Cancer Home > Precautions and Warnings With Alemtuzumab
As a safety precaution, you will need to take anti-infective medicines to help prevent infections during treatment with alemtuzumab. Other warnings with alemtuzumab include being aware of possible drug interactions and signs of infusion reactions and other potentially life-threatening problems. People who already have a weakened immune system, certain allergies, or are pregnant may need to avoid this drug.
What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider?You should talk with your healthcare provider prior to using alemtuzumab (Campath®) if you have:
- A weakened immune system due to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), or any other cause
- An infection, including serious infections (such as cytomegalovirus infection), chickenpox, or shingles (herpes zoster)
- Plans to receive a vaccination
- Any allergies, including to foods, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
- Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant
Make sure to tell your healthcare provider about any other medications you are taking, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
Specific Alemtuzumab Precautions and WarningsSome warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to using this medication include the following:
- Alemtuzumab may decrease the amount of blood cells the bone marrow produces, which could cause abnormally low blood cell counts. Contact your healthcare provider right away if you experience:
- Abnormal bleeding or bruising
- Small reddish or purple blood spots on your skin
- Excessive tiredness or weakness
- Pale skin.
- Some people experience serious, life-threatening reactions (known as infusion reactions) during or shortly after receiving alemtuzumab. In rare cases, these reactions have caused death. Infusion reactions may be more likely to occur in the first week of treatment, but can happen at any time.
To help reduce the risk of an infusion reaction, your alemtuzumab dosage will be slowly increased to allow your body time to get used to the medication. You will receive your dose in a healthcare setting, and be observed closely for any problems. Also, your healthcare provider will give you medicines shortly before your dose to help decrease your risk for an infusion reaction. Tell your healthcare provider immediately if you develop any of the following symptoms during or any time after your infusion:
- Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting
- Skin rash or hives
- Swelling of the mouth, tongue, face, lips, or throat
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
- Tightness in the chest or throat
- Chest pain.
- Because alemtuzumab weakens your immune system, it may increase your risk for infections, including potentially serious infections such as pneumonia and herpes virus infections. In rare cases, infections have led to death in people receiving alemtuzumab. You will need to take anti-infectives to help prevent certain infections during alemtuzumab treatment and for two months after treatment ends. Contact your healthcare provider right away if you develop signs of an infection, such as:
- Body aches
- Sore throat.
- You will need frequent blood tests during alemtuzumab treatment to make sure you are responding to the medicine and to monitor for side effects. Be sure to keep all your healthcare provider and laboratory appointments while receiving this medication.
- If you need a blood transfusion during treatment, you will need to receive irradiated blood products (blood products used to prevent a serious reaction that could occur in people who have a weakened immune system).
- Talk to your healthcare provider before getting any type of vaccination or immunization during alemtuzumab treatment. Vaccines may be less effective in such cases. You could also become infected with the bacteria or viruses used to make "live" vaccines (see Drug Interactions With Alemtuzumab).
- Alemtuzumab can react with a few other medications (see Drug Interactions With Alemtuzumab).
- This product is considered a pregnancy Category C medication, which means it may not be safe for use during pregnancy. Talk to your healthcare provider about the risks and benefits of using this medication when pregnant (see Campath and Pregnancy).
- It is unknown whether this drug passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to beginning treatment (see Campath and Breastfeeding).