The prescription drug Actemra is used to treat active rheumatoid arthritis, systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis, and polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis. This prescription medicine helps treat symptoms of arthritis by preventing a specific inflammatory protein from binding to the receptor.
What Is Actemra Used For?Actemra® (tocilizumab) is a prescription medication licensed to treat the following conditions:
- Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)
- Systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (SJIA)
- Polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (PJIA).
Actemra is approved for the treatment of moderate-to-severe active rheumatoid arthritis in adults. Specifically, it is approved only for people who have not responded well to at least one disease-modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD).
Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune disorder. This means that, for some reason, the immune system mistakes a person's own cells as invaders and attacks them, causing damage. As with many other autoimmune diseases, scientists still do not know the causes of rheumatoid arthritis.
There are many rheumatoid arthritis symptoms, such as chronic pain and tender, warm, and swollen joints. Rheumatoid arthritis treatment usually includes medications. There are four different types of rheumatoid arthritis medication, including:
- Analgesics (pain relievers), including nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
- Disease-modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs)
- Biological response modifiers (sometimes known as biological DMARDs).
Actemra is a biological response modifier, which means it targets (and "modifies") specific parts of the immune system. Biological response modifiers are commonly used to treat rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, psoriasis, and some types of cancer. As mentioned previously, Actemra is approved for people who have unsuccessfully tried one or more TNF blockers (which are a different subset of the biological response modifiers).
Actemra can be used in combination with other rheumatoid medications, with the exception of biological response modifiers. This combination could theoretically increase the risk of serious infections (this risk is still theoretical, as Actemra has not been studied in combination with other biological response modifiers).