Side Effects, Cost, Uses, What to Consider, and More

Like most drugs, Otezla may cause mild or serious side effects. The lists below describe some of the more common side effects that Otezla may cause. These lists don’t include all possible side effects.

Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you more about the potential side effects of Otezla. They can also suggest ways to help reduce side effects.

Mild side effects

Here’s a short list of some of the mild side effects that Otezla can cause. To learn about other mild side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist, or read Otezla’s prescribing information.

Mild side effects of Otezla can include:

Mild side effects of many drugs may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they become bothersome, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious side effects

Serious side effects from Otezla can occur, but they aren’t common. If you have serious side effects from Otezla, call your doctor right away. If you think you’re having a medical emergency, you should call 911 or your local emergency number.

Serious side effects can include:

* For more information about this side effect, see the “Side effect focus” section below.

Side effect focus

You can read below to learn more about some of the side effects Otezla may cause.

Weight loss

You may lose your appetite while you’re taking Otezla. You may also lose some weight.

Be sure to tell your doctor if you lose three pounds (1.4 kilograms) or more in 7 days or less. Changes that may occur with weight loss include having:

What might help

While you’re taking this drug, your doctor may monitor your weight. They might ask you to check your weight at home.

If you notice that you’re losing weight without trying, talk with your doctor. Tell your doctor if your weight loss is happening because of severe nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

In some cases, your doctor may have you stop taking Otezla. Don’t stop taking Otezla without first talking with your doctor.

To help manage weight loss, your doctor may recommend that you eat plenty of nutritious calories every day. To regain weight that you’ve lost, try to avoid eating unhealthy empty calories. Instead, choose foods that are high in calories and nutrients. If you have trouble choosing nutritious foods to eat, talk with your doctor.


Some people may have changes in mood or depression while taking Otezla. This may be more common in people who’ve had depression in the past.

If you have depression or you’ve had it in the past, let your doctor know before you start taking Otezla.

Be sure to monitor your moods while you’re taking Otezla. Talk with your doctor right away if you have any changes in mood, feelings of depression, or suicidal thoughts.

What might help

If you’ve had depression in the past, your doctor will consider the risks and benefits of prescribing Otezla for you. If the benefits of using Otezla outweigh the risks, your doctor will likely prescribe the drug. They’ll monitor your moods regularly.

It’s important to identify depression early. Doing so can help reduce the harmful effects of depression.

If you have depression that’s related to using Otezla, your doctor may prescribe counseling or medications to treat the depression. If needed, your doctor may have you stop taking Otezla. Don’t stop taking Otezla without first talking with your doctor.

Suicide prevention

If you think someone is at immediate risk of self-harm or hurting another person:

  • Call 911 or your local emergency number.
  • Stay with the person until help arrives.
  • Remove any guns, knives, medications, or other things that may cause harm.
  • Listen, but don’t judge, argue, threaten, or yell.

If you or someone you know is considering suicide, get help from a crisis or suicide prevention hotline. Try the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.


You may have diarrhea while you’re taking Otezla. In fact, the most common side effect of Otezla is diarrhea. With diarrhea, you may have more frequent, loose, or watery stools.

Some people may have severe diarrhea while taking Otezla. With severe diarrhea, you can have:

  • fever
  • blood in your stool
  • less urine production
  • thirst
  • dizziness

Tell your doctor if you have diarrhea, or any of these other symptoms, during treatment.

You may have a higher risk of complications because of severe diarrhea if you:

  • are older in age
  • take blood pressure medications
  • take medications that lower the amount of blood in your body

What might help

If you have diarrhea while you’re taking Otezla, you’ll need to replace fluid and electrolytes that your body is losing. When you lose fluid and electrolytes through diarrhea, you can get dehydrated. (With dehydration, you have a low fluid level in your body.)

For diarrhea that’s not severe, you can rehydrate by drinking diluted fruit juice or electrolyte drinks. Eating foods that are low in fiber may help. Some foods that may help improve diarrhea include:

  • bananas
  • toast
  • oatmeal
  • white rice
  • applesauce
  • soup or broth

Certain over-the-counter medications may also help treat diarrhea. Be sure to talk with your doctor before taking any medications with Otezla.

If you have severe diarrhea with Otezla, call your doctor. They may lower your dosage of the drug. If needed, your doctor may even have you stop taking Otezla. Don’t stop taking the medication without first talking with your doctor.

Sometimes, for severe diarrhea, you may need intravenous (IV) fluids and electrolytes. (You’ll get IV fluids as an injection into your vein that’s given over a period of time.)

Allergic reaction

Some people may be allergic to apremilast or any of the other ingredients in Otezla.

Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:

  • rash
  • itchiness
  • flushing (warmth, swelling, or redness in your skin)

A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include swelling under your skin, typically in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet. They can also include swelling of your tongue, mouth, or throat, which can cause trouble breathing.

Call your doctor right away if you have an allergic reaction to Otezla. If you think you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number.

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