Humira (adalimumab) and Stelara (ustekinumab) are biologic medications used to treat several chronic inflammatory conditions, including Crohn’s disease, ulcerative colitis, and plaque psoriasis. They work by targeting specific pathways in the immune system to reduce inflammation. This article provides an in-depth comparison of these two medications, including their mechanisms of action, approved uses, efficacy, side effects, and other important factors.


Mechanism of Action

Humira (Adalimumab):

Type: TNF (tumor necrosis factor) inhibitor.
Mechanism: Humira binds to TNF-alpha, a substance in the body that causes inflammation in autoimmune diseases. By blocking TNF-alpha, Humira helps reduce inflammation and the immune system’s response.


Stelara (Ustekinumab):

Type: IL-12 and IL-23 inhibitor.
Mechanism: Stelara targets and inhibits the activity of interleukin-12 (IL-12) and interleukin-23 (IL-23), cytokines that play a key role in inflammatory and immune responses. By blocking these cytokines, Stelara reduces inflammation.


Approved Uses

– Rheumatoid arthritis
– Psoriatic arthritis
– Ankylosing spondylitis
– Crohn’s disease
– Ulcerative colitis
– Plaque psoriasis
– Juvenile idiopathic arthritis
– Hidradenitis suppurativa
– Uveitis

– Plaque psoriasis
– Psoriatic arthritis
– Crohn’s disease
– Ulcerative colitis



Both Humira and Stelara have been shown to be effective in treating their respective conditions. The choice between them often depends on individual patient factors, such as the specific condition being treated, the severity of the disease, and how the patient responds to other treatments.


Side Effects


Mild Side Effects

– Injection site reactions (redness, swelling, pain)
– Upper respiratory infections
– Headache
– Rash
– Nausea

– Upper respiratory infections
– Headache
– Fatigue
– Back pain
– Injection site reactions


Serious Side Effects

– Serious infections (e.g., tuberculosis, bacterial sepsis)
– Hepatitis B reactivation
– Heart failure
– Neurological reactions (e.g., multiple sclerosis)
– Blood disorders (e.g., anemia, low white blood cell count)
– Malignancies (e.g., lymphoma)
– Lupus-like syndrome


– Serious infections (e.g., tuberculosis, fungal infections)
– Malignancies (e.g., skin cancer)
– Posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome (PRES)
– Allergic reactions (e.g., anaphylaxis)
– Reversible posterior leukoencephalopathy syndrome (RPLS)


Comparison Chart


Administration and Dosage

– Typically administered via subcutaneous injection every 1-2 weeks. The exact dosage and frequency depend on the specific condition and patient needs.

– Initially administered as a subcutaneous injection, followed by maintenance doses every 8-12 weeks. The initial dose may be higher to establish the therapeutic effect.


Monitoring and Safety

Both medications require regular monitoring for potential side effects, including infections and malignancies. Patients need to undergo TB testing before starting treatment and periodically during treatment. Regular blood tests may also be necessary to monitor for any adverse effects on the liver, kidneys, and blood cell counts.


Cost and Insurance

The cost of Humira and Stelara can be high, often requiring insurance coverage or patient assistance programs to make the treatments affordable. The exact cost can vary based on the dosage, frequency, and specific insurance plan.


Both Humira and Stelara are effective biologic treatments for a variety of chronic inflammatory conditions. The choice between them depends on several factors, including the specific condition being treated, patient response to other treatments, and potential side effects. Regular monitoring and communication with a healthcare provider are essential to ensure the safety and effectiveness of these medications. Patients should discuss their specific situation with their healthcare provider to determine the best treatment plan.


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