You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to taking abatacept if you have:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Any disease that weakens the immune system, such as diabetes, cancer, HIV, or AIDS
- Any current infection
- Infections that come and go (such as cold sores)
- Plans to receive vaccinations
- A history of hepatitis B infection or tuberculosis
- Exposure to chickenpox or tuberculosis (TB)
- Any allergies, including allergies to food, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you:
- Are pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant (see Orencia and Pregnancy)
- Are breastfeeding (see Orencia and Breastfeeding)
- Test your blood sugar regularly (usually for diabetes).
Make sure to tell your healthcare provider about all other medicines you may be taking, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
(Click Precautions and Warnings With Abatacept to learn more, including information on who should not take the drug.)
Rheumatoid arthritis is thought to be caused by an overactive immune system that attacks the body's own healthy tissues. Many treatments for the disease work by suppressing the immune system, preventing the body from attacking itself.
Abatacept works by inhibiting T cells. T cells are a type of white blood cell (leukocytes) that play an important role in the immune system. Abatacept seems to prevent T cells from being active and multiplying too much.