Actemra is an approved treatment for adults with moderate to severe active rheumatoid arthritis (RA), adults with giant cell arteritis (GCA), and children ages two and above with Polyarticular Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (PJIA) or Systemic Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (SJIA). Japan had first discovered Actemra containing Tocilizumab as a biological disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) that targets IL-6 receptors. Different trials and clinical studies have confirmed the safety and efficacy of Tocilizumab against rheumatoid arthritis. In rheumatoid arthritis, systemic inflammation causes swelling and pain of the joints.
What is the pathophysiology of rheumatoid arthritis?
The three inflammatory mediators like interleukin-1 (IL-1), interleukin-6 (IL-6), and tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) involve in rheumatoid arthritis. IL-1 and IL-6 are two cytokines. Among them, IL-6 involves in the triggering of osteoclasts, produces antibodies through its action on monocytes, neutrophils, T cells, and B cells. Thus, IL-6 contributes to inflammation. The persistent inflammation due to inflammatory mediators release causes bone or joints damage and restricts the physical function and daily activities of the affected patients.
How Actemra acts against arthritis?
Actemra containing Tocilizumab is a man-made antihuman interleukin-6 (IL-6) receptor monoclonal antibody. In rheumatoid arthritis condition, IL-6 connects to the cell to activate and contribute to the signs and symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis. But the administration of Actemra blocks IL-6 from connecting to the cell.
The route of administration of Actemra is an intravenous infusion that means the medicine directly infuses into the vein through injection. The dose is administered every four weeks for treating rheumatoid arthritis.
The dose of Actemra depends upon the patient’s body weight. For example, 162mg dose is administered every other week as a subcutaneous injection; whereas 162mg dose is injected subcutaneously every other week in patients under 100 kg body weights. However, the timing and dose are altered depending upon the patient’s age, disease condition, and body weight.
What are the side effects of Actemra?
Actemra can cause compromised immune functioning that leads to reduce fighting ability against infectious disease. The onset of infectious disease needs to stop the medication and contact immediately with the doctor. Every patient requires testing for tuberculosis before starting the Actemra treatment regimen. However, the risk of developing such infections is less frequent with this treatment regimen.
Intravenous infusion of Actemra can cause allergic reactions that can include fever and chills. But such incidence is also rare with this treatment regimen. But some patients have a complaint of an increased level of blood cholesterol. It is suggested that periodic monitoring of blood cholesterol levels can help to prevent complications. In case of test result detects a high cholesterol level then the doctor will prescribe you medicine to control this level.
Rarely, Actemra can cause bowel perforation that means a hole in the bowel wall. If the patient experiences abdominal pain, bloody bowel movements during Actemra therapy, or has a previous history of diverticulitis, then notify the doctor immediately.