- Rheumatoid Arthritis Slideshow Pictures
- Take the RA Quiz
- Joint-Friendly Exercises to Reduce RA Pain Slideshow
- What is tocilizumab, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for tocilizumab?
- Is tocilizumab available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for tocilizumab?
- What are the side effects of tocilizumab?
- What is the dosage for tocilizumab?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with tocilizumab?
- Is tocilizumab safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about tocilizumab?
What is tocilizumab, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
Tocilizumab is an injectable synthetic (man-made) protein that binds to interleukin-6 (IL-6) in the body and blocks the effects of IL-6 in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Inflammation is the body's reaction to injury and is a necessary process for the repair of injury. IL-6 is a protein that the body produces when there is inflammation. IL-6 promotes inflammation and the signs of inflammation, which, in the case of arthritis, includes fever as well as pain, tenderness, and swelling of the joints. The unchecked inflammation of rheumatoid arthritis eventually leads to destruction of the joints. Tocilizumab binds to IL-6 in the body and thereby blocks the effects of IL-6. As a result, inflammation and its consequences in the joints are reduced, and the progressive destruction of the joints is slowed or prevented. The FDA approved tocilizumab in January 2010.
What brand names are available for tocilizumab?
Is tocilizumab available as a generic drug?
Do I need a prescription for tocilizumab?
What are the side effects of tocilizumab?
The most common adverse effects of tocilizumab in clinical studies were:
- respiratory tract infections,
- hypertension (high blood pressure), and
- elevations in liver tests suggesting liver injury.
Individuals with active infections should not be treated with tocilizumab. Tocilizumab may worsen or cause new diseases of the nervous system. In studies, some patients who used tocilizumab developed cancer. Other side effects include:
- reduced levels of white blood cells or platelets,
- reactivation of herpes zoster infection (shingles), and
- hypersensitivity (allergic) reactions.
Quick GuideRheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Symptoms & Treatment
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
Need help identifying pills and medications?
Use the pill identifier tool on RxList.