Information for the public

Summary of possible benefits and harms

How well does infliximab work?

Ten studies looked at how well infliximab worked for treating severe sarcoidosis, which wasn't improving with the usual treatments, or wasn't improving because people couldn't have the usual treatments. There were 155 instances of sarcoidosis in an organ other than the lung, with 52 in the brain or nervous system and 38 in the skin.

Of these 155 instances of sarcoidosis, after infliximab treatment:

  • 51 got better (33% or 33 in 100)

  • 71 improved (46% or 46 in 100)

  • 10 got better or improved (6% or 6 in 100)

  • 22 didn't change (14% or 14 in 100)

  • 1 got worse (1% or 1 in 100).

However, we don't know what would have happened if these people hadn't had infliximab. All of the studies were small and of low quality, so better quality evidence is needed to confirm this.

Specialists recommend that immunosuppressants such as infliximab should be used only when sarcoidosis is getting worse, and:

  • usual treatments aren't working or

  • usual treatments can't be used because of the person's other health conditions or

  • the person has had serious side effects with the usual treatments.

What are the possible harms or side effects?

The most common side effects of infliximab (occurring in at least 1 in 10 people) include aches and pains, infections of the upper respiratory tract (such as sinusitis), viral infections (such as flu and herpes), headaches, stomach pains and feeling sick. People often have a reaction when infliximab is administered into their veins.

Most side effects of infliximab are mild or moderate. However, some people have serious side effects, which may need treating. In most of the studies, a few people had to stop taking infliximab because of serious side effects.

People should be tested for hepatitis B virus and tuberculosis (TB) before starting infliximab. They should also be monitored closely for infections before, during and 6 months after finishing treatment.

Please note that the results of the research study only indicate the benefits and harms for the population in the study. It is not possible to predict what the benefits and harms will be for an individual patient being treated with infliximab.