The dawn of the biologic era has been an exciting period for clinical research and patient care in rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Targeted biologic therapies have changed the outcome of this disease and made remission a realistic outcome for many patients. Tocilizumab (TCZ, Actemra(®)), is a humanized monoclonal antibody against the interleukin 6 receptor and has been approved in many countries for the treatment of moderate to severe RA. There have been a number of important clinical trials demonstrating the efficacy of TCZ in active rheumatoid arthritis. This review summarizes the data on efficacy, patient-reported outcomes, adverse events, and safety from some of these trials. Current trends in clinical practice will be discussed. It is difficult to place TCZ and many new medications in the algorithm of treatment at present. However, the next few years will hopefully reveal their role as we better define abnormal immune processes in individuals with RA.
Keywords: biologics; interleukin-6; rheumatoid arthritis; tocilizumab.