Glossary

Frequently asked questions about ACTEMRA

Learn the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQs) about treating rheumatoid arthritis (RA) with ACTEMRA. Remember, if you have other questions, be sure to ask your healthcare provider.

ACTEMRA is a prescription medicine that targets the interleukin-6 (IL-6) signaling pathway. 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
  • Adults with giant cell arteritis (GCA)
  • Patients with active polyarticular juvenile idiopathic arthritis (PJIA) or active systemic juvenile idiopathic arthritis (SJIA) 2 years of age and older

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 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 test you for TB before starting ACTEMRA.

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; feeling very tired; muscle aches; blood in phlegm; diarrhea or stomach pain; cough; 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.

ACTEMRA was the first RA treatment specifically designed to block the action of interleukin-6 (IL-6). IL-6 is a protein in the body that is thought to play a part in RA. 

Yes. ACTEMRA can be taken with or without methotrexate for moderate to severe RA. This means that if you are unable to take methotrexate, your healthcare provider can still prescribe ACTEMRA by itself. 

For many people, ACTEMRA has been proven to work to improve their RA signs and symptoms. ACTEMRA has been shown effective in many different clinical trials, including AMBITION, where 70% of the people taking ACTEMRA experienced RA symptom improvement (called an ACR20 response), as opposed to 53% of people taking methotrexate alone. For more information about how ACTEMRA may help reduce your RA symptoms, visit ACTEMRA results.

You should talk to your healthcare provider about whether or not ACTEMRA may be right for you if you have taken a DMARD like methotrexate before.

Into a vein (IV, or intravenous infusion) for RA, PJIA, or SJIA:

  • If your healthcare provider prescribes ACTEMRA as an IV infusion, you will receive ACTEMRA from a healthcare provider through a needle placed in a vein in your arm. The infusion will take about 1 hour to give you the full dose of medicine
  • For RA or PJIA you will receive a dose of ACTEMRA about every 4 weeks
  • For SJIA you will receive a dose of ACTEMRA about every 2 weeks
  • If you miss a scheduled dose of ACTEMRA, ask your healthcare provider when to schedule your next infusion
  • While taking ACTEMRA, you may continue to use other medicines that help treat your RA, PJIA, or SJIA such as methotrexate, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and prescription steroids, as instructed by your healthcare provider
  • Keep all of your follow-up appointments and get your blood tests as ordered by your healthcare provider

Under the skin (SC, or subcutaneous injection) for RA and GCA:

  • You may also receive ACTEMRA as an injection under your skin (subcutaneous). It is available as a single-use prefilled syringe given either once a week or every two weeks. If your healthcare provider decides that you or a caregiver can give your injections of ACTEMRA at home, you or your caregiver should receive training on the right way to prepare and inject ACTEMRA. Do not try to inject ACTEMRA until you have been shown the right way to give the injections by your healthcare provider
  • The ACTEMRA syringe is prefilled, so you don’t have to worry about mixing your dose. Your healthcare provider will prescribe your dose and any dose changes, and tell you how to use it
  • Please see the Instructions for Use at the end of the Medication Guide for instructions about the right way to prepare and give your ACTEMRA injections at home
  • ACTEMRA is not approved for subcutaneous use in people with PJIA or SJIA

Learn more about taking ACTEMRA here.

In some RA patients from the RA clinical trials, ACTEMRA has been shown to work in as little as 2 weeks, and in others longer. Learn more about ACTEMRA here. Individual results may vary.

To help you start the conversation about ACTEMRA, take a look at this helpful guide.

The ACTEMRA & You™ patient support program is designed to help you throughout your ACTEMRA treatment. Learn more about what the ACTEMRA & You program has to offer here.

Yes, we have patient financial assistance that may be able to help you get the medicine you need if you are eligible. To get answers to your financial and insurance questions, you can call 1-855-RA-COPAY (1-855-722-6729) to talk with a Specialist.

Important Side Effect Information

ACTEMRA can cause serious side effects, including serious infections. ACTEMRA changes the way your immune system works, which 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 test you for TB before starting ACTEMRA.

ACTEMRA can cause other serious side effects. These include:

  • Tears of the stomach or intestines
  • Changes in blood test results, including low neutrophil (white blood cells) and platelet (platelets help the blood to clot) counts, and increases in certain liver function test levels and blood cholesterol levels
  • An increased risk of certain cancers by changing the way a patient’s immune system works
  • Hepatitis B infection
  • Serious allergic reactions, including death. These may happen with ACTEMRA infusions or injections, even if they did not occur with an earlier infusion or injection. If a patient has had hives, a rash, or experienced flushing after injecting, the patient should tell their doctor or nurse before their next injection
  • Nervous system problems

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

Most common side effects in patients treated with ACTEMRA:

  • Upper respiratory tract infections (like common cold and sinus infections)
  • Headache
  • Increased blood pressure (also called hypertension)
  • Injection site reactions

ACTEMRA & pregnancy:

Patients must tell their doctor if they are planning to become pregnant, are pregnant, plan to breast-feed, or are breast-feeding. The patient and their doctor should decide if the patient will take ACTEMRA or breast-feed. Patients should not do both. If a patient is pregnant and taking ACTEMRA, they must join the pregnancy registry. To learn more, patients should call 1-877-311-8972 or talk to their doctor to register.

Patients must tell their doctor right away if they are experiencing any side effects. Report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or www.FDA.gov/medwatch. Call Genentech at 1-888-835-2555.

Talking to your doctor

Make the most of your office visit with this helpful guide.

Download now

Call a nurse

Call 1-800-228-3672 Monday-Friday, 9 AM to 9 PM ET to speak to one of our specialists.

Financial assistance

You may qualify for help paying for ACTEMRA.

Learn more

SAFETY FIRST

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.

ACTEMRA is:

  • 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

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 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
    • Cough
    • 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.

Stomach tears

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
  • 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
  • Vomiting
  • Chills
  • Dark urine
  • Skin or eyes look yellow
  • Clay-colored bowel movements
  • Stomach discomfort
  • Skin rash
  • Little or no appetite
  • Fevers
  • 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)

Headache

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.

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