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How Will You Take Actemra for Giant Cell Arteritis (GCA)?

Treat GCA Your Way

ACTEMRA offers a range of treatment method options for your GCA symptoms. These options give you the ability to take your medicine in a way that may be convenient for you. Whichever treatment method option you prefer, your ACTEMRA is the same. ACTEMRA is available to treat GCA as:

  • Subcutaneous (SC) injection: This medicine may be injected under your skin. It is given at home by you or a caregiver. ACTEMRA SC is available in a prefilled syringe or the ACTEMRA ACTPen® autoinjector
    • The ACTEMRA prefilled syringe is a single-dose needle that is manually injected
    • The ACTPen autoinjector is a prefilled, single-dose, pen-like autoinjector that keeps the needle tip shielded before the injection, allowing you to inject by holding down a button
    • After you've reviewed the FDA-approved Instructions for Use, you can also watch a step-by-step video to learn how to use the prefilled syringe or ACTPen autoinjector
  • Intravenous (IV) infusion: This medicine is a liquid solution placed into your vein with a needle. It is given at your healthcare provider’s office or an infusion center
SC injection

What to know about ACTEMRA SC injections

Before you decide if the ACTERMRA SC injection is the option for you, learn more about it:

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You'll be trained by your healthcare provider or nurse. You or your caregiver should inject for the first time during a training session. That way, you can get comfortable with the injection process.

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Medicine is injected under the skin into fatty tissue (for example, in the belly or upper thigh) but not deeper, into the muscle

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Prefilled syringe:
Total injection time is about 35 minutes

  • The syringe needs 30 minutes to warm
  • It takes about 5 minutes to prepare, inject, and dispose of syringe
ACTPen icon

ACTPen autoinjector:
Total injection time is about 50 minutes

  • The ACTPen autoinjector needs 45 minutes to warm up
  • It takes about 5 minutes to prepare, inject, and dispose of the ACTPen autoinjector
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Your healthcare provider will tell you if you should give yourself an ACTEMRA SC injection once a week or once every 2 weeks

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Serious allergic reactions may occur. Please seek immediate medical attention if you start to experience any serious allergic reaction, including:

  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
  • Swelling of lips, tongue, or face
  • Chest pain
  • Feeling dizzy or faint
  • Moderate or severe abdominal pain or vomiting


Prefilled Syringe Not actual size.
IV infusion

What to know about ACTEMRA IV infusions

Before you decide if the ACTEMRA IV infusion is the option for you, learn more about it:

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IV infusions are given to you at your healthcare provider’s office or in an infusion center

Intravenous bag

Liquid medicine is given by needle directly into your vein

Patient Bed Icon

You’ll sit in a comfortable chair or lie down on a cot or bed

1 Hour icon

Your IV infusion will last about 1 hour

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Infusion reactions may occur. A healthcare provider or nurse will be there to monitor you

ACTEMRA and You logo

Support for living with GCA

Learn what the ACTEMRA & You patient support program has to offer.

ACTEMRA support line icon

ACTEMRA Patient Support Line

Have questions about ACTEMRA?

Call 1-800-228-3672 to talk with a team member about ACTEMRA.

  • A biologic is a type of medicine developed using processes that are similar to what happens in your body naturally. Biologics can be used to interact with certain parts of your body, like your immune system. They can also fight inflammation in certain diseases, like GCA.

  • An inflammation of the blood vessels. The cause is often unknown.

  • When a part of the body becomes swollen and painful.

  • A flare is a sudden worsening of your disease. It can happen after you haven’t experienced symptoms for a long time. It’s also known as a relapse.

  • A chemical messenger that tells the immune system to attack harmful bacteria and viruses. When your body produces too much IL-6, it causes the immune system to attack healthy cells.
  • A decrease or disappearance in signs and symptoms.

  • Under the skin.

  • A sample of cells taken from the body in order to examine them more closely. A healthcare professional will recommend a biopsy when a test suggests an area of tissue in the body isn’t normal.

  • A genetic predisposition means that a person may be more likely to develop a disease based on their genes. However, they may not see any symptoms unless something in the environment triggers the disease.

  • Steroids, including cortisone and prednisone, are a type of medicine used temporarily to reduce inflammation.

  • Biologics, a type of DMARD, are a class of arthritis treatments designed to target your immune system.

  • The immune system is a complex network of organs and cells that protects the body from foreign substances such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses.

Important Safety Information


What does ACTEMRA treat?

ACTEMRA is a prescription medicine called an interleukin-6 (IL-6) receptor antagonist.

ACTEMRA is used:

  • To treat adults with moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) after at least one other medicine called a disease modifying antirheumatic drug (DMARD) has been used and did not work well
  • To treat adults with giant cell arteritis (GCA)
  • To treat patients with active polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (PJIA) 2 years of age and older 
  • To treat patients with active systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (SJIA) 2 years of age and older
  • For slowing the rate of decline in lung function in adults with systemic sclerosis-associated interstitial lung disease (SSc-ILD) (also known as scleroderma-associated ILD).
  • To treat hospitalized adults with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) receiving systemic corticosteroids and requiring supplemental oxygen or mechanical ventilation.
  • ACTEMRA is not approved for subcutaneous use in people with COVID-19.

It is not known if ACTEMRA is safe and effective in children with PJIA or SJIA under 2 years of age or in children with conditions other than PJIA or SJIA.

ACTEMRA can cause serious side effects

Serious Infections

ACTEMRA changes the way your immune system works. This can make you more likely to get infections or make any current infection worse. Some people have serious infections while taking ACTEMRA, including tuberculosis (TB), and infections caused by bacteria, fungi, or viruses that can spread throughout the body. Some people have died from these infections. Your healthcare provider should assess you for TB before starting and during treatment with ACTEMRA (except if you have COVID-19).

Before starting ACTEMRA, tell your healthcare provider if you have:

  • an infection, think you may have an infection, are being treated for an infection, or get a lot of infections that return. Symptoms of an infection, with or without a fever, include sweating or chills; shortness of breath; warm, red or painful skin or sores on your body; feeling very tired; muscle aches; blood in phlegm; diarrhea or stomach pain; cough; weight loss; burning when you urinate or urinating more than normal
  • any of the following conditions that may give you a higher chance of getting infections: diabetes, HIV, or a weak immune system
  • tuberculosis (TB), or have been in close contact with someone with TB
  • live or have lived, or have traveled to certain parts of the United States where there is an increased chance of getting fungal infections. These parts include the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys and the Southwest
  • hepatitis B or have had hepatitis B

If you have COVID-19, your healthcare provider should monitor you for signs and symptoms of new infections during and after treatment with ACTEMRA.

Who should not take ACTEMRA?

Do not take ACTEMRA if you are allergic to tocilizumab, or any of the ingredients in ACTEMRA.

Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider if you see any signs of these serious side effects:

Tears (perforation) of the Stomach or Intestines

If you have diverticulitis (inflammation in parts of the large intestine), talk to your healthcare provider before taking ACTEMRA. Some people taking ACTEMRA may develop a hole in the wall of their stomach or intestines (also known as a perforation). This happens most often in people who also take nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), corticosteroids, or methotrexate.

Tell your healthcare provider right away if you see any of these side effects: fever, stomach-area pain that does not go away, or if you see a change in your bowel habits.

Liver problems (Hepatotoxicity)

Some people have experienced serious life-threatening liver problems, which required liver transplant or led to death. Your healthcare provider may tell you to stop taking ACTEMRA if you develop new or worsening liver problems during treatment with ACTEMRA. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • feeling tired (fatigue)
  • lack of appetite for several days or longer (anorexia)
  • yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes (jaundice)
  • abdominal swelling and pain on the right side of the stomach-area
  • light colored stools
  • weakness
  • nausea and vomiting
  • confusion
  • dark “tea-colored” urine

Changes in Blood Test Results

Your healthcare provider should do blood tests before you start receiving ACTEMRA. If you have rheumatoid arthritis (RA) or giant cell arteritis (GCA), or systemic sclerosis-interstitial lung disease (SSc-ILD) your healthcare provider should do blood tests 4 to 8 weeks after you start receiving ACTEMRA for the first 6 months and then every 3 months after that. If you have polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (PJIA) you will have blood tests done every 4 to 8 weeks during treatment. If you have systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (SJIA) you will have blood tests done every 2 to 4 weeks during treatment. These blood tests are to check for the following side effects of ACTEMRA:

  • Low neutrophil count: neutrophils are white blood cells that help the body fight infection
  • Low platelet count: platelets are blood cells that help with clotting, which stops bleeding
  • Increase in liver function test levels
  • Increase in blood cholesterol levels: your cholesterol levels should be checked 4 to 8 weeks after you start receiving ACTEMRA.

Your healthcare provider will determine how often you will have follow-up blood tests. Make sure you get all your follow-up blood tests done as ordered by your healthcare provider.

You should not receive ACTEMRA if your neutrophil and platelet counts are too low or your liver function test levels are too high. Changes in blood test results may cause your healthcare provider to stop your ACTEMRA treatment for a time or change your dose.


ACTEMRA may increase your risk of certain cancers by changing the way your immune system works.

Hepatitis B Infection

If you have or are a carrier of the hepatitis B virus (a virus that affects the liver), the virus may become active while you use ACTEMRA. Your healthcare provider may do blood tests before you start treatment with ACTEMRA and while you are using ACTEMRA. Tell your healthcare provider if you have any signs of these symptoms:

  • feel very tired
  • skin or eyes look yellow
  • little or no appetite
  • vomiting
  • clay-colored bowel movements
  • fevers
  • chills
  • stomach discomfort
  • muscle aches
  • dark urine
  • skin rash

Serious Allergic Reactions

Serious allergic reactions, including death, can happen with ACTEMRA. These reactions can happen with any infusion or injection of ACTEMRA, even if they did not occur with an earlier infusion or injection. Tell your healthcare provider before your next dose if you had hives, rash or flushing after your injection.

Contact 911 immediately, as well as your healthcare provider, if you experience any of these reactions:

  • shortness of breath or trouble breathing 
  • swelling of the lips, tongue, or face 
  • chest pain 
  • feeling dizzy or faint 
  • moderate or severe abdominal pain or vomiting

Nervous System Problems

While rare, Multiple Sclerosis has been diagnosed in people who take ACTEMRA. It is not known what effect ACTEMRA may have on some nervous system disorders.

What should I tell my healthcare provider before receiving ACTEMRA?

ACTEMRA may not be right for you. Before receiving ACTEMRA, tell your healthcare provider if you:

  • have an infection 
  • have liver problems 
  • have any stomach-area (abdominal) pain or been diagnosed with diverticulitis or ulcers in your stomach or intestines 
  • have had a reaction to tocilizumab or any of the ingredients in ACTEMRA before 
  • have or had a condition that affects your nervous system, such as multiple sclerosis 
  • have recently received or are scheduled to receive a vaccine 
  • plan to have surgery or a medical procedure 
  • have any other medical conditions 
  • plan to become pregnant or are pregnant. It is not known if ACTEMRA will harm your unborn baby. 
  • plan to breast-feed or are breast-feeding. You and your healthcare provider should decide if you will take ACTEMRA or breast-feed. You should not do both. 
  • are taking any medications, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

The most common side effects of ACTEMRA include:

  • upper respiratory tract infections (common cold, sinus infections)
  • headache
  • increased blood pressure (hypertension)
  • injection site reactions

ACTEMRA & Pregnancy

Tell your healthcare provider if you are planning to become pregnant, are pregnant, plan to breast-feed, or are breast-feeding. You and your healthcare provider should decide if you will take ACTEMRA or breast-feed. You should not do both. If you are pregnant and taking ACTEMRA, join the pregnancy registry. The purpose of this registry is to check the health of the pregnant mother and her baby. To learn more, call 1-877-311-8972 or talk to your healthcare provider to register.

Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088. You may also report side effects to Genentech at 1-888-835-2555.

Please see full Prescribing Information and the Medication Guide, including Serious Side Effects, for more Important Safety Information.