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TOCILIZUMAB IV (Actemra) [Toss-ill-IZZ-you-mab]
How to use this medication
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.
Tocilizumab is given by an intravenous infusion (IV) by a trained nurse. Each infusion takes about an hour.
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
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.
Tocilizumab has not been studied in pregnancy. Let your doctor know if you are planning to get pregnant or if you are breastfeeding.
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
All patients should have a tuberculosis skin test & chest
x-ray before starting Tocilizumab. Talk to your doctor.
Side effects & important things to know
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.
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
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
- If you are concerned about any side effects
- If you want to or have already decided to stop the medicine