What is thalidomide?

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Generic Name: Thalidomide Brand Name(s): Generics only. No brands available.

Know the basics

What is thalidomide used for?

This medication is used to treat or prevent certain skin conditions related to Hansen’s disease, once known as leprosy (erythema nodosum leprosum). Thalidomide is also used with other drugs to treat a certain type of cancer (multiple myeloma). Thalidomide belongs to a class of drugs known as immunomodulators. It works in Hansen’s disease by reducing swelling and redness (inflammation). It also reduces the formation of blood vessels that feed tumors.

OTHER USES: This section contains uses of this drug that are not listed in the approved professional labeling for the drug but that may be prescribed by your health care professional. Use this drug for a condition that is listed in this section only if it has been so prescribed by your health care professional.

This drug may also be used to treat certain conditions caused by cancer and HIV infection.

How should I take thalidomide?

Read the Medication Guide and, if available, the Patient Information Leaflet provided by your pharmacist before you start using thalidomide and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Take this medication by mouth, usually once daily at bedtime at least 1 hour after the evening meal or as directed by your doctor. Swallow this medication whole with water.

Dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment. Do not increase your dose or take this medication more often than prescribed. Your condition will not improve any faster, and the risk of serious side effects may be increased.

Keep the capsules in their blister pack until ready to use. Do not open or break the capsules, or handle them any more than needed. If any of the powder from the capsule gets on your skin, wash the area with soap and water.

Since this drug can be absorbed through the skin and lungs and may harm an unborn baby, women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant should not handle this medication or breathe the dust from broken capsules. All people should wash their hands thoroughly after handling this drug.

This medication passes into body fluids (e.g., urine). Avoid contact with body fluids from people taking this drug. Therefore, wear protective clothing (e.g., gloves) when handling these body fluids (e.g., during cleanup). If contact occurs, wash skin with soap and water.

Use this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, take it at the same time each day. If you are taking this medication for Hansen’s disease, your skin condition may become worse when the drug is suddenly stopped. Your dose may need to be gradually decreased.

Tell your doctor if your condition does not improve or if it worsens after 2 weeks.

How do I store thalidomide?

Thalidomide is best stored at room temperature away from direct light and moisture. To prevent drug damage, you should not store thalidomide in the bathroom or the freezer. There may be different brands of thalidomide 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 thalidomide 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.

Know the precautions & warnings

What should I know before using thalidomide?

In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For this medicine, the following should be considered:

Allergies

Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to this medicine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.

Pediatric

Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of thalidomide in children younger than 12 years of age. Safety and efficacy have not been established.

Geriatric

Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of thalidomide in the elderly.

Is it safe to take thalidomide during pregnancy or breast-feeding?

There isn’t enough information about the safety of using this medication during pregnancy and breast-feeding. Please always consult with your doctor to weigh the potential benefits and risks before taking this medication.

Know the side effects

What are the side effects of thalidomide?

Stop using this medicine and get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:

  • chest pain, sudden shortness of breath, coughing up blood;
  • pain or swelling in your arm, thigh, or calf;
  • fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms, easy bruising or bleeding;
  • slow heartbeats, shallow breathing, feeling like you might pass out;
  • a red, blistering, peeling skin rash;
  • a red, raised skin rash (especially if you also have fever, fast heart rate, and dizziness or fainting);
  • numbness, burning, pain, or tingly feeling; or
  • seizure (convulsions).

Less serious side effects may include:

  • feeling drowsy or sleepy;
  • anxiety, confusion, tremors or shaking;
  • bone pain, muscle weakness;
  • sleep problems (insomnia); or
  • nausea, constipation, loss of appetite.

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.

Know the interactions

What drugs may interact with thalidomide?

Thalidomide 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.

Using this medicine with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.

  • Dexamethasone
  • Docetaxel

Does food or alcohol interact with thalidomide?

Thalidomide 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 thalidomide?

Thalidomide 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, especially:

  • Blood clots (eg, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism) or
  • Bradycardia (slow heartbeat) or
  • Heart attack, history of or
  • HIV infection or
  • Neutropenia (low white blood cells) or
  • Peripheral neuropathy (nerve problem) or
  • Seizures, history of or
  • Stroke, history of—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse.

Understand the dosage

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

What is the dose of thalidomide for an adult?

Usual Adult Dose for Leprosy — Erythema Nodosum Leprosum:

Cutaneous erythema nodosum leprosum (ENL):

Initial dose: 100 to 300 mg orally once a day with water, preferably at bedtime and at least 1 hour after the evening meal; patients less than 50 kg should be started at the low end of the dose range

Severe cutaneous ENL reaction or patients previously requiring higher doses to control the reaction:

Initial dose: Up to 400 mg/day orally once a day at bedtime or in divided doses with water, at least 1 hour after meals

Usual Adult Dose for Multiple Myeloma:

200 mg orally once a day with water, preferably at bedtime and at least 1 hour after the evening meal

What is the dose of thalidomide for a child?

12 years or older:

Cutaneous erythema nodosum leprosum (ENL):

Initial dose: 100 to 300 mg orally once a day with water, preferably at bedtime and at least 1 hour after the evening meal; patients less than 50 kg should be started at the low end of the dose range

Severe cutaneous ENL reaction or patients previously requiring higher doses to control the reaction:

Initial dose: Up to 400 mg/day orally once a day at bedtime or in divided doses with water, at least 1 hour after meals

How is thalidomide available?

Thalidomide is available in the following dosage forms and strengths:

Capsule 50 mg; 100 mg; 150 mg; 200 mg

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 thalidomide , 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.

msBahasa Malaysia

Review Date: May 30, 2016 | Last Modified: January 4, 2017

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