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What can it do?

Welcome to the beta Arthritis Virtual Assistant. At the moment it can give you general information about your condition and medication, and provide you with useful exercises to help manage your arthritis.

Why do we need your help?

The Arthritis Virtual Assistant has been built to learn and improve with every use. That way, whenever you use it, you’re indirectly helping another person get the answers that they need for their arthritis.

What can you ask?

You'll get the best response if your question relates to a single type of arthritis, and is expressed as clearly and simply as possible. For example, "What are the best exercises for osteoarthritis?" or "What are the side effects of methotrexate?"


Are you sure you want to close your conversation?

Your conversation will not be visible the next time you visit the Arthritis Virtual Assistant. If you want to keep a copy of the advice you've been given, you can print it using the button at the top of the chat window.

How would you rate your experience so far?


Arthritis Virtual Assistant

The Arthritis Virtual Assistant is being developed into a brand new type of tool which will help you to get the answers you need for your type of arthritis.

This automated chat service is designed to provide general information about your condition and ways you can manage it. It’s been developed from over 80 years of our research work and also learns from the experiences of its users. It’s a ‘beta’ version which means it’s still learning from you, and others. It uses artificial intelligence to decide which are the best responses to give you and it will improve each time it’s used. The better the information we can provide then the more people we can help to manage their condition too.

The advice in this service isn’t a substitute for professional medical advice so we’d always recommend speaking to your doctor about your treatment. When you use the Arthritis Virtual Assistant, you’ll be asked for your first name and the type of arthritis you have, there’s no need to tell us anything more personal than that.

By using the Arthritis Virtual Assistant you confirm that you understand and accept the terms of use and consent to how we will use the information you provide.

Helpline 0800 5200 520 More information

Call us for free information, help and advice on your type of arthritis.

All calls are recorded for training and quality purposes.
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> > > > What is tocilizumab and why is it prescribed?

What is tocilizumab and why is it prescribed?

Tocilizumab (trade name: RoActemra) is a type of drug called a biological therapy. In some conditions too much of a protein called IL-6 is produced in the body, leading to tiredness, anaemia, inflammation and damage to bones, cartilage and other tissues. Tocilizumab blocks the action of IL-6, reducing these effects.

Tocilizumab isn't a painkiller, but can modify the disease over a longer period. It may be 2–12 weeks before you notice an improvement.

Tocilizumab can be prescribed by a rheumatologist for rheumatoid arthritis or juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA).

It may be the first biological therapy you receive, or you may have tried others first, such as an anti-TNF drug or rituximab. It's usually prescribed in combination with methotrexate.

Are there any reasons I won't be prescribed tocilizumab?

Tocilizumab won't be started if:

Doctors sometimes use a score known as DAS28 to work out how active your arthritis is. This counts how many of 28 specific joints are tender and swollen, and looks at inflammation levels in a blood test. You'll also be asked to score how well you feel on a scale of 0 to 10. 

Your doctor may decide not to prescribe you tocilizumab if you're pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you have (or have had):

  • a condition such as diabetes that makes you more prone to infection
  • liver disease or abnormal liver function tests
  • low levels of neutrophils (white blood cells) or platelets (which help the blood to clot)
  • a history of intestinal ulcers or diverticulitis
  • repeated or serious infections
  • cancer.

Before you start treatment you'll have a chest x-ray and blood tests. Your doctor will check if you’ve ever been exposed to tuberculosis (TB). You may need a course of treatment for latent (asymptomatic) TB before starting tocilizumab. You'll also be checked for previous hepatitis infection, as tocilizumab may increase the risk of hepatitis being reactivated.

You'll need further cholesterol checks and blood tests every 4–8 weeks while you're on tocilizumab to monitor its effects.


0800 5200 520

Our new helpline: Call us for free information, help and advice on your type of arthritis. Open Mon–Fri 9am–8pm.

All calls are recorded for training and quality purposes

Virtual Assistant

Our new Arthritis Virtual Assistant uses artificial intelligence to answer your arthritis related questions 24/7.

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Arthritis Research UK fund research into the cause, treatment and cure of arthritis. You can support Arthritis Research UK by volunteering, donating or visiting our shops.