Actemra

Generic Name: Tocilizumab

  • What is Actemra?

    Actemra is a medicine used to treat moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis after another medication has been used and did not work well. Also, Actemra is used to treat systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Actemra is administered intravenously (through a vein in your arm).

  • What is the most important information I should know about Actemra?

    Actemra can make you more likely to get infections or make any infection you have worse. Tell your doctor if you experience fever, sweating, chills, muscle aches, cough, shortness of breath, blood in your phlegm, weight loss, skin reactions, diarrhea, stomach pain, pain on urination, urinating more often, or feel tired.

    Your doctor will test you for tuberculosis (a bacterial infection that affects the lungs) before starting Actemra and will monitor you closely for signs and symptoms of tuberculosis during treatment with Actemra. Tell your doctor if you have tuberculosis, have been in close contact with someone with tuberculosis, or have or have had hepatitis B virus infection. Also, tell your doctor if you live, have lived, or have traveled to certain parts of the country; some areas can increase your chance of getting certain kinds of fungal infections.

    Some people receiving Actemra can get tears in their stomach or intestine. Your risk can increase if you have diverticulitis (inflammation in the large intestines that results in pouches), have ulcers in your stomach or intestines, or are taking nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids (such as prednisone), or methotrexate. Tell your doctor immediately if you have a fever, abdominal pain that does not go away, or a change in your bowel habits.

    Actemra can cause a decrease in neutrophils (type of blood cells that fight infections) or platelets (type of blood cells that form clots to help stop bleeding) in your blood, or it can cause an increase in certain liver function tests. Your doctor will monitor your blood counts or liver function and adjust your dose depending on the results if needed. Also, Actemra can cause an increase in your blood cholesterol levels; your doctor will monitor you for this.

    Actemra can affect your immune system and can increase your risk of certain cancers. Tell your doctor if you have ever had any type of cancer.

    An allergic reaction that may result in death if not immediately treated can occur while infusing Actemra. Tell your doctor immediately if you experience fever, chills, rash, or breathing problems. Also, tell your doctor if you have experienced this reaction before while receiving Actemra.

  • Who should not take Actemra?

    Your doctor will not administer Actemra to you if you are allergic to it or any of its ingredients.

  • What should I tell my doctor before I take the first dose of Actemra?

    Tell your doctor about all prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal medications you are taking before beginning treatment with Actemra. Also, talk to your doctor about your complete medical history, especially if you have an infection, including tuberculosis, hepatitis B, or HIV infection (AIDS); a weak immune system; diabetes; cancer; abdominal pain; stomach, intestinal, liver, or nervous system problems; blood disorders; are scheduled to receive a vaccine; plan to have surgery; or are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

  • What is the usual dosage?

    The information below is based on the dosage guidelines your doctor uses. Depending on your condition and medical history, your doctor may prescribe a different regimen. Do not change the dosage or stop taking your medication without your doctor's approval.

    Rheumatoid Arthritis

    Adults: Your doctor will administer the appropriate dose for you based on your body weight and condition.

    Systemic Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

    Children ≥2 years: Your doctor will administer the appropriate dose for your child based on their body weight and condition.

    If you or your child have a low neutrophil count, a low platelet count, or an increase in certain liver function tests, the doctor will adjust the dose appropriately.

  • How should I take Actemra?

    Your doctor will administer Actemra intravenously to you.

  • What should I avoid while taking Actemra?

    Do not miss your scheduled follow-up appointments with your doctor.

  • What are possible food and drug interactions associated with Actemra?

    If Actemra is used with certain drugs, the effects of either could be increased, decreased, or altered. It is especially important to tell your doctor if you are taking any of the following prior to treatment with Actemra: birth control pills, blood thinners (such as warfarin), certain other medicines to treat rheumatoid arthritis (such as abatacept, adalimumab, anakinra, certolizumab, etanercept, golimumab, infliximab, or rituximab), cholesterol-lowering medications called statins (such as atorvastatin, lovastatin, or simvastatin), cyclosporine, live vaccines, omeprazole, or theophylline.

  • What are the possible side effects of Actemra?

    Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, tell your doctor as soon as possible. Only your doctor can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking this drug.

    Side effects may include: abdominal pain, allergic reactions, diarrhea, fever, headache, increase in blood pressure, infections, loss of appetite, muscle aches, skin rash or itching, sore throat, upper respiratory tract infection, yellowing of your skin or whites of your eyes

  • Can I receive Actemra if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

    The effects of Actemra during pregnancy and breastfeeding are unknown. Tell your doctor immediately if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

  • What should I do if I miss a dose of Actemra?

    Actemra should be given under special circumstances determined by your doctor. If you miss your scheduled dose, contact your doctor for advice.

  • How should I store Actemra?

    Your doctor will store this medication for you.