1 Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology, Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Københavns Universitet2 unknown3 Drug Research Academy B, Drug Research Academy, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Københavns Universitet4 Drug Research Academy B, Drug Research Academy, Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Københavns Universitet
We report three cases of severe disseminated Staphylococcus aureus infection in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) treated with tocilizumab. Tocilizumab is a new drug, unknown to most internists, and injections given weeks before admission may not be considered by the patient as part of their 'current medical treatment', and the physician may not be aware that the patient is severely immunosuppressed. Severe infections in RA patients treated with tocilizumab may present with mild symptoms despite severe and disseminated infection and, as these patients are severely immunodeficient-intensive diagnostic work-up and early treatment should be performed. Systematic postmarketing studies are needed to clarify if there is a true increased risk of disseminated S aureus infections. We suggest caution when prescribing tocilizumab to patients with prosthetic joints and/or prior invasive S aureus infections and that patients are taught to inform health staff about their medication history and their increased risk of infection.