Actemra, also known by its drug name, Tocilizumab, is a prescription medication approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat adults with moderate-to-severe rheumatoid arthritis that has not adequately responded to other medications.
Actemra is an immunomodulator, or in other words, a drug that modulates the immune system. It is also considered a biologic. It is a genetically engineered antibody, or protein used by the immune system to identify and neutralize substances. Actemra is believed to work by interfering with a cytokine, a chemical involved in autoimmune attacks.
How do I take it?
Actemra is administered as a subcutaneous injection or an intravenous infusion. As an injection, Actemra is administered every two weeks. As an intravenous infusion, Actemra is administered once a month.
Rare but serious side effects of Actemra include gastrointestinal perforations and infusion reactions.
Common side effects of Actemra include headache, upper respiratory infection, raised cholesterol, unusual liver test results, high blood pressure, sinus congestion, mild stomach cramps, and inflammation of the nose or nasal passages.
You may be more likely to contract infections, including serious infections, due to decreased immune system function while taking Actemra. Contact your doctor if you develop signs of infection such as fever, cough, trouble breathing, white patches in the mouth, or unusual vaginal discharge.
For answers to frequently asked questions about exposure to Actemra during pregnancy and breastfeeding, visit the experts at MothertoBaby.org.