Enbrel can cause multiple sclerosis?

stantis FDA

I read this on a psoriasis message board this morning:

I am a 39 year old male and I took Enbrel for two years for moderate psoriasis. I stopped taking it last November (2008). I stopped just because I was tired of injecting myself.

A few weeks ago the skin on my right leg went numb. Like pins and needles. Shortly after my left hand became week.

My general practitioner sent me immediately to the ER and a waiting neurologist. They gave me a barrage of tests (CT, 2 MRIs, a Spinal Tap). The results showed a plaque on my cervical spine. The doctor told me that there is evidence that Enbrel can cause demyelination. Demyelination is the when the immune system attacks the nervous system. This can be MS. I believe that this problem was caused by the Enbrel. To relieve the symptoms they gave me prednisone by iv for five days. That made me so incredibly ill I thought I might die from it. The only good that came from it was that it cleared 99% of my psoriasis temporarily.

I am not a doctor, but I urge anyone taking Embrel to consider the consequences. It clearer skin worth other health issues? Please be wary and weigh all your options.

enbrel_sure_clickNot once did my dermatologist speak to me about Enbrel leading to multiple sclerosis. She mentioned that it could lesson my ability to fight off infection. She didn’t say anything about it effecting my nervous system.

It’s all a big crap shoot. Though I’m willing to risk getting an infection, I am not willing to get MS. And it’s not even a sure thing that Enbrel will successfully treat my psoriasis. It very well may turn out to be as worthless as the other infective medications I’ve taken for psoriasis.

I just want to have normal hands that don’t hurt or bleed. Is that asking too much? I want to be able to tie my shoes without getting blood on my shoelaces. I want to be able to use tools at work without causing my hands to crack and bleed.

I took an Enbrel injection earlier this morning. I think it will be my last.

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Rick Rottman

WordPress enthusiast, coffee drinker, and rabid crusher of candies. I live, work, and blog from Hagerstown, Maryland. You can follow me on Twitter or be my fake friend on Facebook.

20 thoughts on “Enbrel can cause multiple sclerosis?”

  1. It’s so scary to me that this drug is used by so many people. I have been reading a lot about it lately, as there are apparently new warnings than there were when I used it. Now they also say that teens who used Enbrel have a greater risk of developing cancer. Great. Why is this approved?!

  2. I would like to hear from others who take Enbrel and are having side effects. I have been having numbness in my fingers and other possible MS symptoms and am thinking about getting off Enbrel. I need advice please!

    1. I took Enbrel for 12 yrs…. it cleared my skin and I was psoriasis free for all those years. One day I started walking crooked as if I were drunk and my balance was off…I would suddenly get very exhausted and could not move until it would subside.. several months later both feet became numb and it would not go away. My Doctor sent me to a neurologist who after running several test ..discovered that I had MS. He told me it was the Enbrel that causes it..I now give myself inj. of Copaxone… not fun! Please if you are taking Enbrel…STOP!!! I am not happy that the psoriasis has returned …but I deal with it the best I can.Not much treatment options for psoriasis once you have MS. I was never warned about the risk of MS …now I battle not one but two illnesses with no cure…one on the inside MS and one on the outside psoriasis…They say God only gives these challenges to the strong!!! I am a soldier!! Good Luck!

    2. I was on Enbel for 5 years and the 5th year I was diagnosed with MS. My neuro. said it may very well be caused by Enbrel.

    3. I was taking Enbrel (25 year old female with Rheumatoid factor) and it caused demyelinating lesions on my brain after only 5 months. I woke up one day unable to feel my face or mouth, room spinning, double vision.. Etc Went to Mayo Clinic in Rochester. They said Enbrel absolutely caused it. Now, I have permanent numbness in my face, legs, constant fatigue, infertility and a littany of other things. I have had to quit working and am on disability!! I’m only 30!! I miss my career so much. I had health problems before Enbrel, but not like this. The commercials for it make me cringe. Screw you Enbrel.

  3. I have been on Humira and then Ebrel for about 6 years. I recently got numbness above my right eye that has started traveling down my face. They mentioned that it could be the onet of MS symptoms. Has this happened to anyone else? Do the symptoms go away after you go off of the drugs or it is permanent?

    1. I know this an old post but it sparked my attention ,I’ve been take enbrel 50 mg about 4 weeks the 4 th wk I started getting really dizzy I’ve had pins and needles before hand but seem to be having it more and more so my question is did it continue ,did it go away ? Any fed back would be great Thank you

      1. Hi, I have been on Embrel for the second time. The first time for about two years with no side effects, but soon after starting it this time my fingertips and feet have gone partially numb and it feels like pins and needles ALL the time. I stopped the Embrel after just two months hoping that this side effect would go away and it has only gotten worse. I am numb now all the way up both legs, but can still walk although they are beginning to feel weak. My psoriasis doctor still thinks that these side effects are coming from something other than the Embrel and I think he is full of shit! I am convinced that it is M.S. based on what I’ve read on the Internet, but don’t see a Neurologist until next week. I have had psoriasis since I was three, but nothing is worth all of this! Why aren’t they warning our doctors that this can seriously happen? What I want to know is how many people have gotten M.S. from Embrel and why isn’t this National News? It will be if I have any say about it! Wish me luck as I have many tests ahead and good luck to all of you!

  4. Rick, I have a friend of a friend who took this medication, now they are saying he has Devic’s disease ( a severe form of MS that affects the spinal cord and optic nerve).

  5. Was just perusing the topic when I came across your blog. I have had psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis now for over ten years and have been taking Enbrel for about 4 yrs. This drug has literally saved me as all others had failed and I was nearlly bed-ridden with pain and over 70 percent covered with lesions. I have known and spoken with individuals who have used Enbrel for over 10 yrs with continuing good results. I have also met several people who Enbrel ceased working for and a few that had some very bad experiences (mostly infections). I had heard about the association between Enbrel and MS when I began treatment but at the time (as with all other serious side effects) the benefits definitely outweighed the costs as nothing else was working anymore. It has been my experience that when in an open forum, the negative tends to be reported more than the positive. This is in no way meant to diminish your experience and I encourage anyone and everyone to continue reporting any adverse effects. Awareness of only good results leeds to complacency. Awareness of both good and bad leeds to knowledge and experience.

  6. I was on enbrel for a year and a half on and off. I took it for about 4 months, stopped for about 5 months then took it again for about 8 months. In the last 8 months of me using enbrel to clear my psoriasis my stomach went numb then two days later both of my hands went numb. This lasted about a week before I went to my doctor. She was puzzled so she ordered an MRI and referred me to a neurologist. After several months of testing, a week in the hospital on prednisone (because the numbness had moved up my arms to my shoulders) I was officially diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Now I am on daily injections for the MS and cannot take much of anything for my psoriasis because most everything that would be effectual will worsen the MS. My doctors prescribed both Remicade in 2004 and enbrel in 2009 and neither told me that either of the drugs could cause MS…I think I would have opted out if I had known this information. All they told me was that the medicines could weaken my immune system so I would need to be careful and stop taking the medicine if I caught so much as a sniffle. I am with the guy who wrote the article, is it too much to ask for clear skin that doesn’t flake and bleed all over everything I touch and that won’t cause debilitating diseases and symptoms???

  7. I was diagnosed with Ankylosing Spondylitis(AS) in 2005 and was put on Enbrel. Between these 5 years of being on Enbrel I noticed I was dropping things, falling down stairs and I just didn’t feel right. I thought it was part of the AS. Then I moved from Montana to New Mexico and noticed the heat was unbearable and then the numbness down the right face under my lip, arms and feet started,. My new rheumatologist finally sent me for an MRI and they found white matter lesions in Jan of 2010 and sent me to a neurologist and he ran multiple of tests on me during this time. In Nov of 2010 I was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Before I started Enbrel I was told to watch out for infections, but I was never told about the possibility of multiple sclerosis until I read the huge instructions that pointed out about central nervous system disorders.

    1. i have been on enbrel since July 2012 – so a total of 16 months. It has been a wonderful drug for my arthritis (they don’t know what type it is). I have had arthritis since I was ten and this drug lets me move in ways I never knew I could. BUT, about 12 months ago, I started having dental pain in my lower jaw and I kept going to the dentist to get checked out. Twice I was sent to an endodontist and twice I was sent away because the teeth were totally healthy. I have had tingly and numb sensations in my jaw so I’m finally going to get checked out by a neurologist, since the dentists can’t find anything wrong. I was told today I have bone loss in my chin by the dentist. Has anyone had facial pain like this? Could it be related to Enbrel?

  8. I have taken Enbrel for 10 years. Recently I have had strange things happening to me – seeing only half of people, driving and ending up in a place I intend to go and not knowing how I got there or where I was, feeling drunk and seeing double, an itchy rash for 1 year . My MRI shows white matter in my brain that maybe MS. I am scared. Anyone with similar experiences?


  10. @Roy and anyone else…I took found Enbrel to be the only thing to ever truly relieve me of my sever scalp psoriasis, P arthritis, and moderate P on my legs and torso that plagued me for 30+ years…But after using it on and off for 6 years I temporarily lost my vision my eye dr said “get an MRI now” when led to the discovery of several year of demylenation and labeled as MS. I have stopped my Enbrel and flaring a flaking all over but I am afraid to take it again as my foot and leg are regularly numb as well.

    1. I am a 26 year old female, with MS and Psoriasis.
      Have had psoriasis since I was about 15, and was diagnosed with MS in June of last year.
      Between 15-24 Id always had these strange bouts of double vision, was ALWAYS clumsy and uncoordinated, and the double vision was usually accompanied by, what the said was bells palsy. Had cat scans and MRI’s all which led to a normal answer. When I was born, I was born with a vascular hemangeoma above my left eye, so when test results came back normal, they automatically assume A- its somehow linked to the fact that I was born with this above my eye (even though the mass was above the skull) or B i needed an eye doctor maybe theres a tumor on my optic nerve. Eye doctors far and wide found nothing other than astigmatism. So I just dealt with it. It came and went, sure it was a pain when it came but whatever, it went away.
      When I was 16 I was officially diagnosed with psoriasis. By 17 I was covered from head to toe in massive plaques. I wore jeans and sweat shirts year round. The creams, the ointments, the foams, nothing worked.
      By 19 I was on my own and decided Id take matters into my own hands, and found a dermo. Shed said she’d seen A LOT of people with psoriasis over her 20+ years and I was the worst shed ever seen. It was BAD. She put me on the methotrexate folic acid cocktail and that didnt work. She tells me of Enbrel.
      Hello miracle drug.
      Within 3 months my skin was completely clear. I was finally able to….be free, for lack of a better word.After almost 4 years of wearing nothing but long pants and shirts nothing feels better than going out in public, beaming, showing all that you are in that little spaghetti strap dress youve never had the courage to wear.
      After, I would say 6 months, I had to stop Enbrel, because I lost my job and health insurance. My skin stayed clear for the better part of a year, before I started seeing those plaques agian.
      I think just over a year went by before I made the decision to go back on Enbrel. I liked having clear skin too much to ignore the fact that it was beginning to take over again.
      About 3 months goes by, and I realize I hadnt had an episode of double vision or bells palsy in quite some time so I knew I was due. At the time, I had and still have, the most amazing boyfriend, who cared enough when Ifinally got double vision to tell me that if it wasnt gone by the end of the week, the ER was going to be our home.
      5 days pass and I still have double vision, and newly muscle weakness.He takes me to the ER and after 15 hours, a cat scan, and 1 MRI all coming backing normal (go figure) they decide to do an MRI with contrast as one last ditch effort. Finally an answer.
      Multiple Sclerosis.
      They found out I was on Enbrel and know that Enbrel can cause MS symptoms. They tell me to stop my injectons right away, and make an appointment with a neurologist to confirm what the ER had found in the MRI, 30+ lesions on my brain.
      I guess because no one had ever thought to do an MRI with contrast is why they never caught the MS before, since I had had symptoms of MS (the double vision and what doctors had called bells palsy, which apparently was never bells palsy, was an MS relapse) PRIOR to ever taking the Enbrel.
      I feel like Ive got a double edge sword to deal with, as if I DONT treat the MS Ill have to deal with all of the symptoms that come with a relapse (its more than just double vision. Anything from difficulty urinating, to lack of concentration and a whole mix of symptoms in between.) and creams and oinments and all that other topical jazz just doesnt work.
      The way my psoriasis is now, its no longer just a huge plaqe on one part of my body (IE – a large plaque encompassing my entire back) I have random plaques, EVERYWHERE. some are small, some are larger, some itch, some dont, some flake, some dont, some are tiny plaques close together, some are far apart…its very time consuming If I take the time to TRY and treat with creams and such, it takes me about a half an hour to go through and rub cream on each individual spot, becuase as im sure most of you know- your damaging healthy skin everytime you ‘treat’ it.
      And you have to do it multiple times a day, and its sticky, or it smells, or its greasy, or its staining my clothes or my sheets.
      Light therapy could be an option while still taking the medicine for my MS, but thats also time consuming. It was like Enbrel was my miracle and then it was ripped away from me.
      I could not treat my MS at all and risk the possibility of the disease progressing and becoming much MORE than just the relapses I have now, and treat my psoriasis. Go back on a biologic and just cross bridges as I get to theM ; OR continue to treat my MS with the medicine they’ve put me on (which does well managing the symptoms and the relapse frequency) and deal with the psoriasis by returning to self conciousness, long pants/shirts, and a bunch of gross treatments that really dont work.
      So that is pretty much my story, Im sorry its so long, I guess it usually takes a person a while to tell their story.
      Anyone have any opinions??

  11. I realize this is an old post, but I’m adding my experience for anyone who is looking. I firmly believe Enbrel caused my MS. I took it on and off (mostly on) for about four years until 2008 when the numbness and tingling started. Like many previous posters, I was clearly made aware of the risk of infections but the only other info I received on side effects was the insert that came with the drug. You know the one…six sheets double sided, printed with a microscopic font, written in language that required a medical degree to decipher. I did read it and attempted to educate myself on the drug I was injecting into my body, and honestly I was playing the odds that I wouldn’t be one of the unlucky few who got the bad side effects. I lost that bet. One MRI, one spinal tap, and two neurologists later I had a definitive diagnosis of relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. It only took a span of 3 months after the first symptoms to be diagnosed. My neuro told me that my MRI was shockingly bad and my brain was covered with active lesions. This Neuro was incredibly detailed, even giving me a copy of his notes. I read them and found out I had “T1 black holes” in my brain. Scary stuff. I won’t bore you with the details of my complete and total downfall, but suffice it to say I lost absolutely everything. Initially treated the MS with copaxone but then switched to Tysabri after many continuing relapses. Psoriasis sufferers should appreciate the irony of this – Tysabri cleared my skin by 90%. But I no longer give a damn about my skin since I became severely disabled. My advice to anyone still taking the drug, STOP TAKING THE ENBREL IMMEDIATELY!!! It is truly not worth the risk. Please listen to someone who has lost everything to MS. Good luck everyone.

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