Ustekinumab (Stelara)


Ustekinumab (Stelara) is a biologic medication used to lower inflammation and help adult patients and patients six years or older with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis, adult patients with psoriatic arthritis, and adult patients with moderate to severe Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. It is taken as an at home injection. Ustekinumab blocks inflammation proteins called IL-12 and IL-23. Ustekinumab is a biologic medication and can take several months to start working.

How to Take It

Ustekinumab injection is initially given, followed by dosing 4 weeks later, then every 12 weeks thereafter. In Crohn’s Disease, initial dosing can be given by IV infusion followed by injection under the skin. Dosing may be weight based. You will need a screening test for tuberculosis before starting this medication to reduce risk of infection. You should follow up with your doctor regularly while on this medication.

Side Effects

Ustekinumab lowers your immune system and can lead to infections. Ustekinumab rarely can lead to a nervous system condition called reversible posterior leukoencephalopathy syndrome (RPLS), which is reversible if the medication is stopped. Some people can get a reaction at the injection site, such as itching, swelling, and redness.

Tell Your Rheumatology Provider

If you develop symptoms of an infection, such as a fever or cough, you should contact your rheumatology provider. If you are pregnant or considering pregnancy, let your healthcare provider know before starting this medication; ustekinumab has not been studied in pregnant or breastfeeding women. Be sure to talk with your rheumatology provider before receiving any vaccines or undergoing any surgeries while taking this medication. Live vaccines should be avoided while on this medication. Tell your rheumatology provider right away if you have any new or worsening medical problems including changes to your mental status, vision problems, seizures, or severe headaches.

Updated February 2024 by Lisa Carnago, FNP, and reviewed by the American College of Rheumatology Communications and Marketing Committee.

This information is provided for general education only. Individuals should consult a qualified health care provider for professional medical advice, diagnosis, and treatment of a medical or health condition.

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