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Actemra Linked to Heart Attacks and Deaths
Santa Clara, CA: A new drug used to treat rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Actemra (tocilizumab), which is made by Roche/Genentech, has been linked to hundreds of patient deaths resulting from heart attacks, strokes, and heart failure.
An investigation conducted by Stat News has shown that Actemra carried no warning labels concerning potential side effects, specifically cardiovascular and pulmonary complications. The investigation, which involved analysing more than 500,000 side effect reports on rheumatoid arthritis drugs, "found clear evidence" that the risk of the side effects such as heart attack or stroke, "were as high or higher for Actemra patients than for patients taking some competing drugs." The difference, according to Stat News, is that unlike other drug used to treat RA, Actemra does not carry a warning label for those side effects.
The Food and Drug Administration has received reports on 1,128 people who died after taking Actemra, and has reviewed its safety several times since it was approved.
Actemra is a humanized interleukin-6 (IL-6) receptor antagonist approved for treatment of adults with moderately to severely active rheumatoid arthritis. It was approved in 2010 and has been prescribed to more than 760,000 patients.
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