Actemra is a drug that was approved by the FDA in January of 2010 for rheumatoid arthritis therapy, or RA Therapy. This drug offers hope for people that suffer from moderate to severe forms of rheumatoid arthritis. Actemra is not a cure for arthritis, but rather a treatment for rheumatoid arthritis joint pain and the increasing debilitation of the joints that are affected.
Actemra is a new type of drug that works by blocking interleukin-6. Interluekin-6 is a protein that is over produced in rheumatoid arthritis patients. Interleukin-6 is responsible for an excessive inflammatory response in the joints as well as other body parts in those who have rheumatoid arthritis. As the interleukin-6 is blocked, the rheumatoid arthritis joints become less painful and there is less destruction of the joint tissue.
Blocking interleukin-6 is a new biological weapon in the arsenal of rheumatoid arthritis therapy. Some of the other biological drugs available block a different protein called TNF-alpha, or the tumor necrosis factor alpha. Other biological drugs work to block interleukin-1 and moderate the activity of Beta and T-cells.
Actemra may also help relieve other symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, such as fatigue. However, this new RA therapy is not to be used without caution. In clinical trials, there were serious side effects reported including death.
Because of these serious side effects, this drug is being used on patients that have not responded well to conventional forms of rheumatoid arthritis therapy regimens. Patients should expect their rheumatologist to keep a close eye on their cholesterol levels as some patients have had a significant increase in their LDL levels.
High blood pressure and increased liver enzymes can also be a side effect of Actemra. So while this drug is very promising, patients who take this drug will need to be monitored closely like they are with most other drugs used in rheumatoid arthritis therapy. It is always a fine balancing act between medications and their negative side effects with the pain and destruction of the rheumatoid arthritis joint.
Actemra is given by intravenous infusion once a month. It may be given in combination with other RA therapies depending upon patient response to the drug.