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What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before I receive tocilizumab (Actemra)?
Tell your doctor if you have ever had tuberculosis, if anyone in your household has tuberculosis, or if you have recently traveled to an area where tuberculosis is common.
To make sure you can safely use tocilizumab, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:
FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether tocilizumab will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medication..
If you are pregnant, your name may be listed on a pregnancy registry. This is to track the outcome of the pregnancy and to evaluate any effects of tocilizumab on the baby.
It is not known whether tocilizumab passes into breast milk. You should not breast-feed while you are using tocilizumab.
Treatment with tocilizumab may increase your risk of developing certain types of cancer. Talk to your doctor about your specific risk.
How is tocilizumab given (Actemra)?
Before you start treatment with tocilizumab, your doctor may perform tests to make sure you do not have tuberculosis or other infections.
Tocilizumab is injected into a vein through an IV. You will receive this injection in a clinic or hospital setting. Tocilizumab must be given slowly, and the IV infusion can take 1 hour to complete.
This medication is usually given every 4 weeks.
Tocilizumab can lower blood cells that help your body fight infections. This can make it easier for you to bleed from an injury or get sick from being around others who are ill. Your blood need to be tested often. Visit your doctor regularly.
Contact your doctor right away if you have signs of infection such as: fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms, cough, sweating, feeling short of breath, diarrhea, weight loss, sores on your skin, painful urination, or feeling very tired.
Some infections are more likely to occur in certain areas of the world. Tell your doctor where you live and where you have recently traveled or plan to travel to during treatment.
If you need to have surgery, tell the surgeon ahead of time that you are using tocilizumab.
You may be treated with a combination of drugs. Use all medications as directed by your doctor. Read the medication guide or patient instructions provided with each medication. Do not change your doses or medication schedule without your doctor's advice.
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
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