Compare Rituxan vs. Actemra

Head-to-head comparisons of medication uses, side effects, ratings, and more.


Rituxan (Rituximab)

Prescription only

Actimmune (tocilizumab)

Prescription only
Calms down your immune system.

Rituxan (Rituximab) is effective for treating multiple types of cancer and arthritis. That said, you'll need to watch for possibly serious side effects, especially infusion reactions.

Calms down the immune system and helps prevent joint damage.

Actimmune (tocilizumab) effectively relieves pain and prevents joint damage. You can get it as a shot or an infusion, but it may not be the best choice if you have liver problems.

  • Treats leukemia, lymphoma, and blood vessel inflammation.
  • Also treats moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis that hasn't responded to anti-TNF treatment (but you'll need to take methotrexate too).
  • The chance of having a reaction to the infusion is highest during your first dose, but the risk decreases each time you get Rituxan (Rituximab). It usually happens within 30 minutes to 2 hours after starting the infusion.
  • Rituxan (Rituximab) is a targeted therapy that works differently than chemotherapy. Both work well when they're taken together, especially when treating CLL and NHL.
  • In studies, Actimmune (tocilizumab) lowered joint pain and slowed down joint damage better than a placebo in people who didn't have earlier success with methotrexate.
  • Actimmune (tocilizumab) can work for you even if methotrexate or other medications haven't improved your rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Many people have only minor side effects, or none at all.
  • Only your doctor or other trained medical staff can administer Rituxan (Rituximab), so you'll need to go into an office or clinic for every dose.
  • Not the best choice if you have heart problems.
  • Rituxan (Rituximab) can stay in your body for up to 6 months after you complete treatment. Men and women who are able to have children need to use birth control for up to one year after finishing Rituxan (Rituximab).
  • Discuss with your doctor the serious heart, kidney, liver, or stomach problems that can happen while on Rituxan (Rituximab).
  • Since Actimmune (tocilizumab) calms down your immune system, it raises your risk of serious or possibly life-threatening infections, including TB (tuberculosis).
  • Actimmune (tocilizumab) doesn't come in a pill form - it has to be used as an injection or infusion.
  • You'll need to get blood tests done before and during your treatment to make sure no problems arise while taking Actimmune (tocilizumab).
  • This drug may not be the best choice if you have liver problems.
  • There is no generic form of the drug, so it can be expensive.
Used for
Dosage forms
  • Infusion (IV)
  • Infusion
  • Injection
No pricing information available
No pricing information available
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Side effects
4possible side effects
  • Any infection
  • Infusion reaction
  • Any serious infection
  • Cardiac side effect
See more detailed side effects
9possible side effects
  • Upper airway infection (URTI)
  • Headache
  • Nasopharyngitis (cold)
  • High blood pressure
  • Bronchitis (airway inflammation)
  • Rash
  • ALT increase (liver test change)
  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Dizziness
See more detailed side effects
Risks and risk factors
  • Serious allergic reactions
  • Serious infections
    • Taking other immunosuppressant drugs
    • Age 60 or older
    • Weak immune system
  • Nervous system effects
    • Taking Rituxan (Rituximab) with immunosuppressant drugs (if using for RA)
    • Taking Rituxan (Rituximab) with chemotherapy (if using for NHL or CLL
    • Stem cell transplant
  • Skin and mouth reactions
  • Kidney injury
    • Taking Rituxan (Rituximab) for Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma (NHL)
    • Rapidly growing tumors
  • Heart problems
    • History of heart problems
    • Drug interactions
  • Gastrointestinal problems
    • Start of therapy with Rituxan (Rituximab)
  • Blood problems
See more detailed risks and warnings
  • Risk of serious or life-threatening infection
    • Diabetes, HIV, or other medical conditions that cause a weak immune system
    • Taking other immunosuppressant medications
    • Had TB or were exposed to TB in the past
  • Stomach and intestinal problems
    • History of diverticulitis
  • Blood test changes
  • Serious allergic reactions
  • Cancer
  • Live vaccines
See more detailed risks and warnings