Actemra & Pancreatitis

Studies have linked the rheumatoid arthritis drug Actemra (tocilizumab injection) to serious side effects including pancreatitis, stroke, heart attack and more than 1,100 deaths.

About Actemra

In early 2010, the FDA first approved the Roche manufactured drug, Actemra to treat moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis (RA). The drug works by reducing inflammation.

Over 1.5 million Americans have rheumatoid arthritis, which is a debilitating autoimmune disease that causes inflammation in the joints of the hands, feet, knees, elbows, and ankles. Inflammation occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks healthy joint tissue. This results in swelling and pain around the joints. If untreated, damage to cartilage and bone can occur. In some cases, irreversible joint deformity happens. This is why treatment is vital.

Roche cashed in on it, too. Actemra is Roche’s fifth highest-grossing drug, according to health and medicine publication STAT, netting $1.7 billion in global sales last year alone.

Actemra & Pancreatitis

Located behind the stomach and next to the small intestine, the pancreas is a large gland that aids in food digestion and releases insulin. Pancreatitis occurs when the pancreas becomes inflamed. Damage to the pancreas begins to occur when digestive enzymes are activated and begin attacking the pancreas. This can come in two forms: acute and chronic.

With acute pancreatitis, there is a sudden inflammation that doesn’t last. It ranges from mild discomfort to sometimes severe. Most recover completely with the right course of treatment.When chronic pancreatitis occurs, the inflammation can be long-lasting. This can lead to permanent scarring and damage. Calcium stones and cysts may develop in your pancreas. These can block the tube that carries digestive enzymes and juices to the stomach. The blockage may lower the levels of pancreatic enzymes and hormones. This makes it harder for your body to digest food and also regulate your blood sugar. This can lead to serious health problems like malnutrition and diabetes.

Those taking Actemra reported developing pancreatitis while on the medication. About a third of patients, (29.17%), who developed pancreatitis when taking Actemra developed it between one and six months of use. Approximately 16.67% developed the condition in six to 12 months, 20.83% developed it between one and two years, and 16.67% developed the condition in less than one month.

Lack of Warning

Many of the RA drugs on the market bring the same risk of developing pancreatitis. The difference is the other drugs warn about it, and Acterma does not. The FDA should monitor the safety of prescription medications. However, it doesn’t verify the adverse event reports it receives. If they did, they would have known to immediately consider warnings for pancreatitis.

Not having a warning makes one medication seem safer than the other which has it.

Actemra & Pancreatitis Symptoms

The symptoms of pancreatitis are:

  • Upper abdominal pain that radiates into the back
  • Swollen and tender abdomen
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fever
  • Increased heart rate

 How We Can Help

When you experience side effects from a dangerous drug, it can have devastating effects on your entire life. You may be entitled to compensation for their injuries and damages. The types of losses that can be recovered include:

  • Past and future medical expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Loss of an ability to work; and
  • Pain and suffering

If a person dies from complications from a drug, family members may be able to recover damages for the wrongful death of their loved one, including:

  • Funeral expenses
  • Medical expenses prior to death
  • Loss of economic support; and
  • Loss of companionship

Therefore, if the conduct of a drug company in manufacturing and selling drug is found to be highly reckless, punitive damages may be awarded to punish the company and deter similar conduct in the future. If you developed pancreatitis after taking Actemra, please speak to us to learn more about your rights.

Case evaluations are free of cost and without obligation. Call us today at (877) 513-9517 or contact us online to speak with an attorney about your options. We may be able to get you the help you need.

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