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Precautions and Warnings With Tocilizumab

Specific Precautions and Warnings With Tocilizumab

Some warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to taking this drug include the following:
 
  • Tocilizumab may increase the risk of serious infections. Your healthcare provider may advise against taking tocilizumab if you currently have an infection or are prone to recurrent infections, if you have a condition that increases your risk for infections, or have possibly been exposed to a serious infection recently.
     
  • Your healthcare provider should test you for tuberculosis before you start tocilizumab. Even if you test negative for tuberculosis, your healthcare provider should carefully monitor you for signs and symptoms of tuberculosis during treatment with this medication.
     
  • During studies, rare cases of tears (perforations) in the stomach or intestines were reported. This was most common in people who had diverticulitis, had stomach or intestinal ulcers, or who were taking other medications that increased these risks (like corticosteroids, methotrexate, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs).
     
  • Medications like tocilizumab may increase the risk of cancer because they suppress the immune system. Make sure your healthcare provider knows if you have a history of cancer (or even just a family history of cancer).
     
  • You should probably not receive live vaccines while taking tocilizumab. Talk to your healthcare provider before receiving any vaccines while on tocilizumab.
     
  • Tocilizumab can potentially interact with a few other medications (see Drug Interactions With Tocilizumab).
     
  • Tocilizumab often causes increased liver enzymes (found using a standard blood test). Although mild cases are common and usually do not indicate any serious problems, this medication may need to be stopped in more severe cases.
     
  • Tocilizumab can increase LDL cholesterol ("bad cholesterol") levels.
     
  • As with many medications that are administered intravenously, serious allergic reactions to tocilizumab are possible. Your healthcare provider should be equipped to handle such situations before giving you this medication.
     
  • It is unknown how tocilizumab may affect people with multiple sclerosis (MS). There is a possibility that the medication may cause a worsening of MS. If you have MS, check with your healthcare provider before taking this medicine.
     
  • Tocilizumab is considered a pregnancy Category C medication. This means that it may not be safe for use during pregnancy, although the full risks are not currently known (see Actemra and Pregnancy).
     
  • It is unknown if tocilizumab passes through breast milk in humans. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start breastfeeding, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to taking the drug (see Actemra and Breastfeeding).
     
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