Actemra (tocilizumab) reduces the effects of a substance in the body that can cause inflammation. Actemra is used to treat moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis in adults after at least one other medication did not work or has stopped working. Actemra is also used in adults to treat giant cell arteritis, or inflammation of the lining of your arteries (blood vessels that carry blood from your heart to other parts of your body). Actemra is used to treat polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis in adults and children ages 2 and older. This medicine is also used to treat systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (or “Still disease”) in adults and children ages 2 and older.
Actemra is also used to treat severe or life-threatening cytokine release syndrome (CRS) caused by an overactive immune response to certain types of blood cell treatments for cancer. Tocilizumab is used for CRS in adults and children ages 2 and older. Tocilizumab is sometimes given together with other medications as part of your complete treatment.
Actemra affects your immune system. You may get infections more easily, even serious or fatal infections. Call your doctor if you have a fever, chills, aches, tiredness, cough, skin sores, diarrhea, weight loss, or burning when you urinate.
Actemra may also cause a perforation (a hole or tear) in your stomach or intestines. Tell your doctor if you have a fever and stomach pain with a change in your bowel habits. Tocilizumab may also cause liver problems. Tell your doctor right away if you have right-sided stomach pain, vomiting, loss of appetite, tiredness, dark urine, clay-colored stools, or yellowing of your skin or eyes. Before you start treatment with Actemra, your doctor may perform tests to make sure you do not have tuberculosis or other infections. While using Actemra, you may need frequent medical tests.
You should not use Actemra if you are allergic to tocilizumab.
Tell your doctor if you have any signs of infection such as fever, chills, cough, body aches, tiredness, open sores or skin wounds, diarrhea, stomach pain, weight loss, painful urination, or coughing up blood.
Tell your doctor if you have ever had tuberculosis, or if anyone in your household has tuberculosis. Also tell your doctor if you have recently traveled. Tuberculosis and some fungal infections are more common in certain parts of the world, and you may have been exposed during travel.
Tell your doctor if you have ever had:
- an active or chronic infection;
- liver disease;
- diverticulitis, ulcers in your stomach or intestines:
- a nerve-muscle disease such as multiple sclerosis;
- HIV, or a weak immune system;
- hepatitis B (or if you are a carrier of the virus);
- cancer; or
- if you have received or are scheduled to receive any vaccines.
Actemra increase your risk of developing certain types of cancer. Ask your doctor about this risk.
It is not known whether Actemra will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
If you are pregnant, your name may be listed on a pregnancy registry to track the effects of tocilizumab on the baby.
You should not breast-feed while using Actemra.
Actemra is given as an infusion into a vein. A healthcare provider will give you this type of injection.
Actemra is sometimes injected under the skin. A healthcare provider may teach you how to properly use this type of injection by yourself.
Before you start treatment with Actemra, your doctor may perform tests to make sure you do not have tuberculosis or other infections.
Read and carefully follow any Instructions for Use provided with your medicine. Do not use Actemra if you don’t understand all instructions for proper use. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have questions.
Prepare your injection only when you are ready to give it. Do not use if the medicine looks cloudy, has changed colors, or has particles in it. Call your pharmacist for new medicine.
Actemra is usually given every 1 to 4 weeks. Follow your doctor’s instructions.
Use all your medications as directed and read all medication guides you receive. Do not change your dose or dosing schedule without your doctor’s advice.
Actemra affects your immune system. You may get infections more easily, even serious or fatal infections. Your doctor will need to examine you on a regular basis.
If you need surgery, tell your surgeon you currently use this medicine. You may need to stop for a short time.
You will need frequent medical tests. If you’ve ever had hepatitis B, using tocilizumab may cause this virus to become active or get worse. You may need liver function tests while using this medicine and for several months after you stop.
Store the Actemra prefilled syringes in their original container in a refrigerator. Protect from moisture and light. Do not freeze. Throw away any prefilled syringes not used before the expiration date on the medicine label.
Each Actemra single-use prefilled syringe is for one use only. Throw it away after one use, even if there is still medicine left inside.
Use a needle and syringe only once and then place them in a puncture-proof “sharps” container. Follow state or local laws about how to dispose of this container. Keep it out of the reach of children and pets.
Actemra can have long-lasting effects on your body. You may need certain medical tests every 6 months after you stop using this medication.