Stelara (Ustekinumab) is a biologic medicine that suppresses the immune system in order to treat psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis.
Stelara works by blocking interleukin-12 (IL-12) and interleukin-23 (IL-23). IL-12 and IL-23 are two signalling proteins, or cytokines, that regulate the immune system and are related to the body’s inflammatory response. Stelara is itself a type of protein known as a monoclonal antibody.
Stelara is available as a pre-filled syringe that is taken as an injection once every 12 weeks. The normal dose is either 45 or 90 mg and is based on body weight.
Patients starting Stelara will receive an injection on week 0, week 4, and then every 12 weeks after that.
Subcutaneous injections are easy to do compared to other types of injections. Patients can do them quickly at home. A small needle pokes just under the skin to deliver medicine into the “fatty tissue” below.
Although some patients who take Stelara can feel better quite quickly, in others it can take a little longer. It is important to keep taking this medicine as prescribed by a doctor.
Important Tests and Risks
Stelara can make it a bit harder for people to fight off infections. Patients taking this medicine should call their doctor they have a fever, think they have an infection, or have been prescribed antibiotics to treat an infection.
Patients should coordinate with their doctor to stop treatment before any surgery. It can be re-started once things have healed and there’s no sign of infection.
Patients should discuss all vaccinations with their doctor because some are not advisable to get while taking Stelara.
It is important to get a TB (tuberculosis) skin test and a chest x-ray before starting Stelara.
It is important for patients who are taking Stelara to get occasional blood tests as requested by their doctor to keep an eye on blood counts and monitor the arthritis.