Actemra Drug Side Effects

Actemra side effectsWhile rheumatoid arthritis drug Actemra is often considered safer than its competitors, it’s linked to more than 1,100 unexpected deaths. Unfortunately, undisclosed Actemra side effects may be directly responsible for those deaths. A recent analysis by STAT News investigated more than 500,000 side effect reports for rheumatoid arthritis drugs. They found the side effect risks were potentially “higher for Actemra patients than for patients taking some competing drugs.” Unlike competing products however, Actemra does not include any warnings of these side effects on their label.

Commonly Reported Actemra Side Effects

The most common Actemra side effects listed on the drug’s label include:

  • Upper respiratory tract infections (common cold, sinus infections)
  • Headache
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Injection site reactions

In addition, if you are a hepatitis B carrier, taking Actemra may cause your HBV infection to reactivate again. Serious allergic reactions may also occur. However, Actemra side effects not listed on the drug’s label – especially after numerous patient deaths – are the biggest concern.

Potentially Fatal Actemra Side Effects

  • Heart failure. Actemra is linked to heart attacks, palpitations, and other cardiac events. Since Actemra can elevate cholesterol and trigyceride blood lipid levels, you may experience serious heart problems.
  • Severe infections. Because Actemra affects your immune system, you become more susceptible to infections and have difficulty fighting them off. Actemra patients report suffering from tuberculosis (TB), bacterial, fungal, and viral infections.
  • Pancreatitis. Recently, 132 patients developed pancreatitis while taking Actemra, and 26 died from it. (Acute pancreatitis can kill up to 50 percent of patients.) Actemra increases blood cholesterol levels, which then in turn triggers pancreatitis.
  • Gastrointestinal perforation injuries. Recent studies show that Actemra more than doubles patient risk for lower GI tract perforation injuries. The only perforation warning sign is persistent abdominal pain.
  • Nervous system problems. Several patients developed multiple sclerosis shortly after taking Actemra.
  • Venous thromboembolic events. According to the FDA Adverse Events Reporting System (FAERS), 82 Actemra patients suffered either pulmonary embolism or deep vein thrombosis. Nine patients ultimately died from these particular Actemra side effects.

Doctors Compare Unreported Actemra Side Effects to Vioxx Recall

STAT interviewed multiple doctors worried about Actemra side effects Roche didn’t list on the drug’s warning label. One doctor’s patient experienced a fatal brain bleed two days after her Actemra infusion treatment. Another described a patient’s heart attack shortly after starting Actemra injections.

One Actemra meeting’s transcript includes comments from Dr. David Felson, a Boston University rheumatologist. “I can foresee the possibility that in five years there’s another hearing like the one on Vioxx, where the cardiologists… say to us, what were you guys thinking when you approved this drug?”

However, other doctors say that some deaths may not have a direct causal link to Actemra. Despite the FDA receiving many different side-effect reports, they cannot always prove Actemra caused them. Dr. Eric Brodsky is associate director for the FDA’s drug labeling development team. He says that concurrent illnesses and taking multiple drugs (also known as “polypharmacy”) may skew these numbers.

temporal arteritis
cytokine release syndrome

FDA Approves Actemra for Cytokine Release Syndrome

Check eligibility for compensation.

If you or a loved one experienced GI perforation, pancreatitis, interstitial lung disease or heart damage while taking Actemra, you may be entitled to compensation from the manufacturer. Request your free case evaluation now to see if you may qualify.