Is ACTEMRA Right for Your Child?
Could ACTEMRA work for your child’s PJIA?
When considering a treatment for your child’s polyarticular JIA (PJIA), you may have a few concerns. You should know that ACTEMRA has been tested in a clinical trial with over 100 children living with PJIA, and has been proven to work for the majority of children. See clinical trial results. For most children, ACTEMRA provided a response at 40 weeks. In fact, ACTEMRA was shown to significantly decrease disease flares. And ACTEMRA can help relieve a range of PJIA symptoms, including pain and swollen joints, and ease daily activities like eating and tying shoelaces.
Given by infusion
It’s natural to wonder how PJIA treatments are taken. Some prescription medications for PJIA are given at home by injection. But children with PJIA receive ACTEMRA by a needle directly into the vein, also called an IV infusion. The infusion usually takes place at a doctor’s office or dedicated infusion center.
By taking ACTEMRA with an IV infusion, your child will be monitored during the whole process. If he or she has any infusion reactions such as chest pain or dizziness, or you have any questions or concerns, they’ll be dealt with by a trained healthcare professional right away. Learn more about how your child will receive ACTEMRA here.
Choosing a new treatment for your child can be difficult. So remember, if you have any questions about the infusion process, be sure to talk to your child’s doctor.
Important Side Effect Information | Changes in certain laboratory test results
Your child’s healthcare provider should do blood tests before your child starts receiving ACTEMRA and every 4 to 8 weeks during treatment to check for changes in his or her blood test results (including low neutrophil count, low platelet count, and increase in certain liver function tests). Your child should not receive ACTEMRA if your child's neutrophil and platelet counts are too low or liver function test levels are too high. Your child’s healthcare provider may stop your child’s ACTEMRA treatment for a period of time if needed because of changes in these blood test results. Your child may also have changes in blood cholesterol levels. Your child's healthcare provider should do blood tests to check your child’s cholesterol levels 4 to 8 weeks after your child starts receiving ACTEMRA and then every 6 months after that.
Before reading more, please see the Important Side Effect Information for ACTEMRA
This information does not take the place of talking with your healthcare provider about your medical condition or your treatment.
Important Side Effect Information
After reading about ACTEMRA, please talk to your healthcare provider if you have any questions.
- Available by medical prescription only
- For adults with moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis (RA) who have used one or more disease modifying antirheumatic drugs (DMARDs), such as methotrexate, that did not provide enough relief
- For adults with giant cell arteritis (GCA)
- For people with active PJIA ages 2 and above
- For people with active SJIA ages 2 and above
ACTEMRA is not approved for subcutaneous use in people with PJIA or SJIA.
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
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 died from these infections.
Before taking 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. Infection signs, with or without a fever, include:
- Sweating or chills
- Shortness of breath
- Warm, red or painful skin or sores on your body
- Feel very tired
- Muscle aches
- Blood in phlegm
- Diarrhea or stomach pain
- Weight loss
- Burning when you urinate or urinating more often than normal
- Any of the following conditions that may give you a higher chance of getting infections. These include: diabetes, HIV, or a weak immune system
- Tuberculosis (TB) or have been in close contact with someone who has TB. Your healthcare provider should test you for TB before starting ACTEMRA and during treatment with ACTEMRA
- Lived in or currently live in parts of the United States known for fungal infections. These parts include the Ohio and Mississippi River Valleys and the Southwest
- Hepatitis B or have had hepatitis B
Be sure to contact your healthcare provider or nurse if you see any signs of these side effects.
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:
- Stomach-area pain that does not go away
- Change in your bowel habits
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) your healthcare provider should do blood tests 4 to 8 weeks after you start receiving ACTEMRA 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
You should not receive ACTEMRA if your neutrophil and platelet counts are too low or your liver function test levels are too high. These may cause your healthcare provider to stop your ACTEMRA treatment for a time or change your dose. Your cholesterol levels should be checked 4 to 8 weeks after the start of your treatment, and then every 6 months after that.
Increased risk of cancer
ACTEMRA may increase your risk of certain cancers by changing the way your immune system works.
Hepatitis B infection
If you have hepatitis B, a virus that affects the liver, or are a carrier of the virus, ACTEMRA can cause the virus to become active. Your healthcare provider should test you for hepatitis B before starting treatment. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you see any signs of these symptoms:
- Feeling very tired
- Dark urine
- Skin or eyes look yellow
- Clay-colored bowel movements
- Stomach discomfort
- Skin rash
- Little or no appetite
- Muscle aches
Serious allergic reactions
Serious allergic reactions, including death, can happen with ACTEMRA infusions or injections, even if they did not occur with an earlier infusion or injection. If you had hives, a rash, or experienced flushing after injecting, you should tell your healthcare provider or nurse before your next injection.
Contact 911 immediately, as well as your healthcare provider or nurse, if you experience any of these reactions:
- 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
Nervous system problems
While rare, multiple sclerosis has been diagnosed in some people taking ACTEMRA.
Most common side effects
Tell your healthcare provider if you have these or any other side effect that bothers you or does not go away:
Upper respiratory tract infections (like common cold and sinus infections)
Increased blood pressure (also called 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.
Reporting side effects
Tell your healthcare provider right away if you are experiencing any side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or www.FDA.gov/medwatch. You may also call Genentech at 1-888-835-2555.