Some tocilizumab (Actemra) products are currently in limited supply. People with rheumatoid arthritis, giant cell arteritis and children with juvenile arthritis who are taking tocilizumab (Actemra) may be affected.
If you are taking tocilizumab, contact your rheumatologist as soon as possible about your treatment.
Shortages are expected to last between six weeks and six months depending on the form of the product. Supply of the pre-filled syringes and pre-filled pens (ACTPen Autoinjector), which are the most common forms, is likely to return to normal by mid-October 2021.
Steps are being taken to manage supply to reduce the impact on people taking tocilizumab. You may find you need to change between the pre-filled syringe and pre-filled pen for a short time, depending on stock availability. If you are prescribed either the Actemra pre-filled syringe or the Actemra pre-filled pen (ACTPen autoinjector), at your next appointment, ask your specialist to show you how to use both products in case you need to swap temporarily.
Pharmacists will be allowed to provide you a different product that contains the same medicine you were prescribed if the prescribed product is unavailable. Both medicines are of the same strength and are administered by subcutaneous injection, however the device to administer the medicine is different.
Ask your pharmacist for information to support you in administering these medicines. Your pharmacist may provide you with both the Consumer Medicines Information (CMI) leaflet and information from the sponsor of these medicines. However, you should still seek advice on how to administer the medicine from your specialist, rheumatology nurse or your General Practitioner.
For more information about these shortages, see the TGA website: www.tga.gov.au and select Safety Information > Alerts > All Alerts > T > Tocilizumab (Actemra) Serious Scarcity Substitution Instrument (6 August 2021).
Talk to your prescribing doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions about this substitution.
For arthritis information and access to local support services, call the Arthritis Infoline on 1800 011 041.
Therapeutic Goods Administration. 2021. Shortages of tocilizumab (Actemra) medicines. [online] Available at: <https://www.tga.gov.au/alert/shortages-tocilizumab-actemra-medicines>