This medication may lower your ability to fight an infection. This may make you more likely to get a serious (rarely fatal) infection or make any infection you have worse. Your risk may be increased if you are also taking other drugs that can lower your ability to fight an infection (such as methotrexate or corticosteroids). Before using tocilizumab, tell your doctor your medical history, especially of any kind of infection. During treatment, tell your doctor right away if you develop any signs of infection (such as cough, sore throat, fever, chills, pain when urinating).
Before starting this medication, your doctor should test you for tuberculosis (TB). Your doctor should monitor you for symptoms of TB during treatment with this drug. If needed, treatment for tuberculosis or other infections should be given before receiving this medication.
This medication is used alone or with other medications to treat moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis in adults. It is also used to treat rheumatoid arthritis in children (such as systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis-SJIA, polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis-PJIA). It helps to reduce pain and swelling due to rheumatoid arthritis. Tocilizumab may also be used to treat a reaction (Cytokine Release Syndrome-CRS) caused by certain cancer treatments. Tocilizumab belongs to a class of drugs known as Interleukin-6 (IL-6) blockers. It works by blocking IL-6, a substance made by the body that causes swelling (inflammation).
How to use
Read the Medication Guide provided by your pharmacist before you start using tocilizumab and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
This medication is given by a health care professional as directed by your doctor. It is given by slow injection into a vein for 60 minutes. For the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis in adults or PJIA, this medication is usually given every 4 weeks. For the treatment of SJIA, this medication is usually given every 2 weeks. For the treatment of CRS, this medication is given once and then as directed by your doctor if more doses are needed.
The dosage is based on your medical condition, age, weight, laboratory tests, and response to treatment. Use this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, mark the days on a calendar when you need to receive the medication.
Tell your doctor if your condition does not improve or if it worsens.
See also Warning section.
Headache or pain/redness/swelling at the injection site may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including:
- stomach/abdominal pain
Tocilizumab has rarely caused very serious (possibly fatal) liver disease. This effect may occur months to years after starting this medication. Tell your doctor right away if you develop symptoms of liver disease, such as nausea/vomiting that doesn't stop, loss of appetite, yellowing eyes/skin, dark urine.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including:
- itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat)
- severe dizziness
- trouble breathing
This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
Not applicable. This medication is given in a clinic and will not be stored at home.