TOCILIZUMAB (Actemra®): Patient Information
What is Tocilizumab?
Tocilizumab is a drug that blocks the action of IL-6 in the body. It is used in adults to treat moderate to severe RA.
What is IL-6?
Interleukin 6 (IL-6) is a protein that is made by the immune system. The body uses IL-6 to manage infections. It also plays a major role in the signs and symptoms of RA. People with RA have too much IL-6.
How is Tocilizumab used?
Tocilizumab can be used concomitantly with MTX or as monotherapy in cases of intolerance to MTX or where continued treatment with MTX is inappropriate.
How is Tocilizumab given?
- It is administered by an intravenous infusion with a needle. One dose will take 1 hour to infuse into a vein, most likely in your arm. Dosing is based on your weight, so each person’s dose may be different. Your doctor may change your dose based on how well Tocilizumab works for you.
- Tocilizumab is given every 4 weeks.
Can I get pregnant while take this medication?
- Tocilizumab has not been studied in pregnancy. Let your doctor know if you are planning to get pregnant or if you are breastfeeding.
What are the possible side effects of this medication?
- Patients treated with Tocilizumab are at increased risk for developing serious infections leading to hospitalization or death including tuberculosis (TB), bacterial, invasive fungal, viral and other opportunistic infections.
- Tocilizumabcan rarely cause an allergic reaction during the infusion.
- Tocilizumab has rarely been associated with an injury to the bowel (holes in the wall of the bowel). Let your doctor know if you develop stomach pain during your treatment with Tocilizumab.
- The impact of treatment with Tocilizumab on demyelinating disorders is not known, but multiple sclerosis and chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy were reported rarely in clinical studies.
- The impact of treatment with Tocilizumab on the development of malignancies is not known, but malignancies were observed in clinical studies.
What should I do if I have to do surgery while taken Tocilizumab?
Tocilizumab should be stopped before surgery. If you are having surgery, talk to your doctor about when to stop the Tocilizumab.
What Should I know before starting Tocilizumab?
Before starting Tocilizumab, tell your doctor if you:
• Have an infection or are being treated for an infection
• Have skin infections with open sores
• Get a lot of infections
• Have diabetes or other conditions that increase the chance for infections
• Have tuberculosis (TB), or if you have been in close contact with someone who has had TB.
Do I have to get tested for TB before starting this medication?
All patients should have a tuberculosis skin test & chest x-ray before starting Tocilizumab.
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