Does Cimzia cause hair loss?
Cimzia (certolizumab) may cause a rare type of hair loss known as alopecia totalis, a complete loss of hair on the scalp. The cause for the hair loss may be due to an immune-system reaction while using Cimzia.
Total hair loss is an uncommon (0.1% to 1%) side effect of tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers such as Cimzia.
- Two case reports in patients using infliximab (Remicade), another TNF blocker, described hair loss as an 'anti-TNF therapy-related alopecia', which combines features of both alopecia areata and psoriatic alopecia.
- Alopecia areata leads to hair loss with circular patches and can occur when the immune system attacks the hair follicles (an autoimmune disorder). Alopecia totalis affects a small percentage of patients with alopecia areata.
A study conducted in France looked at the occurrence of alopecia in patients who had used any tumor necrosis factor (TNF-α) blocker. Researchers reviewed all spontaneous reports of TNF-α blocker-related alopecia recorded in their safety database between January 2000 and April 2012.
- In the database, 1068 reports of alopecia were identified out of 282,590 reports of adverse drug reactions. Of the 1068 cases, 52 (4.9%) occurred during exposure to TNF-α blockers (18 cases occurred with infliximab, 17 with adalimumab, 15 with etanercept and 2 with certolizumab).
- Exposure to TNF-α blockers was more frequent in those who reported alopecia as a side effect, compared to the other side effects pooled together.
- The researchers concluded that there was a strong link between the class of TNF-α blockers and the occurrence of alopecia.
The most common type of skin (dermatologic) reaction with Cimzia is a skin rash that occurs in about 10% of patients (1 out of 10 patients). The rash may occur due to an allergic reaction to the medicine.
This is not all the information you need to know about Cimzia (certolizumab) for safe and effective use and does not take the place of your doctor’s directions. Review the full Cimzia product information and discuss this information and any questions you have with your doctor or other health care provider.
- Béné J, Moulis G, Auffret M, et al. Alopecia induced by tumour necrosis factor-alpha antagonists: description of 52 cases and disproportionality analysis in a nationwide pharmacovigilance database. Rheumatology (Oxford) 2014; 53:1465.
- Cimzia side effects. Drugs.com. Accessed March 17, 2022 at https://www.drugs.com/sfx/cimzia-side-effects.html#professional
- Cimzi (certolizumab) prescribing information. March 2019. UCB. Smyrna, GA. Accessed March 17, 2022 at https://www.cimzia.com/themes/custom/cimzia/docs/CIMZIA_full_prescribing_information.pdf
- Ribeiro LB, Rego JC, Estrada BD, et al. Alopecia secondary to anti-tumor necrosis factor-alpha therapy. An Bras Dermatol. 2015;90(2):232-235. doi:10.1590/abd1806-4841.20153084
- Buckley J, Rapini RP. Totalis Alopecia. [Updated 2021 Sep 28]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK563225/
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