Actemra (Tocilizumab (Subcutaneous))

Name: Actemra (Tocilizumab (Subcutaneous))

Uses of Actemra

  • It is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis.
  • It is used to treat a certain artery problem called giant cell arteritis (GCA).
  • It may be given to you for other reasons. Talk with the doctor.

What do I need to tell my doctor BEFORE I take Actemra?

  • If you have an allergy to tocilizumab or any other part of this medicine.
  • If you are allergic to any drugs like this one, any other drugs, foods, or other substances. Tell your doctor about the allergy and what signs you had, like rash; hives; itching; shortness of breath; wheezing; cough; swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat; or any other signs.
  • If you have liver disease or raised liver enzymes.
  • If you have an infection.
  • If you are taking any of these drugs: Abatacept, adalimumab, anakinra, certolizumab, etanercept, golimumab, infliximab, or rituximab.

This is not a list of all drugs or health problems that interact with Actemra.

Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all of your drugs (prescription or OTC, natural products, vitamins) and health problems. You must check to make sure that it is safe for you to take this medicine with all of your drugs and health problems. Do not start, stop, or change the dose of any drug without checking with your doctor.

What are some things I need to know or do while I take Actemra?

  • Tell all of your health care providers that you take Actemra. This includes your doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.
  • Very bad and sometimes deadly allergic side effects have rarely happened. Talk with your doctor.
  • You may have more chance of getting an infection. Wash hands often. Stay away from people with infections, colds, or flu.
  • Hepatitis B testing may be done. A hepatitis B infection may get worse during care.
  • This medicine may add to the chance of getting some types of cancer. Talk with the doctor.
  • Have blood work checked as you have been told by the doctor. Talk with the doctor.
  • Make sure you are up to date with all your vaccines before treatment with this medicine.
  • Talk with your doctor before getting any vaccines. Use with Actemra may either raise the chance of an infection or make the vaccine not work as well.
  • If you have high blood sugar (diabetes), talk with your doctor. You may be more likely to get infections.
  • You may bleed more easily. Be careful and avoid injury. Use a soft toothbrush and an electric razor.
  • Treatment with this medicine may lead to higher cholesterol and triglycerides. The effect of these changes on heart health is not known. Talk with the doctor.
  • This medicine may affect how much of some other drugs are in your body. If you are taking other drugs, talk with your doctor. You may need to have your blood work checked more closely while taking Actemra with your other drugs.
  • If you are 65 or older, use this medicine with care. You could have more side effects.
  • Birth control pills and other hormone-based birth control may not work as well to prevent pregnancy. Use some other kind of birth control also like a condom when taking Actemra.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan on getting pregnant. You will need to talk about the benefits and risks of using this medicine while you are pregnant.
  • If you used Actemra (tocilizumab (subcutaneous)) when you were pregnant, tell your baby's doctor.
  • Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding. You will need to talk about any risks to your baby.

What are some side effects that I need to call my doctor about right away?

WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Signs of infection like fever, chills, very bad sore throat, ear or sinus pain, cough, more sputum or change in color of sputum, pain with passing urine, mouth sores, or wound that will not heal.
  • Signs of bleeding like throwing up blood or throw up that looks like coffee grounds; coughing up blood; blood in the urine; black, red, or tarry stools; bleeding from the gums; vaginal bleeding that is not normal; bruises without a reason or that get bigger; or any bleeding that is very bad or that you cannot stop.
  • Signs of liver problems like dark urine, feeling tired, not hungry, upset stomach or stomach pain, light-colored stools, throwing up, or yellow skin or eyes.
  • Signs of high blood pressure like very bad headache or dizziness, passing out, or change in eyesight.
  • Signs of nervous system problems like change in mood or actions, feeling confused, fever, numbness or tingling in the hands or feet, stiff neck, bright lights bother your eyes, or very bad muscle weakness.
  • A skin lump or growth.
  • Change in color or size of a mole.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Chest pain or pressure.
  • Very upset stomach or throwing up.
  • Change in bowel habits.
  • Tears in the stomach or bowel wall have happened in certain people taking this medicine. Call your doctor right away if you have swelling or pain in your stomach that is very bad, gets worse, or does not go away. Call your doctor right away if you throw up blood or have throw up that looks like coffee grounds; upset stomach or throwing up that does not go away; or black, tarry, or bloody stools.

What are some other side effects of Actemra?

All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:

  • Headache.
  • Signs of a common cold.
  • Nose and throat irritation.
  • Irritation where the shot is given.

These are not all of the side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, call your doctor. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088. You may also report side effects at http://www.fda.gov/medwatch.

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