What is Tremfya?
If you have certain conditions, your doctor may prescribe Tremfya. This drug is used in certain adults for:
- psoriatic arthritis
- moderate to severe plaque psoriasis
Both psoriatic arthritis and plaque psoriasis cause red or dark-colored scaly patches on your skin. Plaque psoriasis also causes swollen, painful joints.
If you’d like to know about these conditions and how Tremfya is used for them, see the “What is Tremfya used for?” section below.
Tremfya comes as a solution inside prefilled syringes or devices called One-Press injectors. You’ll take the drug as an injection under your skin.
Tremfya contains the drug guselkumab, which is a biologic medication. A biologic is made from parts of living cells.
Tremfya isn’t available in a biosimilar form. (Biosimilars are like generic drugs. But unlike generics, which are made for nonbiologic drugs, biosimilars are made for biologic drugs.) Instead, guselkumab comes only as the brand-name Tremfya.
Read below to learn more about Tremfya’s possible side effects, how it’s taken, and more.
What are Tremfya’s side effects?
Like most drugs, Tremfya may cause mild or serious side effects. The lists below describe some of the more common side effects that Tremfya may cause. These lists don’t include all the possible side effects.
Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you more about the potential side effects of Tremfya. They can also suggest ways to help reduce the side effects.
Mild side effects
Here’s a short list of some of the mild side effects that Tremfya can cause. To learn about other mild side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist, or read Tremfya’s medication guide.
Mild side effects of Tremfya can include:
- upper respiratory infections,* such as the common cold
- the stomach flu
- redness, swelling, or pain at the site of Tremfya injections
- joint pain
- fungal skin or nail infections*
Mild side effects of many drugs may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. But if they become bothersome or concerning, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
* For more information about this side effect, see the “Side effect focus” section below.
Serious side effects
Serious side effects from Tremfya can occur, but they aren’t common. If you have serious side effects from Tremfya, call your doctor right away. However, if you think you’re having a medical emergency, you should call 911 or your local emergency number.
Serious side effects can include:
- serious infections
- allergic reactions*
* For more information about this side effect, see the “Side effect focus” section below.
Side effect focus
Learn more about some of the side effects that Tremfya may cause.
Upper respiratory infection
You may get an upper respiratory infection (URI) while you’re taking Tremfya. In studies, the most common side effect of Tremfya was URIs, such as the common cold.
With URIs, you’ll usually have:
- a runny nose
- a stuffy nose
- a cough
- excess mucus production
What might help
Symptoms of a URI can be relieved with home remedies, such as honey and ginger.
Over-the-counter (OTC) medications can help, too. Examples of these drugs and the symptoms they help relieve include:
- antihistamines, such as cetirizine (Zyrtec) and loratadine (Claritin), for a runny nose and sneezing
- decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed) and oxymetazoline (Afrin), for a stuffy nose
- dextromethorphan (Robitussin DM) for a cough
- guaifenesin (Mucinex) for excess mucus production
Before taking any new medications with Tremfya, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. And let your doctor know if your URI symptoms don’t get better or start to worsen.
You may experience diarrhea after using Tremfya. This was a common side effect in studies of the drug.
Having diarrhea can increase your risk for dehydration. With dehydration, your body loses large amounts of water and electrolytes.
What might help
Tell your doctor if you’re having diarrhea with Tremfya treatment.
If you have diarrhea, it’s important to stay hydrated by drinking water or sports drinks, such as Gatorade.
OTC products such as bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol) and loperamide (Imodium) are effective for treating diarrhea. But make sure to talk with your doctor of pharmacist first before taking any new medications with Tremfya.
Eating a BRAT diet can also help relieve your diarrhea. The BRAT diet is made up of bananas, rice, apples, and toast. These foods are less likely than others to upset your digestive system.
Taking Tremfya may cause fungal infections on your skin or nails. Fungal infections were one of the more common side effects in studies of this drug.
While taking Tremfya, you should watch for possible symptoms of fungal infections on your skin or nails. Examples of these symptoms include:
- an itchy, ring-shaped rash on your arms, legs, or trunk
- cracked, flaky, or blistered skin on your feet
- a rash in your groin area that worsens after physical activity
- thick or brittle nails that also have an odor
What might help
Antifungal drugs are helpful for treating fungal infections.
OTC antifungal products can be used for fungal skin infections. Many OTC antifungals are available, such as:
- clotrimazole cream (Lotrimin AF)
- terbinafine cream (Lamisil AT)
- tolnaftate cream (Tinactin)
However, OTC products aren’t as effective as prescription drugs for treating fungal nail infections. To treat these, you’ll likely need to consult your doctor for a prescription. Examples of drugs that they might prescribe for you include:
- fluconazole (Diflucan)
- terbinafine (Lamisil)
Tell your doctor if you think you might have a fungal infection while taking Tremfya. And before taking any new medications with Tremfya, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Some people may have an allergic reaction to Tremfya. Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:
- a skin rash
- flushing (warmth, swelling, or redness of your skin)
A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include swelling under your skin, typically in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet. They can also include swelling of your tongue, mouth, or throat, which can cause trouble breathing.
Call your doctor right away if you have an allergic reaction to Tremfya. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number.
How is Tremfya taken?
Your doctor will explain how you should take Tremfya. They will also explain how much to take and how often. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions. Below are commonly used dosages, but always take the dosage your doctor prescribes.
Tremfya comes as a solution inside:
- prefilled syringes
- devices called One-Press injectors
You’ll take Tremfya as an injection under your skin. Your first few doses of Tremfya will likely be given to you in your doctor’s office. After that, your doctor may show you how to give yourself injections of Tremfya at home.
You’ll likely have your first two doses of Tremfya 4 weeks apart. After that, you’ll take the drug once every 8 weeks.
Questions about taking Tremfya
You may have questions about taking Tremfya. Below are some commonly asked questions and their answers.
- What if I miss a dose of Tremfya? Take your missed dose as soon as possible. If you get your Tremfya injections from your doctor, call their office right away to reschedule your missed dose. You’ll most likely return to your normal dosing schedule after taking your missed dose, but check with your doctor to make sure.
- Will I need to use Tremfya long term? Yes, you’ll probably take Tremfya long term. Your doctor can recommend whether doing so is right for you.
- Should I take Tremfya with food? You can take Tremfya with or without food.
- How long does Tremfya take to work? You’ll probably need a couple of doses of Tremfya before you notice your symptoms improving. Talk with your doctor about what you can expect from the treatment.
What does Tremfya cost?
Costs of prescription drugs can vary depending on many factors. These factors include what your insurance plan covers and which pharmacy you use. To find current prices of Tremfya syringes and autoinjectors in your area, visit GoodRx.com.
If you have questions about how to pay for your prescription, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. You can also visit the Tremfya manufacturer’s website to see if they have support options.
What is Tremfya used for?
Tremfya is used to treat the following conditions in adults:
- Moderate to severe plaque psoriasis. With plaque psoriasis, you’ll have red or dark-colored scaly patches of skin. In this case, Tremfya is prescribed for people who could use certain other treatments for their condition. These other treatments are light therapy and medications that affect the entire body.
- Psoriatic arthritis. With psoriatic arthritis, you have red or dark-colored scaly patches of skin, as well as swollen, painful joints.
Tremfya works by blocking a protein in your body that’s considered overactive in people with psoriatic arthritis and plaque psoriasis. By blocking this protein, Tremfya lessens the symptoms of these conditions.
What are some frequently asked questions about Tremfya?
Below, find answers to some commonly asked questions about Tremfya.
Can Tremfya be used to treat Crohn’s disease?
Yes, Tremfya is sometimes prescribed to treat Crohn’s disease. Crohn’s disease is a condition that affects your gastrointestinal, or GI, tract. It causes cramps, diarrhea, and other symptoms.
But Tremfya isn’t approved to treat Crohn’s disease. So using the drug for this condition is an example of an off-label use. (With off-label use, a drug that’s approved for certain conditions is used for other conditions.)
If you’d like to know more about treatment options for Crohn’s disease, talk with your doctor.
How does Tremfya compare to Stelara?
Tremfya and Stelara are both injections used to treat plaque psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis in adults. Stelara is prescribed for other conditions, too, such as ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease.
However, Tremfya and Stelara contain different active drugs. Tremfya contains the active drug guselkumab. Stelara contains the active drug ustekinumab.
If you’d like to know more about these two drugs, talk with your doctor.
Is Tremfya a type of biologic drug?
Yes, Tremfya is a biologic drug. It contains the drug guselkumab, which is a biologic medication. Biologics are made from parts of living cells. This is unlike nonbiologic drugs, which are made from chemicals.
Does Tremfya cause weight loss?
No, it isn’t likely that you’ll have weight loss with Tremfya. Weight loss wasn’t observed in studies of the drug.
If you have changes in your weight while taking Tremfya, talk with your doctor. They can recommend tips for helping you maintain a healthy body weight.
What should be considered before taking Tremfya?
If you’re considering taking Tremfya, it’s important to talk with your doctor about your overall health and any medical conditions you may have. Other important considerations are discussed below.
Taking other medications, having vaccines, eating certain foods, and doing certain things while taking a drug can affect how the drug works. These effects are called interactions.
Before taking Tremfya, tell your doctor about all the medications you take (including prescription and over-the-counter types). Also describe any vitamins, herbs, or supplements you use. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you about any interactions with Tremfya that these items may cause.
Interactions with drugs or supplements
Tremfya can interact with several types of drugs, including:
This list does not contain all the types of drugs that may interact with Tremfya. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you more about these interactions and any others that may occur.
It’s recommended that you don’t receive live vaccines while using Tremfya. Live vaccines are made from small amounts of a live virus. This is unlike inactivated vaccines, which contain a dead or inactive form of a virus.
Normally, getting a live vaccine won’t cause an infection if your immune system is healthy. But Tremfya can lower the ability of your immune system to fight off infections. So the risk of getting an infection from a live vaccine is higher when you’re taking Tremfya.
Be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist before getting any vaccines while you’re using Tremfya.
Tremfya may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. Talk with your doctor about your health history before you take Tremfya. Factors to consider include those described below.
Current infection or history of infections that came back. If you have an infection now, or you’ve had infections in the past that kept returning, you shouldn’t take Tremfya. And be sure to tell your doctor if you get any infections while taking this drug.
Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Tremfya or any of its ingredients, you shouldn’t take Tremfya. Ask your doctor what other medications are better options for you.
Tuberculosis (TB). If you have TB, you shouldn’t take Tremfya. To make sure you don’t have it, your doctor will likely order a TB test for you before you start taking this drug. If the test shows that you have it, you’ll receive TB treatment before starting Tremfya.
Use with alcohol
There aren’t any known issues with drinking alcohol while using Tremfya. But if you do drink alcohol, talk with your doctor about how much is safe to drink while taking Tremfya.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
It isn’t known for certain whether using Tremfya during pregnancy or breastfeeding is safe. Be sure to talk with your doctor about the risks of using Tremfya while pregnant or breastfeeding.
What should be done in case of overdose?
Don’t take more Tremfya than your doctor prescribes. Using more than this can lead to serious side effects.
What to do in case you take too much Tremfya
Call your doctor if you think you’ve taken too much Tremfya. You can also call 800-222-1222 to reach the American Association of Poison Control Centers, or use their online resource. However, if you have severe symptoms, immediately call 911 (or your local emergency number) or go to the nearest emergency room.
Ask your doctor
If you have questions about treatment options other than Tremfya for plaque psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis, talk with your doctor.
Here are a few resources with information about other management options:
- All You Need to Know About the Latest Psoriasis Treatments
- Topical, Injectable, and Oral Medication for Plaque Psoriasis: What You Need to Know
- What Oral Medications Are Available for Psoriasis?
You may also want to ask your doctor a few other questions about Tremfya, such as:
- Will my weight change while I’m using Tremfya?
- Can you show me how to give myself Tremfya injections?
- Should I use topical psoriasis treatments with Tremfya?
To stay up to date about options for managing psoriasis, sign up here for the Healthline psoriasis newsletter.
Ask a pharmacist
Can I get vaccines, such as the flu shot, while I’m taking Tremfya?
A: Your doctor may recommend that you don’t get certain vaccines while you’re using Tremfya.
Tremfya may reduce how well inactivated vaccines work. (An inactivated vaccine contains a dead or inactive form of the germ it’s meant to protect you from.) This includes flu shot vaccines, such as Fluzone.
On the other hand, getting live vaccines while taking Tremfya could cause you to get the infection the vaccine is meant for. (A live vaccine contains a live form of the germ it’s meant to protect you from.) This includes the nasal spray flu vaccine called FluMist.
It’s probably safe to get inactivated flu vaccines while taking Tremfya. But, for best results, inactivated flu vaccines should be given at least 2 weeks before you start Tremfya treatment. And you shouldn’t get live flu vaccines while you’re taking Tremfya.
If you have more questions about getting vaccines during Tremfya treatment, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Melissa Badowski, PharmD, MPH, FCCP
Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.