tocilizumab, Actemra

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

Get a Grip on Rheumatoid Arthritis

GENERIC NAME: tocilizumab

BRAND NAME: Actemra

DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: 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.

GENERIC AVAILABLE: No

PRESCRIPTION: Yes

PREPARATIONS: Injection: 20 mg/ml

STORAGE: Tocilizumab should be stored refrigerated at 2 to 8 C (36 to 46 F).

PRESCRIBED FOR: Tocilizumab is used for treating adult patients with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis who have not adequately responded to one or more TNFα blockers (for example, adalimumab [Humira], certolizumab [Cimzia]). It may be used alone or combined with methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall) or other disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs.

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Rheumatoid Arthritis Symptoms and Treatment
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