Generic Name: Alemtuzumab Brand Name(s): Alemtuzumab.

Uses

What is alemtuzumab used for?

Alemtuzumab is an antibody made from animal DNA.

Alemtuzumab is used to treat chronic B-cell lymphocytic leukemia or relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis.

Alemtuzumab may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

How should I take alemtuzumab?

Alemtuzumab is injected into a vein through an IV. A healthcare provider will give you this injection, which can take up to 4 hours to complete.

You may be given an antibiotic and other medicines to help prevent certain side effects of alemtuzumab. Take these medicines for the full prescribed length of time.

To treat chronic B-cell lymphocytic leukemia, alemtuzumab is usually given for a total of 12 weeks. You may receive the medicine every day or 3 days per week, depending on any side effects that occur.

For multiple sclerosis, alemtuzumab is given for 5 days followed by 12 months off the medicine. Then alemtuzumab is given for another 3 days. Your doctor will determine how long to treat you with this medicine.

You will be watched closely for at least 2 hours after receiving alemtuzumab, to make sure you do not have a serious reaction.

Serious and sometimes fatal infections may occur during treatment with alemtuzumab. Call your doctor right away if you have signs of infection such as: fever, chills, cough, mouth sores, or trouble breathing.

Your blood and urine will need to be tested often. Your cancer treatments may be delayed based on the results of these tests.

Alemtuzumab can have long lasting effects on your body. You may need frequent medical tests for as long as 4 years after you stop using this medicine.

How do I store alemtuzumab?

Alemtuzumab is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store alemtuzumab in the bathroom or the freezer. There may be different brands of alemtuzumab that may have different storage needs. It is important to always check the product package for instructions on storage, or ask your pharmacist. For safety, you should keep all medicines away from children and pets.

You should not flush alemtuzumab down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. It is important to properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist for more details about how to safely discard your product.

Precautions & warnings

What should I know before using alemtuzumab?

Before using this drug, tell your doctor if:

  • You are pregnant or breastfeeding. This is because, while you are expecting or feeding a baby, you should only take medicines on the recommendation of a doctor.
  • You are taking any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • You have allergy with any of active or inactive ingredients of alemtuzumab or other medications.
  • You have any other illnesses, disorders, or medical conditions.

Alemtuzumab can cause your immune system to attack cells and organs in your body. This can lead to life-threatening medical problems such as severe bleeding or kidney damage. Call your doctor right away if you have unusual bruising or bleeding, blood in your urine, swelling in your legs or feet, or if you cough up blood.

Some side effects may occur during the injection or shortly afterward. You will be watched closely for at least 2 hours after receiving alemtuzumab, to make sure you do not have a serious reaction.

Serious and sometimes fatal infections may occur during treatment with alemtuzumab. Call your doctor right away if you have signs of infection such as: fever, chills, cough, mouth sores, or trouble breathing.

Alemtuzumab can have long lasting effects on your body, including an increased risk of developing other types of cancer (such as melanoma, thyroid cancer, or blood cancers). You may need frequent medical tests for as long as 4 years after you stop using this medicine.

You should not receive alemtuzumab if you are allergic to it. You should not be treated with Lemtrada if you have HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).

To make sure alemtuzumab is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:

  • An active or recent infection
  • Kidney disease
  • A thyroid disorder
  • A bleeding or blood clotting disorder such as hemophilia
  • You have received a vaccine in the past 6 weeks.

Using alemtuzumab may increase your risk of developing other types of cancer, such as melanoma, thyroid cancer, or blood cancers. Ask your doctor about your specific risk.

Is it safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding?

There are no adequate studies in women for determining risk when using alemtuzumab during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking alemtuzumab. Alemtuzumab is pregnancy risk category C, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

FDA pregnancy risk category reference below:

  • A=No risk
  • B=No risk in some studies
  • C=There may be some risk
  • D=Positive evidence of risk
  • X=Contraindicated
  • N=Unknown

Side effects

What side effects can occur from alemtuzumab?

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Some side effects may occur during the injection or shortly afterward. Tell your caregiver right away if you feel weak, dizzy, itchy, nauseated, chilled or feverish, or if you have chest tightness or trouble breathing.

Alemtuzumab can cause your immune system to attack cells and organs in your body. This can lead to life-threatening medical problems such as severe bleeding or kidney damage. Call your doctor right away if you have:

  • Unusual bruising or bleeding
  • Blood in your urine
  • Swelling in your legs or feet
  • If you cough up blood

Also call your doctor at once if you have:

  • Pain or swelling in your neck or throat, hoarse voice, trouble swallowing
  • A mole that has changed in size or color
  • Lung problems–cough, wheezing, chest pain, feeling short of breath
  • Signs of infection–fever, swollen glands, weakness, pale or yellowed skin, dark colored urine, pain or burning when you urinate
  • Symptoms of herpes virus–cold sores around your mouth, skin sores or blisters, itching, tingling, burning pain in your thigh or lower back
  • Thyroid problems–extreme tired feeling, nervousness, fast heartbeats, heavy sweating, weight gain or loss, swelling of your eyes, feeling more sensitive to cold temperatures, constipation

Common side effects may include:

  • Nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea
  • Infections
  • Headache, joint pain, back pain
  • Itching, rash, tingling
  • Dizziness, tiredness, sleep problems (insomnia)
  • Vaginal itching or discharge
  • Stuffy nose, throat pain or itching, white patches in your mouth or throat
  • Flushing (warmth, redness, or tingly feeling)

Not everyone experiences these side effects. There may be some side effects not listed above. If you have any concerns about a side-effect, please consult your doctor or pharmacist.

Interactions

What drugs may interact with alemtuzumab?

Alemtuzumab may interact with other drugs that you are currently taking, which can change how your drug works or increase your risk for serious side effects. To avoid any potential drug interactions, you should keep a list of all the drugs you are using (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. For your safety, do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any drugs without your doctor’s approval.

Products that may interact with this drug are drugs that weaken the immune system such as cancer medicine, or medicines to prevent organ transplant rejection.

Does food or alcohol interact with alemtuzumab?

Alemtuzumab may interact with food or alcohol by altering the way the drug works or increase the risk for serious side effects. Please discuss with your doctor or pharmacist any potential food or alcohol interactions before using this drug.

What health conditions may interact with alemtuzumab?

Alemtuzumab may interact with your health condition. This interaction may worsen your health condition or alter the way the drug works. It is important to always let your doctor and pharmacist know all the health conditions you currently have.

Dosage

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. You should ALWAYS consult with your doctor or pharmacist before using alemtuzumab.

What is the dose of alemtuzumab for an adult?

Usual Adult Dose for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia:

3 mg IV daily over 2 hours until infusion reactions are Grade 2 or less; then 10 mg IV daily over 2 hours until infusion reactions are Grade 2 or less; then 30 mg IV daily over 2 hours 3 times per week on alternate days (e.g., Monday, Wednesday, Friday).

Duration of therapy: 12 weeks

Usual Adult Dose for Multiple Sclerosis:

12 mg IV daily for 2 treatment courses:

  • First Treatment Course: 12 mg IV daily on 5 consecutive days
  • Second Treatment Course: 12 mg IV daily on 3 consecutive days administered 12 months after the first treatment course

What is the dose of alemtuzumab for a child?

The dosage has not been established in pediatric patients. It may be unsafe for your child. It is always important to fully understand the safety of the drug before using. Please consult with your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

How is alemtuzumab available?

Alemtuzumab is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

  • Injection

What should I do in case of an emergency or overdose?

In case of an emergency or an overdose, call your local emergency services or go to your nearest emergency room.

What should I do if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of alemtuzumab, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your regular dose as scheduled. Do not take a double dose.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources

Review Date: September 19, 2017 | Last Modified: September 19, 2017

Want to live your best life?
Get the Hello Doktor Daily newsletter for health tips, wellness updates and more.