For anyone looking to start a new medication, knowing what therapies are available for your disease is key to making informed decisions regarding your health. When it comes to conditions like Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, there are several different types of drugs on the market. Two such drugs are Humira and Entyvio, which are brand-name medications with proven efficacy in the treatment of ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. We’ll help break down the similarities and differences between Humira and Entyvio so that you can understand which might be best for you.

Indication

As aforementioned, both Humira and Entyvio are approved to treat Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis. To get more specific, the exact indications that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved them for are as follows:

  • Entyvio: Moderate to severe Crohn’s disease and moderate to severe ulcerative colitis in adults
  • Humira: Moderate to severe Crohn’s disease in adults and children 6 years of age and up; moderate to severe ulcerative colitis in adults and children 5 years of age and up

As you can see, a key difference between the two drugs is that Entyvio is not approved for children but Humira is. Another major difference is that Humira has several other additional indications outside of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, while Entyvio does not. Humira’s additional FDA-approved indications include rheumatoid arthritis (RA), juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA), psoriatic arthritis (PsA), ankylosing spondylitis (AS), plaque psoriasis (Ps), hidradenitis suppurative (HS), and uveitis (UV).

Mechanism

In terms of mechanism, both Humira and Entyvio are biologics. Scientifically, biologics are different than drugs. Drugs are chemically made with a definitive structure, whereas biologics are made up of complex mixtures of special substances that cannot be well-characterized. For example, biologics encompass products such as blood and blood components, tissues, vaccines, gene therapy, and cells, and they can also contain proteins, sugars, nucleic acids, or a combination of these components.

Both Humira and Entyvio belong to a class of medications known as monoclonal antibodies. A key part of our natural immune system is the development of antibodies. Antibodies are substances that protect against foreign substances by signaling a reaction from the immune system. Researchers can manufacture antibodies in the lab to help treat certain types of diseases related to the immune system and cancer. These can be made available as monoclonal antibodies, like Humira and Entyvio.

Though both Humira and Entyvio are monoclonal antibodies, they contain different active ingredients. Humira contains adalimumab, while Entyvio contains vedolizumab.

Dosage and administration

A major difference between the two medications is the dosage form in which they come in. Humira is available as a subcutaneous injection, while Entyvio is available as an intravenous infusion. Because Entyvio must be given as an infusion, it has to be administered by a licensed healthcare provider. In terms of timing of administration, Humira is given every week or every other week depending on the indication. Entyvio, however, is administered every eight weeks.

Depending on a patient’s preferences, a deciding factor between the two medications may be patient convenience. Some patients may prefer the convenience of only needing an infusion every eight weeks with Entyvio, however, this will require a visit to the doctor’s office each time. Others might prefer the convenience of being able to administer Humira at home, however, it must be given on a weekly or bi-weekly basis.

For further information on the exact doses for each medication, refer to the prescribing information. Your healthcare provider will be able to prescribe you the dose that is right for you.

Side effects

Like any medication, both Humira and Entyvio can cause side effects. The most common side effects of the two medications are outlined below:

HumiraEntyvio
  • Infections (e.g., sinusitis, upper respiratory infections)
  • Headache
  • Injection site reactions
  • Rash
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue
  • Back pain
  • Cough
  • Rash
  • Pain in the extremities
  • Fever
  • Itchiness
  • Fever
  • Joint pain
  • Infections (e.g., flu, common cold, bronchitis, sinus infection)

As you can see, there may be a few more common side effects associated with Entyvio versus Humira. However, everybody will react to the medication differently, and thus there is no way to predict how your body will respond until you start taking the medication.

The two medications can also cause several more serious side effects. These are rarer but can still happen. They are as follows:

HumiraEntyvio
  • Liver problems
  • Serious infection
  • Serious allergic reaction
  • New or worsening heart failure
  • Blood conditions (e.g., very low levels of white or red blood cells)
  • Cancer
  • Lupus-like syndrome
  • Nerve conditions (e.g., multiple sclerosis, seizures)
  • Liver problems
  • Serious infection
  • Serious allergic reaction
  • Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy

Efficacy

A large part of deciding which medication to take is understanding how effective the medication is expected to be. We don’t always have head-to-head studies comparing every single drug, however. Thankfully, when it comes to Humira and Entyvio, a clinical trial was conducted comparing the two biologics in moderate to severe ulcerative colitis.

In this study, 769 patients were randomized to either receive Entyvio infusions or subcutaneous Humira injections for a year. To assess efficacy, investigators measured how many patients achieved remission at week 52. Results indicated that at week 52, remission rates were higher in the Entyvio-treated patients versus the Humira-treated patients. Clinical remission was achieved in 31.3 percent of subjects in the Entyvio group versus 22.5 percent in the Humira group. Based on this study, we can see that Entyvio may be more effective than Humira in ulcerative colitis.

In terms of Crohn’s disease, a meta-analysis performed a systematic review of 39 clinical trials assessing the effectiveness of different therapies for Crohn’s. Findings indicated that Humira was more effective than Entyvio in this patient population.

Though there are some comparative studies between Entyvio and Humira, it is important to note that everybody will respond differently to therapy. Just because a drug or biologic was not effective in one person doesn’t mean that it won’t be effective in someone else.

Biosimilar availability

Usually when we are seeking a cheaper drug alternative, we think about generics. Generics are identical to their respective brand-name drug. However, when it comes to biologics, there is no such thing as a generic. Instead, we use the term biosimilar.

A biosimilar is similar to how we think about generics, however, a biosimilar is not identical to the brand name biologic. Instead, it is considered highly similar to the brand name. When a biosimilar is deemed “interchangeable” by the FDA, it means that it can be substituted for the brand name biologic.

The good news is that biosimilars are usually cheaper than brand-name biologics. Thus, if biosimilars are available, your therapy can be more affordable.

The availability of biosimilars of Humira and Entyvio is one differentiating factor between the two. Humira has biosimilars available, while Entyvio does not. Thus, using one of Humira’s biosimilars may be less expensive than taking the brand name biologic Entyvio.

Putting it all together

Now that we’ve discussed the similarities and differences between the two biologics Entyvio and Humira, let’s review them side-by-side in a chart.

HumiraEntyvio
Indications
  • Moderate to severe Crohn’s disease in adults and children 6 years of age and up
  • Moderate to severe ulcerative colitis in adults and children 5 years of age and up
  • Other indications: RA, JIA, PsA, AS, Ps, HS, UV
  • Moderate to severe Crohn’s disease
  • Moderate to severe ulcerative colitis in adults
Dosage and administrationSubcutaneous injection every week or every other week

Can be given by a healthcare provider or self-administered

Intravenous infusion is given every 8 weeks

Given by a healthcare provider

Side effectsInfections, headache, injection site reactions, rashHeadache, nausea, fatigue, back pain, cough, rash, pain in the extremities, fever, itchiness, fever, joint pain, infections
Serious side effectsLiver problems, serious infection, serious allergic reaction, new or worsening heart failure, blood conditions, cancer, lupus-like syndrome, nerve conditionsLiver problems, serious infection, serious allergic reaction, progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy
Efficacy in ulcerative colitisEntyvio may be more effective
Efficacy in Crohn’sHumira may be more effective
Biosimilars available?YesNo

Seeing a side-by-side comparison, there are pros and cons to both Humira and Entyvio. Thus, choosing the right medication will require careful selection by your healthcare provider. They will be able to do a thorough review of your medication history, taking into account your personal preferences about convenience and cost, to determine which biologic is right for you. Additionally, if you try one and it doesn’t work, you can always switch to the other to see if you have better luck.