Hugh Duckworth MD
Hugh Duckworth MD

Doctor of Medicine (M.D.) in 1984 from University of Tennessee School of Medicine

Oct 27, 2018 4 min read

RA Drugs: How Effectively Does Orencia Treat Rheumatoid Arthritis?

Imagine that you find it nearly impossible to get out there and garden, play tennis, go jogging or pick up your children. The reason why? You have joint pain that makes every activity a challenge. Further, what if this pain kept you from doing your job or earning a living for your family? If you suffer from Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), this isn’t something you have to imagine—it is your reality.

Luckily, several drugs are available today that can help with the symptoms of RA and may even help keep the disease from progressing further. You may even be able to get back to your hobbies and keep working at a job you love.


If you are an RA patient, and your doctor has prescribed one of these drugs, likely you have a few questions. One of the more common drugs prescribed for RA today is Orencia (generic name: Abatacept.) We have gathered some information about the drug and how well it works, so you know what to expect, and you can discuss the benefits and potential drawback of using this treatment with your doctor—so you can decide together if it is the right treatment for you. For detailed information about the drug, you may also want to review the leaflet produced by the FDA. This information is also available from your local pharmacy, upon request.

How Does Orencia Work?

First, to understand how Orencia works, you must know how RA works. RA is an auto-immune disease. An autoimmune disease causes your body’s immune system to attack healthy parts of your body. In this case, RA will usually attack the joints (though this is not always the case.)


Orencia is a prescription medication, usually taken daily, and it can help with RA by fundamentally weakening your immune system. The benefit of this is that it will make the immune system less likely to attack your joints and cause those bothersome symptoms of RA. It can slow down the damage to the joints too, so you may not only feel better today, but you’ll feel better for the long haul.

How Well Does Orencia Work?

Like most prescription drugs, Orencia works better for some patients than others. In most cases, it requires a patient trying the drug to see if it is a good fit and how successful the treatment is. Because of the way Orencia works, by weakening the immune system, it is important that the drug is taken each and every day as prescribed. It is one medicine, in particular, that will not have the same benefits if treatment is not done on a regular basis.


What Patients Think

You can read dozens of reviews of the medication from many different patients on sites such as WebMD. Some will tout Orencia as a wonder drug while others seem to think it has no positive result at all. This can be due to the variation in severity and symptoms in patients with RA, and whether or not they are taking the medication as prescribed, and the presence of other illnesses that may make it more difficult to treat.


Side Effects

The biggest concern that many RA sufferers have with taking Orencia (Abatacept) is in the way it works. Since Orencia works to weaken your immune system, it may make your more susceptible to other diseases.  Therefore, you could be more likely to get that cold or stomach bug that is passing through the office. There are, of course, other side effects as well, which may vary from person to person. Some of these side effects include headache, nausea, sore throat, and allergic reactions.

Is it Worth the Risks of Taking Orencia for RA?

In most cases, a doctor will only prescribe Orencia if he or she thinks that the risk of potential side effects is not as severe as the symptoms RA is causing you. Deciding if you are a good candidate for Orencia is not something that a doctor will take lightly, and he or she will discuss all the pros and cons of the medicine before prescription.


As you can see, Orencia has many benefits for a patient who suffers from RA. If you are interested in learning more about this treatment and seeing if it is right for you, reach out to your doctor today. It could be that Orencia is the medication you need to keep symptoms in check and keep doing the things you love.