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Medications > Tocilizumab IV | Actemra IV > Tocilizumab IV | Actemra | Pictopamphlet

TOCILIZUMAB IV (Actemra) [Toss-ill-IZZ-you-mab]

How to use this medication

What is it

Some people with arthritis have too much IL-6.  IL-6 is a protein found in the body that can cause pain and swelling in the joints. Tocilizumab is a biologic medicine that blocks IL-6 and helps the pain and swelling of arthritis.

Given by intravenous (IV) infusion

Tocilizumab is given by an intravenous infusion (IV) by a trained nurse.  Each infusion takes about an hour.

Take it once every 4 weeks

Tocilizumab is given once every four (4) weeks.

Give it some time

Although some patients can feel better quite quickly after receiving the medication, in others it can take a little longer.

What you need to do

Get regular blood tests

Have your blood tested regularly (your doctor will tell you how often). This is important to make sure toclilizumab isn’t affecting your liver, blood counts, or cholesterol levels.

Don’t get pregnant or breastfeed

Tocilizumab has not been studied in pregnancy.  Let your doctor know if you are planning to get pregnant or if you are breastfeeding.

Don’t take if you have an infection

Tocilizumab can make it harder for you to fight off infections. Call your doctor if:

  • You develop a fever
  • You think you have an infection
  • You are given antibiotics to treat an infection

Get tested for tuberculosis

All patients should have a tuberculosis skin test & chest
x-ray before starting Tocilizumab.  Talk to your doctor.

Side effects & important things to know

Infusion reaction

Tocilizumab can rarely cause an allergic reaction during the infusion.

Bowel injury

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.

Cancer

Very rare cases of cancer have been seen in patients receiving Tocilizumab.  It is not known if Tocilizumab causes cancer.  Tell your doctor if you have had cancer in the past.

Other very rare side effects

Patients have very rarely developed conditions of the nervous system while taking Tocilizumab.

Surgery

Tocilizumab should be stopped before surgery.  It can be restarted once things have healed and there is no sign of infection.  If you are having surgery, talk to your doctor about when to stop the Tocilizumab.

When should I call my doctor

Please call if you need to stop

  • If you are concerned about any side effects
  • If you want to or have already decided to stop the medicine

Other Reasons to Call your Doctor:

Fever or think you have an infection

If you are having surgery

If you become pregnant

If you plan to get any vaccinations

If you develop a rash