Tocilizumab is a drug used to treat the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile idiopathic arthritis. It is given once or twice a month, as a 60-minute IV infusion. Common side effects include headaches, infections, and high blood pressure. Before using this medicine, let your healthcare provider know if you have any health conditions, such as diabetes, cancer, or high cholesterol.
What Is Tocilizumab?
Tocilizumab (Actemra®) is a prescription medication approved for treating the following conditions:
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
- Systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (SJIA)
- Polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (PJIA).
Specifically, it is approved for treating moderate-to-severe active rheumatoid arthritis in adults who have not responded well to one or more disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) therapies. It is also approved to treat active systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis and polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis in people age two years and older.
(Click What Is Tocilizumab Used For? for more information on what the medication is used for, including possible off-label uses. This article also lists the various TNF blockers.)
Are There Side Effects?
As with any medicine, tocilizumab may cause side effects. However, not everyone who takes the drug will experience side effects. In fact, many people tolerate it quite well.
If side effects do occur, in most cases, they are minor and either require no treatment or are easily treated by you or your healthcare provider. Serious side effects are less common, but do sometimes occur.
Some of the most common side effects include but are not limited to:
- High liver enzymes (found using a blood test)
- High blood pressure (hypertension).
(Click Side Effects of Tocilizumab to learn more, including potentially serious side effects that you should report immediately to your healthcare provider.)