What is Actemra?

Actemra (tocilizumab) is a monoclonal antibody drug, approved to treat autoimmune disorders including Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Polyarticular Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (PJIA), and Systemic Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (SJIA) and was recently approved for the treatment of Giant Cell Arteritis (GCA).

In autoimmune disorders like RA, the immune system begins to attack and destroy the body's own joint or other tissue, resulting in painful inflammation and disability. Actemra which works to suppress the immune system by blocking interleukin-6, an immune messenger.

Actemra is given by IV infusion for PJIA and SJIA but may be used at home as a prefilled syringe for subcutaneous (SC) injection for patients with RA or GCA. Most patients receive doses once every 4 weeks but dosing may be adjusted based on laboratory tests. Since it was first approved in 2010, Actemra has been prescribed over 760,000 times and produces annual estimated revenue of $1.7 billion for manufacturer Genentech and its parent company, Roche.

What is the Problem with Actemra?

Actemra first hit the market in 2010 and was considered a "breakthrough" drug. Unlike competing drugs, Actemra was touted as not being associated with heart attacks, pancreatitis, stroke, or life-threatening lung complications.

Yet, hundreds of patients taking Actemra have died from such problems, and many more have suffered harm. STAT analyzed more than 500,000 side-effect reports on rheumatoid arthritis drugs, and found clear evidence that the risks of heart attacks, strokes, heart failure, and other conditions were as high or higher for Actemra patients than for patients taking some competing drugs. Most of those medications warn about these risks on their labels; Actemra does not.

Where Should I Go for Help?

If you or someone you love have been hurt by Actemra, call our Houston office at 713-352-7883 or 877-643-3099 toll free, or fill out our confidential online form to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with a lawyer.