Alemtuzumab

Adult Medication

Brand Names: US

Campath; Lemtrada

Brand Names: Canada

Lemtrada; MabCampath

Warning

For all patients taking this drug:

  • This drug may cause very bad and sometimes life-threatening infusion reactions. You will be closely watched during the infusion and for some time after. Very bad infusion reactions may also happen up to 24 hours or longer after you get this drug. Tell your doctor right away if you have chest pain; passing out; fast or slow heartbeat; a heartbeat that does not feel normal; fever; hives; itching; rash; very bad headache or dizziness; shortness of breath or trouble breathing; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, throat, or tongue; tightness in the chest or throat; hoarseness that is not normal; or wheezing.
  • Other infusion reactions include change in taste, chills, dizziness, flushing, upset stomach, pain, feeling tired, or not able to sleep. Talk with the doctor.
  • This drug may cause very bad and sometimes deadly autoimmune problems like some blood problems. Side effects may happen while you get this drug and for 4 years after you stop treatment. You will need to have your blood work and urine checked while getting this drug and after getting it as you have been told by your doctor. Talk with your doctor.
  • Very bad and sometimes deadly infections have happened in patients who take this drug. If you have any infection, are taking antibiotics now or in the recent past, or have had many infections, talk with your doctor.

For patients taking this drug to treat leukemia:

  • A very bad brain problem called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML) may happen with this drug. It may cause disability or death. Tell your doctor right away if you have signs like confusion, memory problems, low mood (depression), change in the way you act, change in strength on 1 side is greater than the other, trouble speaking or thinking, change in balance, or change in eyesight.

For patients taking this drug to treat MS (multiple sclerosis):

  • This drug may raise the chance of cancer like thyroid cancer, skin cancer, and lymphoma. Have your skin checked and other lab tests done as you have been told by your doctor. Talk with your doctor.
  • You can only get this drug through the Lemtrada REMS program. Talk with your doctor.

What is this drug used for?

  • It is used to treat a type of leukemia.
  • It is used to treat MS (multiple sclerosis).
  • It may be given to you for other reasons. Talk with the doctor.

What do I need to tell my doctor BEFORE I take this drug?

  • If you have an allergy to alemtuzumab or any other part of this drug.
  • If you are allergic to any drugs like this one, any other drugs, foods, or other substances. Tell your doctor about the allergy and what signs you had, like rash; hives; itching; shortness of breath; wheezing; cough; swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat; or any other signs.
  • If you have an infection.
  • If you have a weak immune system or a disease that may cause a weak immune system like HIV.
  • If you have ever had any of these health problems: Any type of cancer or PML.
This is not a list of all drugs or health problems that interact with this drug.
Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all of your drugs (prescription or OTC, natural products, vitamins) and health problems. You must check to make sure that it is safe for you to take this drug with all of your drugs and health problems. Do not start, stop, or change the dose of any drug without checking with your doctor.

What are some things I need to know or do while I take this drug?

For all patients taking this drug:

  • Tell dentists, surgeons, and other doctors that you use this drug.
  • You may have more chance of getting an infection. Wash hands often. Stay away from people with infections, colds, or flu.
  • You may bleed more easily. Be careful and avoid injury. Use a soft toothbrush and an electric razor.
  • Talk with your doctor before getting any vaccines. Use with this drug may either raise the chance of an infection or make the vaccine not work as well.
  • This drug may cause harm to the unborn baby if you take it while you are pregnant.
  • Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan on getting pregnant. You will need to talk about the benefits and risks of using this drug while you are pregnant.
  • Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding. You will need to talk about any risks to your baby.

For patients taking this drug to treat leukemia:

  • Use birth control that you can trust during care and for 6 months after care ends.
  • If you are a man and have sex with a female who could get pregnant, protect her from pregnancy during care and for 6 months after care ends. Use birth control that you can trust.

For patients taking this drug to treat MS (multiple sclerosis):

  • Make sure you are up to date with all your vaccines at least 6 weeks before treatment with this drug. Talk with your doctor.
  • Certain kidney problems have happened with this drug. These problems can lead to kidney failure, dialysis, or transplant, and can be life-threatening. Talk with your doctor.
  • People taking this drug may have a higher chance of getting an infection caused by the listeria bacteria. Avoid foods that may be a source of listeria or make sure that the food you eat that may contain listeria is heated well. Foods that may be a source of listeria include deli meat; unpasteurized milk and cheese products; or undercooked meat, seafood, or chicken. Talk with your doctor.
  • All females taking this drug must have an HPV screening each year. Talk with your doctor.
  • You will need a TB (tuberculosis) test before starting this drug.
  • Hepatitis B or C testing may be done. A hepatitis B or C infection may get worse during care. Talk with the doctor.
  • Do not give to a child younger than 17 years of age.
  • If you are a female, use birth control that you can trust to prevent pregnancy while taking this drug and for 4 months after your last dose.

What are some side effects that I need to call my doctor about right away?

WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:

For all patients taking this drug:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Signs of infection like fever, chills, very bad sore throat, ear or sinus pain, cough, more sputum or change in color of sputum, pain with passing urine, mouth sores, or wound that will not heal.
  • Signs of bleeding like throwing up blood or throw up that looks like coffee grounds; coughing up blood; blood in the urine; black, red, or tarry stools; bleeding from the gums; vaginal bleeding that is not normal; bruises without a reason or that get bigger; or any bleeding that is very bad or that you cannot stop.
  • Chest pain or pressure or a fast heartbeat.
  • A burning, numbness, or tingling feeling that is not normal.
  • Dark urine or yellow skin or eyes.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Feeling very tired or weak.
  • Redness or white patches in mouth or throat.
  • Swollen gland.

For patients taking this drug to treat leukemia:

  • Very bad dizziness or passing out.
  • Very bad headache.
  • Slow heartbeat.
  • A heartbeat that does not feel normal.
  • Sweating that is not normal.
  • Change in strength on 1 side is greater than the other, trouble speaking or thinking, change in balance, or blurred eyesight.
  • Patients with cancer who take this drug may be at greater risk of getting a bad and sometimes deadly health problem called tumor lysis syndrome (TLS). Call your doctor right away if you have a fast heartbeat or a heartbeat that does not feel normal; any passing out; trouble passing urine; muscle weakness or cramps; upset stomach, throwing up, loose stools or not able to eat; or feel sluggish.

For patients taking this drug to treat MS (multiple sclerosis):

  • Signs of kidney problems like unable to pass urine, change in the amount of urine passed, blood in the urine, or a big weight gain.
  • Signs of lung or breathing problems like shortness of breath or other trouble breathing, cough, or fever.
  • Signs of thyroid problems like a change in weight without trying, feeling nervous and excitable, feeling restless, feeling very weak, hair thinning, low mood (depression), neck swelling, not able to focus, not able to handle heat or cold, period (menstrual) changes, shakiness, or sweating.
  • Signs of thyroid cancer like new lump or swelling in the neck, pain in the front of the neck, cough that does not go away, change in voice that does not go away like hoarseness, or trouble swallowing or breathing.
  • Change in color or size of a mole.
  • Low mood (depression).
  • Night sweats.
  • If you are planning to harm yourself or the want to harm yourself gets worse.
  • Swelling in the arms or legs.
  • A skin lump or growth.

What are some other side effects of this drug?

All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:

For all patients taking this drug:

  • Anxiety.
  • Back pain.
  • Headache.
  • Belly pain.
  • Upset stomach or throwing up.
  • Loose stools (diarrhea).
  • Feeling tired or weak.
  • Muscle pain.
  • Not able to sleep.

For patients taking this drug to treat leukemia:

  • Not hungry.

For patients taking this drug to treat MS (multiple sclerosis):

  • Pain in arms or legs.
  • Dizziness.
  • Flushing.
  • Joint pain.
  • Muscle spasm.
  • Muscle weakness.
  • Neck pain.
  • Nose and throat irritation.
These are not all of the side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, call your doctor. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.
You may report side effects to your national health agency.

How is this drug best taken?

Use this drug as ordered by your doctor. Read all information given to you. Follow all instructions closely.

For all patients taking this drug:

  • It is given as an infusion into a vein over a period of time.
  • Other drugs may be given before this drug to help with infusion side effects.

For patients taking this drug to treat leukemia:

  • Drink lots of noncaffeine liquids every day unless told to drink less liquid by your doctor.

What do I do if I miss a dose?

  • Call the doctor to find out what to do.

How do I store and/or throw out this drug?

  • This drug will be given to you in a hospital or doctor’s office. You will not store it at home.

General drug facts

  • If your symptoms or health problems do not get better or if they become worse, call your doctor.
  • Do not share your drugs with others and do not take anyone else’s drugs.
  • Keep a list of all your drugs (prescription, natural products, vitamins, OTC) with you. Give this list to your doctor.
  • Talk with the doctor before starting any new drug, including prescription or OTC, natural products, or vitamins.
  • Keep all drugs out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to throw out unused drugs.
  • Some drugs may have another patient information leaflet. If you have any questions about this drug, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.

Consumer Information Use and Disclaimer

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only the healthcare provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for a specific patient. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from the healthcare provider. You must talk with the healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

Last Reviewed Date

2014-12-08

Copyright

© 2015 Wolters Kluwer Clinical Drug Information, Inc. and its affiliates and/or licensors. All rights reserved.
If you have any questions or concerns, talk with a member of your healthcare team. You can reach them Monday through Friday from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm at ____________________. After 5:00 pm, during the weekend, and on holidays, please call____________________. If there’s no number listed, or you’re not sure, call 212-639-2000.
Alemtuzumab
©2015 Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center - Generated on July 28, 2015