- 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 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
What is the dosage for tocilizumab?
The recommended dose of tocilizumab is 4-8 mg/kg administered as a single 60 minute intravenous infusion every 4 weeks.
Which drugs or supplements interact with tocilizumab?
Tocilizumab has not been studied in combination with other similar drugs that block other chemicals that promote inflammation, for example, drugs that block TNF (for example, adalimumab [Humira]). Combining anakinra (Kineret), abatacept (Orencia), rituximab (Rituxan) with other antirheumatic drugs similar to tocilizumab resulted in a reduction in white blood cells in the blood (neutropenia), serious infections and no additional benefit. Tocilizumab may interfere with the effectiveness of vaccines. Live vaccines, including attenuated vaccines, should not be given to patients receiving tocilizumab.
Is tocilizumab safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
There are no adequate studies of tocilizumab in pregnant women.
It is not known whether tocilizumab is excreted in breast milk.
What else should I know about tocilizumab?
What preparations of tocilizumab are available?
Injection: 20 mg/ml
How should I keep tocilizumab stored?
Tocilizumab should be stored refrigerated at 2 to 8 C (36 to 46 F).
Medically reviewed by John P. Cunha, DO, FACOEP
FDA prescribing information for Actemra
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FDA prescribing information for Actemra
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ArthritisArthritis is inflammation of one or more joints. When joints are inflamed they can develop stiffness, warmth, swelling, redness and pain. There are over 100 types of arthritis, including osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, psoriatic arthritis, lupus, gout, and pseudogout.
Biologics Biologic Drug Class
A biologic drug is a product that is produced from living organisms or contain components of living organisms. Biologics include recombinant proteins, tissues, genes, allergens, cells, blood components, blood, and vaccines. Biologics are used to treat numerous disease and conditions, for example:
- Chronic migraine
- Hepatitis B
- Hemophilia Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) prophylaxis
- HPV prevention
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Inflammatory bowel disease
Side effects of biologics depend upon the specific biologic drug; however, common side effects may include:
- High blood glucose levels
Drug interactions, preparations, and pregnancy and breastfeeding information should be reviewed prior to administering these drugs.
Monoclonal antibodies or MABs are one type of biological therapy to treat certain types of cancer and arthritis; multiple sclerosis, heart disease, lupus, inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis); psoriasis; and transplant rejection. Common side effects include:
- High blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia)
Drug interactions, dosing, preparations, and pregnancy and breastfeeding safety information should be reviewed prior to using any medication.
Rheumatoid ArthritisRheumatoid arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints, the tissue around the joints, as well as other organs in the body. Because it can affect multiple other organs of the body, rheumatoid arthritis is referred to as a systemic illness and is sometimes called rheumatoid disease.
RA Friendly ExercisesRegular exercise boosts fitness and helps reverse joint stiffness for people with rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Our experts offer helpful exercises to get you started.
RA SlideshowWhat is rheumatoid arthritis (RA)? Learn about juvenile rheumatoid arthritis. Discover rheumatoid arthritis (RA) symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment.
Take the RA QuizHow is rheumatoid arthritis different from other forms of arthritis, such as osteoarthritis and gout? Take the Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) Quiz to rest your RA IQ.
Still's DiseaseStill's disease (systemic-onset juvenile rheumatoid arthritis) is a disorder characterized by inflammation with high fever spikes, fatigue, salmon-colored rash, and/or arthritis. Though there have been several theories regarding the cause(s) of Still's disease, the cause is not yet known. Many symptoms of Still's disease are often treatable with anti-inflammatory drugs.