Table of Contents
- What is Actemra?
- Actemra composition
- History behind the Actemra
- How does Actemra work? (Actemra Mechanism of Action)
- How to Take Actemra?
- Common Actemra Dose
- When to Avoid Actemra?
- Actemra Side Effects
- Effects on organs
- Warnings and Precautions
- Reported Allergic Reactions
- Effect of Actemra on the menstrual cycle
- Drug Interactions To Be Careful About
- Interactions with laboratory procedures
- Shows Effects / Results in (How Long Does the Effect Stay?)
- Is Actemra Addictive?
- Can I have Actemra with alcohol?
- Can I have Actemra When Pregnant?
- Can I have Actemra when feeding a baby?
- Can I drive after taking Actemra?
- Effect of an overdose of Actemra
- Effect of using expired Actemra
- Effect of missing a dose of Actemra
- Storage requirements
What is Actemra?
Actemra is a prescription medicine used to treat moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis in adult patients and also used in several other health problems. With the recent spread of COVID-19 pandemic, the global pioneer in pharmaceuticals and diagnostics, Roche Pharma has started the global phase 3 clinical trials in collaboration with Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) on the potentiality of Actemra to treat COVID-19. Let’s explore more details about this medicine.
Actemra is composed of Tocilizumab as key ingredient. Tocilizumab is also known as Atlizumab which is an immunosuppressant medicine used in various autoimmune diseases. Actemra is manufactured by Roche Pharmaceuticals.
History behind the Actemra
Initial clinical development of Tocilizumab to treat rheumatoid arthritis was done in 1997 by Chugai Pharmaceuticals, a drug manufacturer in Japan. Clinical studies to treat Castleman’s disease and systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis were started in 2001 and 2002 respectively. Since then this medicine has got approvals for usage in various countries in different years respectively. FDA approved the Actemra in 2010. Actemra is also used as a combination therapy along with Methotrexate to treat RA. With recent COVID-19 pandemic, several countries including the United States have started doing the clinical trials to discover the solution for COVID-19 infection.
Roche Pharma recently got approval from the FDA to conduct clinical trials on effectiveness of Actemra and RoActemra and started its global 3rd phase of research on this. Apart from this, researches on various medicines are being conducted in various countries to find the solution for COVID-19.
Indications of Actemra
Actemra is prescribed to treat several diseases associated with auto immune system. Below mentioned are the indications of Actemra.
- Rheumatic arthritis (RA) in adults
- Giant cell arteritis (GCA) in adults
- Polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (PJIA)
- Systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis
- Cytokine release syndrome in children aged two years and above
How does Actemra work? (Actemra Mechanism of Action)
Actemra works by blocking the action of inflammation causing substance called interleukin-6 receptor (IL-6R) in the body.
How to Take Actemra?
Actemra is available in IV form and injection form and is administered by health care provider.
Dosage is based on the type of medicine administration like IV or subcutaneous and based on the patient body weight. In case of IV, the common initial dosage is 4mg/kg once in 4 weeks duration. In case of subcutaneous administration, an ideal dosage is 162mg which can vary based on the patient body weight and response level to the treatment and it is given in every alternate week.
This dosage details are for adult patients and pediatric dosage would differ based on the child’s body weight.
Dosage details provided here are for informational purposes only and shall not be taken as medical advice. Your doctor should decide the dosage of any medicine based on your condition.
When to Avoid Actemra?
Usage of Actemra is not advised in some health conditions. Mentioned below are some health conditions to be cautious about and avoid the usage of Actemra. This is not a comprehensive list and is important that you share your history with your doctor to avoid the complications.
- Latent Tuberculosis
- High cholesterol levels
- Low blood platelet count
- Low white blood cell count
- Prolonged infections
- Liver abnormalities
- Pneumonia induced by fungus called Pneumocystis Jirovecii
- Multiple sclerosis
Actemra Side Effects
Actemra may show some side effects in some patients. Below mentioned are some commonly possible side effects of Actemra.
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Sinus pain
- Sore throat
- Stomach cramps
- High blood pressure
- Blurred vision
- Buzzing in ears
- Shortness of breath
- Uneven heartbeats
- Allergic symptoms around the IV needle or at the injection site
- Urinary tract infections (UTI)
Effects of Actemra on organs
Usage of Actemra may show some adverse effects in some patients like upper respiratory tract infections like common cold and sinus infections and abnormal liver blood tests. Temporary increase in blood pressure, dizziness and rashes are few other issues some patients may suffer.
Warnings and Precautions
It is not advised to use the Actemra (Tocilizumab) if the patient is suffering from an active infection including any local infections which may increase the infection further which may lead to hospitalization or even death.
Reported Allergic Reactions of Actemra
Actemra may cause allergic reaction in some patients and is advised to contact the emergency department or your doctor in case you notice any allergic reactions. Below mentioned are examples of reported allergic reaction.
- Chest pain
- Difficulty breathing
- Swelling of facial organs and throat
Effect of Actemra on the menstrual cycle
Limited data is available on the effect of Actemra on the menstrual cycle. Consult your doctor for further information on the effect of this medicine on menstrual cycle.
Drug Interactions to Be Careful About
Actemra may possibly show drug interactions if used along with some other medicine. It is advised to share your current list of medicine including any OTC and vitamin supplements to avoid drug interaction complications. Below mentioned are some medicines that Actemra can show drug interactions.
Interactions of Actemra with laboratory procedures
A regular monitor on clinical test related to lipid levels, liver function tests, neutrophils and platelets count is advised while treating with Actemra and dosage adjustments are recommended based on these changes.
Shows Effects / Results in (How Long Does the Effect Stay?)
Actemra may take up to 6-12 weeks to show its effect.
Is Actemra Addictive?
No drug addiction is noticed in case of Actemra moreover it is administered with medical supervision only.
Can I have Actemra with alcohol?
There is no strict restriction to avoid alcohol consumption while under this medication. But in general, it is advised to limit the consumption of alcohol to 14 units a week distributed throughout the week rather than consuming larger quantities.
Can I have Actemra When Pregnant?
Limited controlled data is available on the effect of Actemra during pregnancy, and it is not known if the medicine can cause fatal harm to the fetus or mother.
Can I have Actemra when feeding a baby?
Limited data is available about the effect of this medicine that if this passes through the milk and affect infants. It is advised to use this in nursing mothers with caution.
Can I drive after taking Actemra?
Since it is not a daily dose or a self-administered medicine, and also it is taken once in 4 weeks, it is less likely to cause any discomfort. However, if you feel discomfort or dizziness after your scheduled dose administration, avoid driving or operating machinery that requires alertness.
Effect of an overdose of Actemra
There is a little chance of getting an overdose of this medicine as it is administered by the medical staff in most of the cases. In case of subcutaneous method if you are administering the medicine on your own, follow the instruction by your doctor. Consult your doctor or emergency medical help in case of overdose.
Effect of using expired Actemra
It is not advised to use an expired medicine. Dispose the expired medicine as per the medical norms.
Effect of missing a dose of Actemra
There is a minimal chance of missing a dose as it is administered with medical supervision. Contact your doctor in case you forget to attend for certain schedule.
It is advised to store the prefilled syringes in refrigerator away from moisture and light but not freeze the medicine.
Substitutes for Actemra
Your doctor may prescribe any of the below medications as an alternative to the Actemra based on your condition.
- Orencia (Abatacept as an active ingredient)
- Rituxan (Rituximab as an active ingredient)
Dr. Divya has been pursuing Dentistry for about 5 years now. Endodontics and Orthodontics are her areas of interest and she holds a BDS degree from Govt. Dental College, Vijayawada, AP. Besides pursuing her career as a Dentist, she is passionate about Technical writing and is spending her free time in writing medical articles to bring awareness and share medical knowledge to the public.