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  • Generic Name: (tocilizumab)
    Other Brands: N/A
  • Last Revised: 02/2015
    • What is this medication and its most common uses?

      Actemra is a medicine used to treat rheumatoid arthritis (a type of arthritis that involves inflammation of the joints). Actemra is used to treat certain types of arthritis called polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis and systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis in children. Actemra can be administered intravenously (directly into a vein) or subcutaneously (just below the skin).

    • What should I know when beginning and continuing on this medication?

      How does this medication work?

      Actemra works by blocking certain substances in your body that cause inflammation, thereby improving your symptoms.

      What are the beneficial effects of this medication and when should I begin to have results?

      What: Actemra has been shown to reduce symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis and relieve swollen and tender joints.

      When: Everyone responds differently to treatment, so try to be patient and follow your healthcare provider's directions. It is important that you use Actemra exactly as your healthcare provider has prescribed.

      How do I know it is working?

      You may feel an improvement in your symptoms once you begin using Actemra. This is a good indicator that your medication is working. Your healthcare provider may ask you questions to assess how well your symptoms are controlled.

    • What are the possible side effects of this medication?

      The following is not a full list of side effects. Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, tell your healthcare provider as soon as possible. Only your healthcare provider can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking this medication.

      Actemra is a medicine that affects your immune system. Actemra can lower the ability of your immune system to fight infections. Serious infections have occurred in people using Actemra. These infections include tuberculosis (TB) (a bacterial infection that affects the lungs) and infections caused by viruses, fungi, or bacteria that have spread throughout the body. Your healthcare provider should test you for TB before starting Actemra and monitor you closely for signs and symptoms of TB during treatment with Actemra. Do not start using Actemra if you have any kind of infection without first talking to your healthcare provider. Tell your healthcare provider if you experience a cough that does not go away, low grade fever, or warm, red, or painful skin while you are using or after you stop using Actemra.

      More common side effects may include: upper respiratory infection, common cold, headache, high blood pressure, injection-site reactions.

      Less common side effects may include:

      Tears in your stomach or intestines, with symptoms such as fever, abdominal (stomach area) pain that does not go away, or a change in your bowel habits.

      Serious allergic reactions, with symptoms such as shortness of breath or trouble breathing; swelling of your lips, tongue, or face; chest pain; feeling dizzy or faint; or abdominal pain or vomiting.

      Increased risk of certain cancers.

    • Who should not take this medication?

      Do not use Actemra if you are allergic to it or any of its ingredients.

    • What should I tell my healthcare provider before I take the first dose of this medication?

      Tell your healthcare provider about all prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal medications you are taking before beginning treatment with Actemra. Also, talk to your healthcare provider about your complete medical history, especially if you have liver problems, abdominal pain or have been diagnosed with ulcers in your stomach or intestine, an infection, have or have had a condition that affects your nervous system (such as multiple sclerosis), if you recently received or are scheduled to receive a vaccine, if you plan to have surgery, or if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

    • What is the usual dosage?

      The information below is based on the dosage guidelines your healthcare provider uses. Depending on your condition and medical history, your healthcare provider may prescribe a different regimen. Do not change the dosage or stop taking your medication without your healthcare provider's approval.

      Rheumatoid Arthritis (Intravenous and Subcutaneous Administration)

      Adults: Your healthcare provider will prescribe the appropriate dose for you based on your weight.

      Polyarticular and Systemic Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (Intravenous Administration Only)

      Children ≥2 years: Your healthcare provider will prescribe the appropriate dose for your child based on his/her weight.

    • How should I take this medication?

      Your healthcare provider will administer Actemra intravenous injection for you. If you are using Actemra subcutaneous injection, your healthcare provider may administer the first dose and properly train you on how to self-administer the medicine.

      It is important to rotate injection sites with each injection. Do not inject into moles, scars, or areas where the skin is tender, bruised, red, hard, or not intact.

    • What should I avoid while taking this medication?

      Do not miss any scheduled follow-up appointments with your healthcare provider.

      Do not attempt to self-administer Actemra unless you have been taught how by your healthcare provider.

      Do not receive live vaccines (such as live flu vaccine or shingles vaccine) while you are being treated with Actemra.

    • What are the possible food and drug interactions associated with this medication?

      If Actemra is used with certain drugs, the effects of either could be increased, decreased, or altered. Actemra may interact with numerous medications. Therefore, it is very important that you tell your healthcare provider about any other medications are you taking.

    • May I receive this medication if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

      The effects of Actemra during pregnancy are unknown. Actemra may be found in your breast milk if you use it while breastfeeding. Do not breastfeed while you are using Actemra. Tell your healthcare provider immediately if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

      If you become pregnant while using Actemra, talk to your healthcare provider about registering with the Actemra pregnancy registry. The purpose of this registry is to collect information about the safety of this medicine during pregnancy.

    • What should I do if I miss a dose of this medication?

      Actemra should be given under special circumstances determined by your healthcare provider. If you miss your scheduled dose, contact your healthcare provider or pharmacist for advice.

    • How should I store this medication?

      Store in the refrigerator. Do not freeze. Protect from light.

    • Who should I contact in case of emergency or overdose?
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      In the event of a medical emergency call your doctor or 9-1-1 immediately. In the event of overdose, call your doctor or poison control for further instructions.
      National Poison Control#: Call 1-800-222-1222

      This PDR+ drug information has been developed by the Physicians’ Desk Reference Network (PDRN), a source of medication information trusted by doctors for over 65 years.

      This monograph summarizes the most important information about your medication and does not cover all the information you may need. If you have any questions or concerns or want to learn more about your medication, ask your healthcare provider; he/she will be able to provide answers to your questions. This medication should only be used by the patient for whom it was prescribed and should not be shared with other people.
    • Additional patient resources.
      back to top Use your PDR® Pharmacy Discount Card when you or a family member fills a prescription and ask for your PDR® Discount every
      time!
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    This discount plan is NOT insurance or a Medicare prescription drug plan. The plan is not intended as a substitute for insurance and does not meet creditable coverage requirements under state or federal law. The plan provides discounts at participating pharmacies on certain pharmaceutical supplies, prescription drugs, or medical equipment and supplies. The range of discounts will vary depending on the products received. Members are obligated to pay the pharmacy the entire amount of the discounted rate for such products at the point of sale. The plan does not pay pharmacies for products provided to members. No enrollment or periodic fees apply. The pharmacy may pay the plan a fee from amounts the pharmacy collects from the member. The discount plan organization is ProCare Pharmacy Benefit Manager, Inc.,1267 Professional Parkway, ProCare Office Park, Gainesville, GA 30507, 1-888-299-5383. Customer service is provided by PDR, LLC., 5 Paragon Drive, Montvale, NJ, 07645, 1-800-232-7379, www.pdr.net/DiscountCard, customerservice@pdr.net.