Actemra (Tocilizumab) is an FDA-approved prescription medication used for the treatment of adults with moderate to severe rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic inflammatory conditions. It's a biological product that quickly spoils if exposed to high temperatures or too much light.
If you've been prescribed Actemra, you've probably already been told that you need to take some precautions to properly store your medicine and prevent it from going bad.
Some patients are administered Actemra by infusion. In that case, your healthcare providers will take care of storing the solution at the right temperatures for you. But if you’re using prefilled syringes of Actemra or ACTPen autoinjectors for subcutaneous injections at home, your medication needs to be kept in the refrigerator and protected from light.
So, how exactly should you store Actemra at home? What happens if it’s left out of the fridge? Can you travel with your Actemra injections and how to keep your syringes and pens refrigerated while on the road?
Related article: 7 Great tips for traveling with Psoriatic and Rheumatoid Arthritis
What are the ideal storage conditions for Actemra?
Actemra may be prescribed for the symptomatic treatment of various chronic health conditions including moderate to severe Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA), Systemic Sclerosis with Early Interstitial Lung Disease (SSc-ILD), Giant Cell Arteritis (GCA), Polyarticular Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis (PJIA), and Systemic Juvenal Idiopathic Arthritis (SJIA). Research is currently conducted on whether or not Actemra could also help with Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) and Crohn’s Disease (CD).
Actemra must be stored in the fridge
Actemra is a biologic drug, also referred to as a biological or biopharmaceutical drug. Biologics are human-made drugs obtained from living organisms or that contain components of living organisms (mostly from humans, animals, or plants).
Biologic medications usually target the immune system to help treat or relieve chronic conditions caused by a dysfunction of the immune system. They're widely used in conditions like arthritis and can considerably help decrease inflammation and other symptoms. However, like any drugs that interfere with the immune system, biologics like Actemra can also have serious side effects.
One particularity of biological drugs like Actemra, Humira, or Enbrel for example, is that because they come from living sources, they’re highly sensitive to heat, freeze, and light.
According to Genentech, the manufacturer of Actemra, you must “keep your unused syringes in the original carton and keep in the refrigerator at 36 ̊F to 46 ̊F (2 ̊C to 8 ̊C). Do not freeze”. Before injecting, you must allow the autoinjector or syringe to sit at room temperature for about 45 minutes.
Now, that’s easy at home but what happens if you’re traveling with Actemra? How long can your prefilled syringes and autoinjector pens be left out of the fridge without deteriorating?
Related article: What drugs are refrigerated? List of medicines that require refrigeration
Related article: What temperature drugs that require refrigeration must be kept at?
Travels & Excursions with Actemra
According to the manufacturer, “Once removed from the refrigerator, Actemra must be administered within 8 hours and should not be kept above 30°C”. Actemra is probably one of the biological drugs with the highest temperature sensitivity, and 8 hours is a very short time.
When administered subcutaneously, Actemra is generally taken at the dose of 162 mg once every week or once every two weeks. What if your next injection is supposed to happen during a trip away from home? How are you supposed to keep Actemra refrigerated on a 12-hours flight to Hong Kong? How can you keep it cool in sunny Mexico?
It’s not just a matter of temperatures. It’s a matter of health. If not stored at the right temperatures, your prefilled syringes of Actemra or your ACTPen autoinjectors can quickly spoil and get contaminated. Actemra that has gone bad is not safe for use anymore. Never proceed to a subcutaneous injection of Actemra that you suspect may have gone bad. Immediately throw away your pen or syringe and get a new one from the fridge. Not easy when you’re traveling far away from home…
Fortunately, great tools are available to make sure anyone whose life depends on refrigerated medications can keep traveling safely!
Actemra Travel Cooler from 4AllFamily
The best solution to keep Actemra refrigerated when traveling is to use a medical-grade travel cooler for refrigerated medications. There are not many on the market. 4AllFamily specializes in travel-size fridges for temperature-sensitive drugs. Our products are designed to keep your meds safe and cool in all conditions.
Keep Actemra refrigerated for up to 72 hours without electricity!
4AllFamily's product line is large enough so you can find the best travel cooler for your Actemra pens and prefilled syringes. Our highest performing cooler can even keep your medication at fridge temperatures between 36 ̊ and 46 ̊F (2̊C - 8 ̊C) for up to 72 hours without electricity or forever when plugged into a power source.
Depending on your needs, lifestyle, and travels, you can refrigerate Actemra using biogel icepacks or USB power. The biogel icepack cooling solution is ideal for people who are traveling in conditions where they won't have access to electricity (camping trips, hikes, or others).
On the contrary, if you have electricity, the USB-power refrigerating solution is made for you. You can plug your medical cooler into any kind of power source including of course household power but also a car cigarette lighter, a portable power bank, or even a travel-size solar panel!
Choose the medical cooler that best suit your lifestyle here!
TSA-approved medical coolers for air travel
Flying with medicines can be stressful and even more so when your drugs need to stay refrigerated. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has special rules for people traveling with medications and expressly states that “medications in liquid form are allowed on carry-on bags in excess of 3.4 ounces in reasonable quantities for the flight".
Besides, all the medical travel coolers from 4AllFamily are TSA-approved so you can legally board the plane with your Actemra pens or syringes refrigerated!
We hope this article has helped you out. Should you have any further doubts about traveling with Actemra, please do not hesitate to ask and comment in the section below. You may also find valuable information in the following related articles:
Related article: How to travel with refrigerated medications?
Related article: How to travel with injectable medication and syringes?