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Actemra & Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome

Studies have linked the rheumatoid arthritis drug Actemra (tocilizumab injection) to serious side effects including Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, stroke, heart attack and more than 1,100 deaths. This comes just a mere 6 years after the FDA approved the medication.


 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 & Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome

Actemra & Acute Respiratory Distress SyndromeAcute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a rapidly progressive disease. Fluid fills the lungs making them stiff and difficult to inflate. This makes it hard to breathe and can cause respiratory failure. In order to improve the amount of oxygen and reduce the work of breathing, most ARDS patients will be placed on a ventilator to support them while the lungs heal. If the inflammation and fluid in the lung(s) persist, some patients will go on to develop scarring in the lungs

To improve breathing, doctors will place ARDS patients on a ventilator. This time will help the lungs heal. However, many develop scarring in the lungs.  ARDS is very serious. Even with the best medical care, between 30 and 50% with ARDS die of it.

Recently,  evidence suggests drugs like Acterma may make the condition worse. Patients reported serious cases of ARDS while receiving treatment with anti-tumor necrosis factor (TNF) drugs or tocilizumab. However, evidence to this effect is mixed. The risk factors of ARDS in patients with RA have not been fully studied. Yet, Roche still keeps the drug on the market without warnings.


 Lack of Warning

Many of the RA drugs on the market bring the same risks of ARDS. The difference is the other drugs warn about ARDS 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 ARDS.

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


 Actemra & Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome Symptoms

 The symptoms of Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) are

  • Severe shortness of breath
  • Labored and unusually rapid breathing
  • Low blood pressure
  • Confusion and extreme tiredness


How We Can Help

Sad Old Woman

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

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 Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS) 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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