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Anakinra May Help Ease the Pain of Rheumatoid Arthritis

rheumatoid arthritis image Anakinra (Kineret) is used to treat adults with pain and swelling caused by moderate to severe active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who have not found relief from other treatments.

How Does Anakinra Work?

Anakinra blocks the action of the protein interleukin-1 (IL-1). IL-1 is produced in excessive amounts in people with RA. High levels of IL-1 contribute to the joint pain, swelling, and stiffness of RA. By blocking IL-1, anakinra can help reduce these symptoms.

You may need to take anakinra for several weeks before your RA symptoms begin to improve.

How Should I Take This Medication?

Anakinra is given once a day as an injection. If you are prescribed anakinra, a member of your healthcare team will teach you how to give yourself the injection so that you can do it at home.

What Are the Side Effects?

The main side effect of this drug is mild redness, swelling, and pain at the injection site. Other side effects include:

  • Infections (anakinra suppresses the immune system)
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Abdominal pain
  • Low white blood cell count

Who Should Not Take Anakinra?

Anakinra is not for everyone with RA. Talk to your doctor before taking anakinra if you:

  • Have a fever or think you may have an infection
  • Are taking certain medications, including tumor necrosis factor (TNF) blockers, such as adalimumab, etanercept, or infliximab
  • Are allergic to proteins made from bacteria cells or any ingredient in the medication
  • Have a latex allergy
  • Have asthma, HIV infection, or kidney disease
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding

If you are prescribed anakinra, there are other precautions that you should take, such as:

  • Telling your doctor or dentist that you are taking anakinra before you have a procedure
  • Talking to your doctor before you have a live virus vaccine

If you have tried other RA medications and have not had any relief from your symptoms, talk to your doctor to find out if anakinra is a good option for you.


Arthritis Foundation

Food and Drug Administration


Canadian Pharmacists Association

The Arthritis Society


Anakinra. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated July 7, 2016. Accessed July 14, 2016.

Biologic disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs) for rheumatoid arthritis. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated September 22, 2015. Accessed July 14, 2016.

Bresnihan, B, Alvara-Gracia, JM, Cobby, M, et al. Treatment of rheumatoid arthritis with recombinant human IL-1 receptor antagonist. Arthritis Rheum. 1998; 41(12):2196-2204.

Fleischmann, RM, Schechtman, J, Bennett, R, et al. Anakinra, a recombinant human interleukin-1 receptor antagonist (r-metHuIL-1ra), in patients with rheumatoid arthritis: A large, international, multicenter, placebo-controlled trial. Arthritis Rheum. 2003;48(4):927-934.

Last reviewed July 2016 by Michael Woods, MD  Last Updated: 7/14/2016