Tocilizumab

Tocilizumab

Where is Tocilizumab used?

Tocilizumab is a medication used for the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis. This belongs to the family of medications called a human monoclonal antibody. Tocilizumab helps reduce swelling in your blood vessels so blood can flow more easily. This is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

How does Tocilizumab work?

Tocilizumab is suppressing a part of the immune system and modifying the process of inflammation. This medication works in a similar way to the natural antibodies produced by our immune system. Our natural antibodies recognize foreign invaders and bind to them. It helps our immune system attack them and protect us from infections.

This medication specifically recognizes and binds to a protein produced by the body called interleukin-6. This protein is involved in producing inflammation and is establish at high levels in individuals with rheumatoid arthritis. By avoiding the action of interleukin-6, Tocilizumab decreases the inflammation and other symptoms of the condition. It reduces the rate of joint damage and improves the physical function of the joints. When treating arthritis, Tocilizumab is referred to as a disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD). 

How is Tocilizumab taken?

If you are using this medication to treat rheumatoid arthritis in adults, inject this under the skin as directed by your doctor. This is usually given by starting once every 2 weeks then increasing to once a week. The dosage will depend on your age, weight, medical condition, and response to the treatment.

Recommended injection sites included the abdomen or the front of your thigh. The outer area of the upper arms may also be used if another person is giving you the injection. Clean the injection site with rubbing alcohol before injecting each dose. Each time, you must change the injection site to reduce injury under the skin. Learn how to store and discard medical supplies safely.

What are the possible side effects of Tocilizumab?

  • Mild stomach cramps
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Sore throat
  • Sinus pain
  • Runny or stuffy nose

What are the precautions in using Tocilizumab?

  • You will need to have a blood test to check your liver function every 4-8 weeks for the first 6 months of treatment with this drug. It is followed by every 12 weeks after. 
  • Tocilizumab is used with caution in people with liver disease, carriers of hepatitis virus, severe kidney function, with low levels of white blood cells, history of recurrent or long-term infections, or conditions that increase the risk of getting infections. 
  • For people who have recently been receiving treatment that suppresses the activity of the immune system, with increased risk factors for cardiovascular diseases, inflammation in the gut or abdomen, history of or current cancer, and heavy smokers, this medication should also be used carefully. 
  • This is not recommended for use in people with active tuberculosis and severe active infections. 
  • This should also not be used in children and adolescents under 18 years old. 
  • Let your doctor know if you ever had an allergic reaction to this drug. Tell also if you have any allergies. This drug may contain an inactive ingredient that causes an allergic reaction.