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Objective: We report the incidence and treatment of infusion reactions to infliximab, a chimeric monoclonal IgG1 antibody against tumor necrosis factor a, in a large cohort of patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Patients and methods: One hundred eighty six patients with rheumatoid arthritis treated with infliximab for a total of 216.6 patient years were retrospectively evaluated. Patients received 2160 infliximab infusions at the Division of Rheumatology at the University Hospital of Padua from May, 2000 to April, 2004. Specific treatment protocols for initial and subsequent acute infusion reactions were followed and the outcomes documented. Results: The overall incidence of infusion reactions to infliximab was 0.8% (19 out of 2160 of infusions), affecting 10.2% of patients (19 out of 186). Mild, moderate, or severe acute reactions occurred in 0.1% (3 of 2160), 0.6% (13 of 2160), and 0.04% (1 of 2160) of infliximab infusions, respectively. Delayed infusion reactions occurred in 0.09% (2 of 2160) of infusions. Use of specific treatment protocols resulted in rapid resolution of all acute reactions to infliximab. With a prophylaxis protocol, all patients who experienced an initial mild acute reaction were able to receive additional infusions. Conclusions: Using appropriate treatment protocols, infliximab infusion reactions were effectively treated and prevented in patients with mild acute reactions upon retreatment. In the case of moderate to severe infusion reactions, the risks and the benefits of the continuation of infliximab therapy need to be carefully considered.
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