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What Is Cladribine Used For?

How Does This Medication Work?

Cladribine belongs to a general group or medicines known as purine analogs. It is similar in structure to purine, a naturally occurring substance that helps make up the structure of DNA. Cladribine passes into cells, where it is incorporated into the DNA of the cells.
 
The drug works by preventing the DNA from replicating, which is necessary for cancer cells to divide. It also interferes with the ability of DNA to repair itself when it is damaged. These actions can slow down the growth of cancer cells, or even cause the cancer cells to die.
 

Can Children Use It?

This medication is not approved for use in children (usually defined as individuals younger than 18 years old), as it has not been adequately studied in this age group. Talk to your child's healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of using cladribine in children.
 
It should be noted that cladribine must be diluted prior to use, and the recommended liquid used to dilute cladribine contains the preservative benzyl alcohol. Benzyl alcohol has been reported to cause a serious condition known as "gasping syndrome" when given to premature infants. Gasping syndrome is associated with a gasping breath, low blood pressure, and a slow heart rate. It can lead to heart attack and death.
 

Is It Safe for Older Adults to Use Cladribine?

Cladribine has not been adequately studied in older adults, so it is unknown whether older adults will respond differently to the medication than younger age groups. Although cladribine can be used in older adults, some of them may be more sensitive to the side effects of the medication and may, therefore, need to be monitored more closely.  
 

What About Off-Label Uses?

On occasion, your healthcare provider may recommend this medication for treating something other than hairy cell leukemia. This is called an "off-label" use. Cladribine may sometimes be prescribed off-label to treat the following conditions:
 
 
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Cladribine Drug Information

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