Tocilizumab is sold under the brand name RoActemra. It is used to block the interleukin 6 receptor or IL 6R. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis will be at a high risk of producing this rather harmful protein. Through the use of Tocilizumab you can effectively block this protein. Consequently you will be able to avoid inflammation and damage to the bone structure. The license for Tocilizumab has been limited to individuals with rheumatoid arthritis but there are clinical trials that are looking at the possibility of using it for juvenile arthritis as the case may be. The arthritis has to be active before Tocilizumab will be prescribed and it is important that the patient starts off with one of the DMARD drugs first. Some of the alternatives that might be considered in the initial phase include Rituximab, etanercept and sulfasalazine. Methotrexate is the standard and it is then complemented by other factors.
Using Tocilizumab in a safe environment
It is important that you do not take Tocilizumab if you have any of the contraindications. These include inactive rheumatoid arthritis, failure to use the initial DMARD drugs, pregnancy, breastfeeding and an infection. Likewise the doctor may decide not to prescribe Tocilizumab if the patient has had repeated infections in the past or is suffering from cancer. Liver disease is another indicator that the treatment is not suitable. Patients that have low neutrophils or white blood cells should not take Tocilizumab. In addition a low count of blood platelets is a strong indicator that this type of treatment is inappropriate. Arthritis patients with a history of diverticulitis should not be given the medication as it might make the situation worse.
If you are suffering from arthritis it is important that you get approval from your doctor or consultant rheumatologist before taking Tocilizumab. The medication is administered using an intravenous infusion once every four weeks. The treatment phases will take about one hour and must be supervised by competent members of staff in order to prevent any problems. A biological therapy alert card should be given to the patient just in case they need emergency treatment. The reduction in joint pain and inflammation should commence about two weeks after the first bout but it can start twelve weeks later. Meanwhile the reaction of the patient must be monitored just in case they develop certain complications.
Some patients have reported side effects due to Tocilizumab. These include dizziness, a headache, runny nose, sore throat, mouth ulcers, high blood pressure and conjunctivitis. The patient may also develop an itch and skin rash. The treatment has been associated with gastritis and inflammation on the site. This medication relates to the immune system and therefore care must be taken to ensure that the patient is not open to opportunistic infections. These vary from time to time according to the way that the treatment program has been handled. There are certain occasions when the treatment will have to be modified in order to secure maximum advantage for the patient. All these decisions are taken in consultation with the doctor.