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Cosentyx vs Humira: How do they compare?

Medically reviewed by Carmen Fookes, BPharm. Last updated on Oct 20, 2022.

Official answer


Both Cosentyx and Humira are subcutaneous injections (SC - given under the skin) that may be used to treat certain inflammatory conditions such as plaque psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis. After an initial loading dose, Humira is given every two weeks and Cosentyx every four weeks. Both are biologics and are made from immune system cells, but reduce inflammation in different ways. Humira contains adalimumab and reduces inflammation by blocking the action of TNF-alfa (a signaling protein [also called a cytokine]) whereas Cosentyx contains secukinumab and works by stopping interleukin 17A from binding to the IL-17 receptor. For people with psoriasis, Humira is only approved for adults but Cosentyx may be used in adults and children (age range varies depending on the condition being treated). No differences in effectiveness were found in a head-to-head trial comparing Cosentyx to Humira for psoriatic arthritis.

Key differences and similarities summarized include:

  • Humira contains adalimumab. Cosentyx contains secukinumab. Both are prescription medicines
  • Both are given by injection under the skin but people can be taught how to self-administer either
  • Humira belongs to the class of medicines known as TNF-alfa (alpha) inhibitors. Cosentyx is an interleukin inhibitor
  • Humira is made by AbbVie Inc. and Cosentyx is made by Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation
  • Humira was FDA approved for psoriasis on the 18th Jan 2008 and Cosentyx was FDA approved for psoriasis on the 21st January 2015
  • Humira is approved in adults to treat moderate to severe chronic plaque psoriasis when other systemic therapies are medically less appropriate, rheumatoid arthritis, juvenile idiopathic arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, hidradenitis suppurativa, and uveitis. Cosentyx is approved to treat moderate to severe plaque psoriasis in adults and children over the age of six who require systemic therapy or phototherapy, active psoriatic arthritis in patients aged 2 years and older, adults with ankylosing spondylitis or non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis with inflammation, and active enthesitis-related arthritis in patients aged 4 years and over.
  • Humira is given SC (under the skin) injection at weeks 0 and 1, then every 2 weeks thereafter. Cosentyx is given SC at weeks 0, 1, 2, 3, and 4, then every 4 weeks thereafter
  • Common side effects of Humira include a headache, cold symptoms, rash, infections, or redness, bruising, or itching at the injection site. Common side effects of Cosentyx include infections (such as those affecting the lungs, nose, or skin), a stuffy or runny nose
  • Interactions, with medicines such as immunosuppressants, warfarin, and live vaccines are similar with either Cosentyx and Humira
  • Both are injections that need to be stored in the refrigerator at 2ºC to 8ºC (36ºF to 46ºF) before use
  • Both start working within a few weeks but it may take up to 4 months for the full effects of Cosentyx to be seen and up to 3 months for the full effects of Humira to develop
  • Cosentyx is associated with an increased risk of developing inflammatory bowel disease. Humira may help people with IBD and push the condition into remission. Humira is associated with an increased risk of certain cancers, such as skin cancer, lymphoma, and leukemia, heart problems, such as new or worsening heart failure, blood disorders, such as anemia, and other conditions
  • Very few studies have directly compared Cosentyx with Humira but one, called the EXCEED trial compared the two biologics in people with psoriatic arthritis. This trial showed that treatment with Cosentyx was similar to that with Humira (or that Cosentyx was not superior to Humira). However, people were more likely to stay on treatment than people assigned Humira. 67% of patients assigned Cosentyx achieved an ACR20 response at week 52 versus 62% of patients assigned (OR 1·30, 95% CI 0·98-1·72; p=0·0719). Seven (2%) of 426 patients in the Cosentyx group and six (1%) of 427 patients in the Humira group had serious infections.

  • McInnes IB, Behrens F, Mease PJ, Kavanaugh A, Ritchlin C, Nash P, Masmitja JG, Goupille P, Korotaeva T, Gottlieb AB, Martin R, Ding K, Pellet P, Mpofu S, Pricop L; EXCEED Study Group. Secukinumab versus adalimumab for treatment of active psoriatic arthritis (EXCEED): a double-blind, parallel-group, randomised, active-controlled, phase 3b trial. Lancet. 2020 May 9;395(10235):1496-1505. doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(20)30564-X. Erratum in: Lancet. 2020 May 30;395(10238):1694. PMID: 32386593.
  • Humira (adaliumab) [Package insert] Updated 02/2021. AbbVie Inc.
  • Cosentyx (secukinumab) [Package insert]. Updated 12/2021 Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation

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