Alemtuzumab (Injection)

Introduction

Alemtuzumab (al-em-TOOZ-oo-mab)

Treats leukemia.

Brand Name(s)

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used

How to Use This Medicine

Injectable

  • Medicines used to treat cancer are very strong and can have many side effects. Before receiving this medicine, make sure you understand all the risks and benefits. It is important for you to work closely with your doctor during your treatment.
  • You will receive this medicine while you are in a hospital or cancer treatment center. A nurse or other trained health professional will give you this medicine.
  • Your doctor will prescribe your dose and schedule. This medicine is given through a needle placed in a vein.
  • Each dose is given slowly, so the needle will remain in place for about 2 hours. This medicine is usually given every day for 3 to 7 days. Then it is given 3 times a week for up to 12 weeks.
  • Missed dose: This medicine needs to be given on a fixed schedule. If you miss a dose, call your doctor, home health caregiver, or treatment clinic for instructions.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • This medicine may interfere with vaccines. Ask your doctor before you get a flu shot or any other vaccines.

Warnings While Using This Medicine

  • This medicine may cause birth defects if either partner is using it during conception or pregnancy. Tell your doctor right away if you or your partner becomes pregnant.
  • Use 2 forms of birth control to prevent pregnancy while you are using this medicine and for at least 6 months after your treatment ends.
  • Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding, or if you have a heart disease, a bone marrow problem, or any type of infection or problem with your immune system.
  • You may need to use other medicines to help prevent some side effects of this medicine, such as allergic reaction and infection. Take all medicines exactly as your doctor has prescribed. You may need to continue these other medicines even after you finish treatment with alemtuzumab.
  • This medicine may make you bleed, bruise, or get infections more easily. Take precautions to prevent illness and injury. Avoid people who are ill, and wash your hands often. Brush and floss your teeth gently, do not play rough sports, and be careful with sharp objects.
  • Cancer medicines can cause nausea and/or vomiting in most people, sometimes even after receiving medicines to prevent it. Ask your doctor or nurse about other ways to control these side effects.
  • Your doctor will do lab tests at regular visits to check on the effects of this medicine. Keep all appointments.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Anxiety, restlessness, or trouble sleeping
  • Change in how much or how often you urinate
  • Chest pain or coughing up blood
  • Fast, pounding, or uneven heartbeat
  • Fever, chills, cough, sore throat, and body aches
  • Lightheadedness or fainting
  • Muscle pain, tenderness, or weakness
  • Numbness, tingling, or burning pain in your hands, arms, legs, or feet
  • Shortness of breath, cold sweat, and bluish skin
  • Sores or white patches on your lips, mouth, or throat
  • Swelling in your hands, ankles, or feet
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Unusual tiredness or weakness

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or stomach pain
  • Pain, itching, burning, swelling, or a lump under your skin where the needle is placed

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Version Info

  • Last reviewed on 8/4/2014

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