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How long does Cimzia take to work?

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on June 13, 2022.

Official answer


Cimzia injection can work as fast as 1 or 2 weeks in some people for conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, and non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis. Its full effectiveness can range from 4 months to 1 year based on your specific medical condition.

Improvements in joint worsening, daily activities and quality of life measures may also occur with Cimzia treatment.

Cimzia is classified as an anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) biologic. It is administered as a subcutaneous (under the skin) injection.

Cimzia (certolizumab pegol) is approved by the FDA to treat:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Psoriatic arthritis
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • Plaque psoriasis
  • Crohn’s disease
  • Non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis (nr-axSpA)

In clinical studies, Cimzia was evaluated against a placebo, an inactive treatment used as a comparison. Some studies also included NSAIDs, corticosteroids and DMARDS like methotrexate in the Cimzia and placebo groups.

Your results may vary from the following study results. Talk to your doctor to learn more about how long it may take for Cimzia to improve your symptoms.

Clinical studies: How long for Cimzia to work?

Rheumatoid arthritis

  • In studies, close to 60% of patients with moderate-to-severe rheumatoid arthritis and using Cimzia had reductions in joint pain, and swollen and tender joints in 24 weeks (compared to 14% of patients on placebo).
  • One-quarter and one-third of these patients on Cimzia saw results at 1 to 2 weeks (vs. 6% and 8% of placebo patients, respectively.)
  • At 6 months, patients also reported improvements in independent daily activities such as bathing, dressing, doing chores and errands, and walking.
  • At one year, 69% of patients using Cimzia 200 mg every other week had no further worsening of joint damage as seen on X-rays (compared to 52% of placebo patients).

Dosing: In rheumatoid arthritis, the Cimzia recommended dose is 400 mg initially and at Weeks 2 and 4, followed by 200 mg every other week. For maintenance dosing, 400 mg every 4 weeks can be considered.

Psoriatic Arthritis

  • In studies, 58% of those on Cimzia experienced less joint pain, tenderness, and swelling by 12 weeks (vs 24% on placebo).
  • As early as 1 and 2 weeks, 22% and 33% of Cimzia patients saw an improvement (vs. 7% and 12% of placebo patients at week 1 and 2).
  • An improvement in skin appearance was seen in 62% of patients at 6 months (vs. 15% on placebo).
  • In addition, further joint damage was inhibited at 24 weeks in patients receiving 200 mg every other week of Cimzia, as shown by X-ray.

Dosing: In psoriatic arthritis, the Cimzia recommended dose is 400 mg initially and at Weeks 2 and 4, followed by 200 mg every other week. For maintenance dosing, 400 mg every 4 weeks can be considered.

Ankylosing Spondylitis

  • About 57% of patients with ankylosing spondylitis receiving Cimzia had symptom relief, such as improvements in morning stiffness, tenderness, and back pain after 12 weeks, vs. 37% of those on a placebo
  • At 1 to 2 weeks, 40% and 49% of patients had relief compared to 16% and 28% of patients on a placebo.
  • In addition, improvements in daily activities like bending, gardening, and looking over the shoulder while driving occurred as fast as 12 weeks.

Dosing: For ankylosing spondylitis (AS), Cimzia is given as 400 mg initially and at weeks 2 and 4, followed by 200 mg every other week or 400 mg every 4 weeks.

Plaque Psoriasis

  • In clinical studies of moderate-to-severe plaque psoriasis, 64% of people using Cimzia had clearer skin within 4 months (compared to 3% on placebo). Of this group, 16% saw clearer skin at 4 weeks (vs. 1% on placebo).
  • Within 4 months, 78% of people using Cimzia achieved 75% more clear skin compared to 10% of placebo patients.

Dosing: In plaque psoriasis, Cimzia is given as 400 mg every other week. For some patients (with body weight ≤ 90 kg), a dose of 400 mg initially and at Weeks 2 and 4, followed by 200 mg every other week may be considered.

Crohn’s disease

  • In patients with moderate-to-severe Crohn’s disease, 64% saw results with Cimzia at 6 weeks. This positive effect was extended to 26 weeks in 63% of people, with 48% achieving remission (disease and symptoms no longer active), compared to 36% and 29% of placebo-treated patients, respectively.
  • At 6 months, the quality of life was also improved for 60% of patients (vs. 43% of the placebo group). Symptom relief was seen for bowel symptoms, fatigue, and emotional distress. Engagement in social activities was also improved.
  • Of 24% of patients who had previously received an anti-TNF therapy, 44% responded to Cimzia after 26 weeks (vs. 25% of the placebo group).

Dosing: In Crohn’s disease, Cimzia is given as 400 mg initially and at Weeks 2 and 4. If a clinical response occurs, follow with 400 mg every four weeks

Non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis (nr-axSpA)

  • In a study of patients with non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis (nr-axSpA), patients were treated with a loading dose of Cimzia 400 mg initially, and then at 2 and 4 weeks, or placebo; followed by 200 mg of Cimzia every 2 weeks or placebo. Use of NSAIDs, DMARDs, corticosteroids, or opioids were permitted at any time.
  • In this study, 47% of patients had symptom improvement (in back pain, stiffness, and joint swelling) at 52 weeks (vs. 7% of placebo group). Some patients saw an effect at 2 weeks (vs. 1% placebo).
  • At 12 weeks, 33% of patients had less back pain than the placebo group and an improvement in their quality of life (like daily and social activities).
  • Twelve weeks after starting Cimzia, 41% of patients had a reduction in physical disability (such as bending, reaching, and climbing stairs), compared to 9% in the placebo group. At one year after treatment, this effect increased to 50% in the Cimzia group (vs. 13% of patients taking a placebo).

Dosing: For non-radiographic axial spondyloarthritis, a Cimzia dose of 400 mg is given initially, and at weeks 2 and 4, followed by 200 mg every other week or 400 mg every 4 weeks.

Learn More: Cimzia side effects and warnings (in detail)

This is not all the information you need to know about Cimzia (certolizumab pegol) for safe and effective use and does not take the place of your doctor’s directions. Review the full product information and discuss this information and any questions you have with your doctor or other health care provider.


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