What is this medicine?
TOCILIZUMAB (TOE si LIZ ue mab) is used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile idiopathic arthritis. It is also used to treat giant cell arteritis and cytokine release syndrome.
How should I use this medicine?
This medicine is for infusion into a vein or for injection under the skin. It is usually given by a health care professional in a hospital or clinic setting. If you get this medicine at home, you will be taught how to prepare and give this medicine. Use exactly as directed. Take your medicine at regular intervals. Do not take your medicine more often than directed.
It is important that you put your used needles and syringes in a special sharps container. Do not put them in a trash can. If you do not have a sharps container, call your pharmacist or healthcare provider to get one.
A special MedGuide will be given to you by the pharmacist with each prescription and refill. Be sure to read this information carefully each time.
Talk to your pediatrician regarding the use of this medicine in children. While the drug may be prescribed for children as young as 2 years for selected conditions, precautions do apply.
What side effects may I notice from receiving this medicine?
Side effects that you should report to your doctor or health care professional as soon as possible:
allergic reactions like skin rash, itching or hives, swelling of the face, lips, or tongue
changes in vision
feeling faint or lightheaded, falls
high blood pressure
signs and symptoms of infection like fever or chills; cough; sore throat; pain or trouble passing urine
signs and symptoms of liver injury like dark yellow or brown urine; general ill feeling or flu-like symptoms; light-colored stools; loss of appetite; nausea; right upper belly pain; unusually weak or tired; yellowing of the eyes or skin
tingling, numbness in the hands or feet
unusual bleeding or bruising
unusually weak or tired
Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your doctor or health care professional if they continue or are bothersome):
pain, redness, or irritation at site where injected
What may interact with this medicine?
Do not take this medicine with any of the following medications:
live virus vaccines
This medicine may also interact with the following medications:
biologic medicines such as abatacept, adalimumab, anakinra, certolizumab, etanercept, golimumab, infliximab, rituximab, secukinumab, ustekinumab
birth control pills
certain medicines for cholesterol like atorvastatin, lovastatin, and simvastatin
steroid medicines like prednisone or cortisone
What if I miss a dose?
It is important not to miss your dose. Call your doctor or health care professional if you are unable to keep an appointment. If you give yourself the medicine and you miss a dose, take it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, take only that dose. Do not take double or extra doses.
Where should I keep my medicine?
Keep out of the reach of children.
If you are using this medicine at home, you will be instructed on how to store this medicine. Throw away any unused medicine after the expiration date on the label.
What should I tell my health care provider before I take this medicine?
They need to know if you have any of these conditions:
hepatitis B or history of hepatitis B infection
high blood pressure
immune system problems
infection (especially a virus infection such as chickenpox, cold sores, or herpes)
low blood counts, like low white cell, platelet, or red cell counts
recently received or scheduled to receive a vaccination
scheduled to have surgery
stomach or intestine problems
tuberculosis, a positive skin test for tuberculosis, or have recently been in close contact with someone who has tuberculosis
an unusual or allergic reaction to tocilizumab, other medicines, foods, dyes, or preservatives
pregnant or trying to get pregnant
What should I watch for while using this medicine?
Your condition will be monitored carefully while you are receiving this medicine. Tell your doctor or healthcare professional if your symptoms do not start to get better or if they get worse. You may need blood work done while you are taking this medicine.
You will be tested for tuberculosis (TB) before you start this medicine. If your doctor prescribes any medicine for TB, you should start taking the TB medicine before starting this medicine. Make sure to finish the full course of TB medicine.
Call your doctor or health care professional for advice if you get a fever, chills or sore throat, or other symptoms of a cold or flu. Do not treat yourself. This drug decreases your body's ability to fight infections. Try to avoid being around people who are sick.
Talk to your doctor about your risk of cancer. You may be more at risk for certain types of cancers if you take this medicine.
January 18, 2019