Actimmune

(tocilizumab)

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Calms down the immune system and helps prevent joint damage.

Skip Upsides & Downsides section. Skip to side effects section.

Our bottom line

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.

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    $51964.10
Quick facts about Actemra
  • Drug class: autoimmune
  • Rx status: Prescription only
  • Generic status: No lower cost generic available

Upsides

  • 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.
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What to expect from Actemra, on one page

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Downsides

  • 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.
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What to expect from Actemra, on one page

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How it works

Actimmune (tocilizumab) is a biologic drug. It belongs to a group of drugs called DMARDs (disease-modifying anti-rheumatic drug). Actimmune (tocilizumab) stops IL-6 (interleukin-6), a protein that revs up the immune system, from working. Actimmune (tocilizumab) lowers inflammation, relieves symptoms, and prevents the disease from getting worse.

Quick facts about Actemra
  • Drug class: autoimmune
  • Rx status: Prescription only
  • Generic status: No lower cost generic available

Used for

  • Rheumatoid Arthritis (moderate to severe)
  • Polyarticular Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis
  • Systemic Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

Dosage forms

  • Infusion
  • Injection
Tried Actemra? Write a review!

Prices and coupons

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What to expect when you take Actimmune (tocilizumab) for Rheumatoid arthritis

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  • First few hoursHours
    First few daysDays
    First few weeksWeeks
    First few monthsMonths
  • Effectiveness
  • Starts to kick in
    Full effects
  • First few hoursHours
    First few daysDays
    First few weeksWeeks
    First few monthsMonths
  • Possible side effects
  • Injection site reactions
  • Infections
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Side effect rates for Actimmune (tocilizumab)

From 1944 clinical trials of Actemra when taken for rheumatoid arthritis (4 mg/kg)
  • Upper airway infection (URTI)
    6%6%
    6%6%
  • Headache
    6%6%
    3%3%
  • Nasopharyngitis (cold)
    4%4%
    4%4%
  • High blood pressure
    4%4%
    3%3%
  • Bronchitis (airway inflammation)
    4%4%
    3%3%
  • Rash
    4%4%
    1%1%
  • ALT increase (liver test change)
    3%3%
    1%1%
  • Upper abdominal pain
    3%3%
    2%2%
  • Dizziness
    2%2%
    2%2%
0%
10%
20%
30%
40%
50%
60%
70%
80%
Where we got our data »

The placebo bar shows how common a side effect was for people taking a sugar pill instead of Actemra.

Actimmune (tocilizumab)
Placebo

People taking Actemra felt side effect more

People taking Actemra felt side effect less

No difference

Risks and Warnings for Actimmune (tocilizumab)

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    • Higher risk if:
    • 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

    Actimmune (tocilizumab) makes it harder for your immune system to fight infections. It increases the risk of serious or life-threatening infections, including TB (tuberculosis). Let your doctor know if you have a fever, cough, red or painful skin sores, stomach pain, or pain when you urinate. You'll need to have a TB (tuberculosis) test before starting Actimmune (tocilizumab).

    This is a black box warning. The FDA requires this warning when there is a significant risk of serious or life-threatening effects that anyone taking the drug should consider.

Means that some groups have a high risk of experiencing this side effect

Common concerns from people taking Actimmune (tocilizumab)

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Pregnancy

Research studies with animals found harmful effects on unborn babies. It hasn’t been properly studied in humans. The benefits might outweigh the risks even if you’re pregnant. Talk with your doctor.

Tip: Always talk with your doctor before you take any medication while pregnant.
FDA pregnancy category for Actemra
CWeigh risks vs. benefits
Kidneys and liver
  • This drug may not be the best choice if you have liver problems.
Pain
  • Actimmune (tocilizumab) makes it harder for your immune system to fight infections. It increases the risk of serious or life-threatening infections, including TB (tuberculosis). Let your doctor know if you have a fever, cough, red or painful skin sores, stomach pain, or pain when you urinate. You'll need to have a TB (tuberculosis) test before starting Actimmune (tocilizumab).
  • 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.