Actemra (tocilizumab) is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis in adults. The drug is a biologic medication that helps with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis. Actemra is also approved to treat adults with giant cell arteritis (GCA), along with Polyarticular Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (PJIA) and Systemic Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (SJIA) in patients that are two years old and older.
Biologic medications, like Actemra, are proteins that have been designed in a laboratory to have an impact on the immune system. Actemra works by blocking the inflammatory protein IL-6. Blocking IL-6 helps to improve the joint pain and swelling that is experienced in patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Actemra also helps to deal with the other symptoms that are caused by inflammation.
More Information on Actemra Rheumatoid Arthritis Treatment
Actemra is taken as an intravenous infusion every four weeks. The drug is normally injected into either the abdomen or into the thigh. The injection site should be rotated with each injection so as not to irritate the injection site.
Response time to the drug will vary by patient. Some patients begin to experience improvements after a few weeks. Others may not see any change until after a few months.
The main side effect of Actemra is that it can lower the ability of the immune system to fight infections. If a patient develops an infection while on Actemra, they should stop taking the drug immediately and contact a doctor.
Some patients may experience an allergic reaction to Actemra. These symptoms would include fever and chills. However, this is a rare occurrence.
Actemra may also increase a patient’s cholesterol levels. If a patient’s cholesterol level becomes too high, they may need to stop taking Actemra.
Developing a bowel perforation, what is known as a hole in the bowel wall, may also occur while on Actemra, but this is rare.
Consult with your doctor to find out if Actemra is right for you.
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