune system such as cancer medicine, steroids, and medicines to prevent organ transplant rejection.

This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact wth canakinumab, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible drug interactions are listed here.

Popular FAQ

How much does Ilaris cost?

Ilaris is an expensive medicine and costs about $17,700 for a one mL vial. It is given as an injection under the skin usually every 4 or 8 weeks. Your dose is based on your weight. Most people get help paying for their medicine from insurance or the manufacturer.

How is Ilaris administered?

Your doctor will give you Ilaris (canakinumab) as a subcutaneous injection just below the skin. Ilaris is administered only by your healthcare provider either every 4 weeks or every 8 weeks depending upon your diagnosis.

Does Ilaris suppress the immune system?

Yes, Ilaris can suppress the immune system, and it is considered an immunosuppressant. Ilaris works by binding to human interleukin 1beta and blocks its interaction with IL-1 receptors. Il-1 is an inflammatory cytokine and is one of the main regulators of inflammation, playing an important role in health and disease. Il-1 is mainly made by one type of white blood cell, called a macrophage, and it helps another type of white blood cell, the lymphocyte, fight infections. Ilaris reduces inflammation but because it weakens your immune system it can also make you more susceptible to infections and increase your risk of malignancies. You will need regular blood tests while you are taking Ilaris and you need to tell your doctor if you develop any sort of infection.

How long does Ilaris take to work?

Ilaris works very quickly with most people (71%) experiencing a complete response to treatment in just 7 days. A few people take a bit longer to respond, but by 8 weeks, 97% of people prescribed Ilaris for CAPS will have responded.

Response is measured with laboratory tests and a doctor’s assessment of the person’s skin disease and symptoms, such as rash, fatigue, muscle pain, headache or migraine, sore or red eyes, and joint pain, being minimal or better.

Does Ilaris cause weight gain?

Weight gain is a potential side effect of Ilaris treatment, with product information reporting at least 11% of people taking Ilaris gained weight. Surveys have shown weight gain is more common in females, aged 2 to 9 years old, who have been taking Ilaris for 1 to 6 months.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use Ilaris only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.