Rheumatoid Arthritis and I have Enbrel in my fridge!


enbrel2I have in my fridge right now, a one month supply of Enbrel (etanercept).

I can barely believe it. I have been working towards this for years.  I have all the available read the studies I could find on biological dmards, learned which ones have been proven effective on their own (some work far better if taken with methotrexate), searched endless documents for the Australian Medicare eligibility criteria, and educated myself in doctor speak so that I could plead my case to my new rheumy.

And now I have four week’s worth of Enbrel in my fridge.  It’s an injection that will be self- administered (once I learn how) once a week.  I have no problem with needles, and quite frankly I cannot wait to take my first shot!

But I have to wait.

I have had a staph infection that I have been on antibiotics for the last week for.  It’s looking pretty healed to me.  But I also have a cold.  Can you take Enbrel with a cold?  I think you can.

I have an appointment with my doc this afternoon to be shown how to use the autoinjector pen.  I’ve watched the online video at the Enbrel website.  Looks pretty simple.

I have four repeats.  The Australian government allows four months of treatment, and then I need to prove that it is effective with blood work and another assessment from my rheumy.

If it’s not effective after four months, I will no longer be able to receive it.  (Presumably I will be able to try another biological dmard)

But I have high hopes (once again).  And once again, I’m a little nervous about side effects…adverse reactions…the long term consequences.  I don’t allow myself to think about those too much though.

The last few weeks have certainly shown, that for me, living with uncontrolled Rheumatoid Arthritis is A Very Bad Thing.  I am completely dependent on quite a hefty dose of prednisone to be able to move at all.  At some point prednisone will start to cause more problems than it solves.  When?  Who knows?  Next week?  In ten years?

It’s a risk.  A risk I don’t have to take, if Enbrel works for me.  And while Enbrel has some very scarey side effects, they are very rare.

And still, even after all the issues, and problems, and side effects…I’m an optimist.

Enbrel is a risk well worth taking.  Wish me luck!


  1. Good luck! I’ve been on Enbrel for three weeks and I’ve noticed improvement in the use of my hands. I’m also taking Metho once a week. I still have pain, but whatever relief I can get, I’ll take. For us, it’s truly is one step at a time!

    • Every little bit helps, doesn’t it Christina? Awesome that you’re feeling an improvement so quickly. I hope you get more improvement over coming weeks!

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  2. I am wishing you the very best of luck on this part of your journey. You’ve researched, you’re well prepared & I hope you get the results that you are hoping for. I inject mtx weekly from prefilled syringes and it’s a doddle. I would well imagine that you only have to skip a dose if you have a nasty infection, I would think a simple cold would be fine. I only ever skip my mtx if I have a bad chest or uti, infections like that which need your immune systems full attention to get rid of, or if my system seems really run down. I know people for whom Enbrel has worked really well and a few for whom it’s not worked. I hope to be able to add you to the first list. Let us know how it goes and good luck at the drs apt.

    • Thanks Gillian! I had the shot yesterday – you’re right, a cold is no problem. And I feel fine! It was very simple. Now I just wait and see…but I’m hopeful 🙂 Does mtx keep your symptoms under control?

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  3. Keeping my fingers crossed-metaphorically of course, for you. The Cimzia has not yet worked for me, but the Rhuemo wants me to continue for another 6 weeks before we try a differant drug. Keep wee, and let us know how it is going. xxxx

      • arrghhh! Rheumies don’t understand just how long six weeks sounds when you’re in so much pain every day! But I’m glad he/she is willing to try something else soon. I so hope the next drug is the one for you Sarah. Keep telling me how you’re going too!

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  4. Travelling with Enbrel – the iCool Prestige is a great product that will keep the medication at an optimum temperature 2 – 8 C for 24 hours.

  5. Hi! From the thread above it seems that the Australian Medicare system will pay for Enbrel medication if it is motivated by the rheumatologist…no need for expensive private medical aid, correct?

    • Hi Henno, in a sense, yes. Some rheumatologists will find ways around the rules…because the rules do not use objective criteria to assess rheumatoid severity. It could be argued that there *are* no really objective, unequivical criteria for assessing disease severity. Being seronegative makes the process far harder…but as I stated in one of my posts, all the patients I know who are seronegative and have severe disease did get onto biologicals eventually. But only because an experienced and sympathetic rheumatologist bent the rules a little. Thank goodness there are rheumies out there that DO bend the rules. I guess the system is working…it can be a hard fight however. Especially when you have physical evidence of severe disease (scans showing inflammation and damage).


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