Taking Complement Inhibitors Increases Your Risk for Meningococcal Disease

Seek Medical Care Quickly

If you take a complement inhibitor and think you have any meningococcal disease symptoms, get medical care right away. Make sure to tell your clinician you are taking a complement inhibitor. You should seek quick medical care even if you are up to date with meningococcal vaccination or taking antibiotic prophylaxis.

If you take a complement inhibitor you are at 1,000 to 2,000 times greater risk for getting meningococcal disease compared to otherwise healthy people in the United States. Complement inhibitors include eculizumab (Soliris®) and ravulizumab (Ultomiris™).

Clinicians prescribe complement inhibitors for three rare medical conditions:

  • Atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS), a blood disorder
  • Paroxysmal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH), a blood disorder
  • Generalized myasthenia gravis (MG), a disorder that leads to muscle weakness

If You Take a Complement Inhibitor, You Are at High Risk for Meningococcal Disease Even if Vaccinated

Recent data suggest that meningococcal vaccines likely provide incomplete protection against invasive meningococcal disease in people taking eculizumab. Experts believe this increased risk likely also applies to people taking ravulizumab. Even if you received meningococcal vaccines, you could still get meningococcal disease if you take a complement inhibitor.

If you are taking a complement inhibitor, watch for symptoms of meningococcal disease. If you have any of these symptoms, get medical care right away and tell your clinician you are taking a complement inhibitor.

CDC Recommends Meningococcal Vaccination Even If You Take a Complement Inhibitor

Even though meningococcal vaccination may not prevent all cases of meningococcal disease, you should continue receiving the recommended meningococcal vaccines. Talk to your healthcare provider to make sure you are up to date on vaccination.

Antibiotics May Help Prevent Meningococcal Disease

Your healthcare provider may give you antibiotics to help prevent meningococcal disease (known as prophylaxis) while you are taking a complement inhibitor. It is important to seek quick treatment for symptoms of meningococcal disease even if you are taking antibiotics.

References

Page last reviewed: May 31, 2019