Uses of Tocilizumab Injection
Tocilizumab injection is used alone or in combination with other medications to relieve the symptoms of certain types of arthritis and other conditions including:
- rheumatoid arthritis (a condition in which the body attacks its own joints, causing pain, swelling, and loss of function) in people who have not been helped by other disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs),
- giant cell arteritis (a condition that causes swelling of blood vessels, especially in the scalp and head),
- polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (PJIA; a type of childhood arthritis that affects five or more joints during the first six months of the condition, causing pain, swelling, and loss of function) in children 2 years of age or older.
- systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (SJIA; a condition in children that causes inflammation in different areas of the body, causing fever, joint pain and swelling, loss of function, and delays in growth and development) in children 2 years of age or older,
- cytokine release syndrome (a severe and possibly life-threatening reaction) that occurs in adults and children 2 years of age or older after receiving certain immunotherapy infusions.
- Tocilizumab injection is in a class of medications called interleukin-6 (IL-6) receptor inhibitors. It works by blocking the activity of interleukin-6, a substance in the body that causes inflammation.
Side Effects of Tocilizumab Injection
- runny nose or sneezing
- redness, itching, pain, or swelling in the place where tocilizumab was injected
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms or those listed in the IMPORTANT WARNING section, call your doctor immediately or get emergency medical treatment:
- swelling of the eyes, face, lips, tongue, throat, arms, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
- difficulty breathing or swallowing
- chest pain
- dizziness or fainting
- fever, ongoing stomach-area pain, or change in bowel habits
- yellow eyes or skin; right upper abdominal pain; unexplained bruising or bleeding; loss of appetite; confusion; yellow or brown-colored urine; or pale stools
- Tocilizumab may increase the risk of developing certain types of cancer. Talk to your doctor about the risks of receiving this medication.
Tocilizumab injection may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while receiving this medication.
Warnings & Precautions
Before receiving tocilizumab injection:
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to tocilizumab, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in tocilizumab injection. Ask your pharmacist or check the Medication Guide for a list of the ingredients.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what other prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention the medications listed in the IMPORTANT WARNING section and any of the following: anticoagulants (‘blood thinners’) such as warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven); aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others) and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn, others); cholesterol-lowering medications (statins) such as atorvastatin (Lipitor, in Caduet), lovastatin (Altoprev, in Advicor), and simvastatin (Zocor, in Vytorin); oral contraceptives (birth control pills); or theophylline (Elixophyllin, Theo-24, others). Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects. Many other medications may also interact with tocilizumab injection, so be sure to tell your doctor about all the medications you are taking, even those that do not appear on this list.
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had cancer; diverticulitis (small pouches in the lining of the large intestine that can become inflamed); ulcers in your stomach or intestines; high cholesterol and triglycerides; any condition that affects the nervous system such as multiple sclerosis (MS; a disease in which the nerves do not function properly and people may experience weakness, numbness, loss of muscle coordination and problems with vision, speech, and bladder control) or chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy (CIDP; a disorder of the immune and nervous systems); or liver disease.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. If you become pregnant while receiving tocilizumab injection, call your doctor.
- if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are receiving tocilizumab injection.
- ask your doctor whether you should receive any vaccinations before you begin your treatment with tocilizumab injection. If possible, all vaccinations for children should be brought up to date before beginning treatment. Do not have any vaccinations during your treatment without talking to your doctor.
Tocilizumab injection comes as a solution (liquid) to be injected intravenously (into a vein) in your arm by a doctor or nurse in a medical office or hospital outpatient clinic or as a prefilled syringe to inject subcutaneously (under the skin) by yourself at home. When tocilizumab is given intravenously to treat rheumatoid arthritis or polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis, it is usually given once every 4 weeks. When tocilizumab is given intravenously to treat systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis, it is usually given once every 1 or 2 weeks. When tocilizumab is given intravenously to treat cytokine release syndrome, it is usually given once, but up to 3 additional doses may be given at least 8 hours apart. It will take about 1 hour for you to receive your dose of tocilizumab injection intravenously. When tocilizumab is given subcutaneously to treat rheumatoid arthritis or giant cell arteritis, it is usually given once weekly or once every other week.
You will receive your first subcutaneous dose of tocilizumab injection in your doctor’s office. If you will be injecting tocilizumab injection subcutaneously by yourself at home or having a friend or relative inject the medication for you, your doctor will show you or the person who will be injecting the medication how to inject it. You and the person who will be injecting the medication should also read the written instructions for use that come with the medication.
Thirty minutes before you are ready to inject tocilizumab injection, you will need to remove the medication from the refrigerator, take it out of its carton, and allow it to reach room temperature. When removing a prefilled syringe from the box, be careful not to touch the trigger fingers on the syringe. Do not try to warm the medication by heating it in a microwave, placing it in warm water, or through any other method.
Do not remove the cap from the prefilled syringe while the medication is warming. You should remove the cap no more than 5 minutes before you inject the medication. Do not replace the cap after you remove it. Do not use the syringe if you drop it on the floor.
Check the prefilled syringe to be sure that the expiration date printed on the package has not passed, Holding the syringe with the covered needle pointing down, look closely at the liquid in the syringe. The liquid should be clear or pale yellow and should not be cloudy or discolored or contain lumps or particles. Call your pharmacist if there are any problems with the package or the syringe and do not inject the medication.
You may inject tocilizumab injection on the front of the thighs or anywhere on your stomach except your navel (belly button) and the area 2 inches around it. If another person is injecting your medication, the outer area of the upper arms also may be used. Do not inject the medication into the skin that is tender, bruised, red, hard, or not intact, or that has scars, moles, or bruises. Choose a different spot each time you inject the medication, at least 1 inch away from a spot that you have used before. If the full dose is not injected, call your doctor or pharmacist.
Do not reuse tocilizumab prefilled syringes and do not recap the syringes after use. Discard any used syringes in a puncture-resistant container and ask your pharmacist how to throw away the container.
Tocilizumab injection may help control your symptoms, but it will not cure your condition. Your doctor will watch you carefully to see how well tocilizumab injection works for you. Your doctor may adjust your dose or delay your treatment if you have certain changes in your laboratory results. It is important to tell your doctor how you are feeling during your treatment.
Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about tocilizumab injection.
Do not let anyone else use your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
All information has been provided courtesy of MedLinePlus from the National Library of Medicine and from the FDA.