STAT Investigation on Actemra Risks
Investigators with STAT analyzed over a half million adverse event reports on a variety of rheumatoid arthritis drugs — including over 13,500 reports involving Actemra (tocilizumab) — and found over 1,100 reports of Actrema patients who suffered from death. Hundreds of those people died of heart failure, stroke, heart failure or other conditions that are not on the label, like pancreatitis, which has a 50% risk of death.
Actemra competes with other arthritis drugs, such as Humira, Remicade, and Enbrel. These other drugs carry warnings about the risk of heart failure, heart attack, and stroke — Actemra does not. Investigators found “clear evidence that the risks of heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and other conditions were as high or higher for Actemra patients than for patients taking some competing drugs.”
The lack of similar warnings on Actemra may suggest it has a lower risk, but in a head-to-head study of Actemra and Enbrel, the rate of stroke and heart failure was actually 1.5-times higher in Actemra patients.