Treats moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis. Also treats polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (PJIA) and systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (SJIA).
There may be other brand names for this medicine.
When This Medicine Should Not Be Used
You should not receive this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to tocilizumab or if you have an active infection.
How to Use This Medicine
- Your doctor will prescribe your exact dose and tell you how often it should be given. This medicine is given through a needle placed in one of your veins.This medicine must be given slowly, so the needle will remain in place for at least 1 hour.
- A nurse or other trained health professional will give you this medicine.
- This medicine should come with a Medication Guide. Read and follow these instructions carefully. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions. Ask your pharmacist for the Medication Guide if you do not have one.
If a dose is missed:
- This medicine needs to be given on a fixed schedule. If you miss a dose, call your doctor for instructions.
Drugs and Foods to Avoid
Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.
- Make sure your doctor knows if you use cyclosporine (Gengraf®, Neoral®, Sandimmune®), methotrexate (Trexall®), omeprazole (Prilosec®), theophylline (Theo-Dur®), medicine to lower cholesterol (such as atorvastatin, lovastatin, simvastatin, Lipitor®, Vytorin®), an NSAID pain or arthritis medicine (such as aspirin, diclofenac, ibuprofen, naproxen, Advil®, Aleve®, Celebrex®, Voltaren®), a blood thinner (such as warfarin, Coumadin®, Jantoven®), or birth control pills. Tell your doctor if you use medicines that weaken your immune system, such as cancer medicines or steroids (such as hydrocortisone, methylprednisolone, prednisolone, prednisone).
- Make sure your doctor knows if you also use other medicines to treat rheumatoid arthritis (such as abatacept, adalimumab, anakinra, certolizumab, etanercept, golimumab, infliximab, rituximab, Cimzia®, Enbrel®, Humira®, Kineret®, Orencia®, Remicade®, Rituxan®, Simponi®).
- Talk to your doctor before getting flu shots or other vaccines while you are receiving this medicine. Vaccines may not work as well, or they could make you ill while you are using this medicine.Your child's vaccines need to be current before he or she begins using tocilizumab. Ask your child's doctor if you have questions about this.
Warnings While Using This Medicine
- Make sure your doctor knows if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you have diabetes, HIV or AIDS, an infection, high cholesterol, liver disease (including hepatitis B), multiple sclerosis, stomach or bowel problems (such as diverticulosis, perforations, ulcers), or an immune system problem. Tell your doctor if you have tuberculosis (TB), a history of TB, or have been in close contact with someone who has active TB.
- You will need to have a skin test for tuberculosis before you start receiving this medicine. Tell your doctor if you or anyone in your home has ever had a positive reaction to a tuberculosis skin test.
- This medicine lowers the number of some types of blood cells in your body. Because of this, you may bleed or get infections more easily. To help with these problems, avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Wash your hands often. Stay away from rough sports or other situations where you could be bruised, cut, or injured. Brush and floss your teeth gently. Be careful when using sharp objects, including razors and fingernail clippers.
- This medicine may increase your risk of cancer. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about this risk.
- You may get infections more easily while you use this medicine. Call your doctor right away if you have symptoms of an infection, such as fever, chills, or a cough.
- This medicine may cause serious stomach and bowel problems, especially if you have a history of ulcers or diverticulosis. Check with your doctor right away if you have severe stomach cramps or pain, black, tarry stools, diarrhea, fever, or vomiting while being treated with this medicine.
- Your doctor will need to check your blood at regular visits while you are using this medicine. Be sure to keep all appointments.
Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine
Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:
- Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
- Bloody, black, or tarry stools
- Change in how much or how often you urinate
- Chest pain
- Fast, slow, or pounding heartbeat
- Fever, chills, cough, stuffy or runny nose, sore throat, and body aches
- Severe stomach pain
- Trouble breathing
- Vomiting of material that looks like coffee grounds
If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:
- Pain, itching, burning, swelling, bleeding, or a lump under your skin where the needle was placed