Cancer Home > Ontak and Breastfeeding

No research has been done on the potential risks of using Ontak (denileukin diftitox) while breastfeeding. Although the manufacturer warns women to not breastfeed during treatment, some sources believe that waiting several hours after a dose would limit potential harm to a child. Because every woman's situation is different, discuss the benefits and risks with your doctor before using this drug while nursing.

Can Breastfeeding Women Receive Ontak?

Ontak® (denileukin diftitox) is a prescription medication used to treat cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. At this time, it is unknown if the drug passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, you should talk to your healthcare provider prior to beginning treatment.

More Information About Ontak and Breastfeeding

There is very little information available about Ontak and breastfeeding, as the medication has not been studied in women who are nursing. The properties of the drug make it unlikely that it would pass through breast milk. However, until more information is known about using Ontak while breastfeeding, the potential that the drug would be found in breast milk cannot yet be ruled out.
The manufacturer recommends that Ontak not be used in breastfeeding women. Other references suggest that waiting at least four hours after a dose is given should limit the amount of drug passed to a nursing child.
Although the lack of information and the unclear recommendations are certainly frustrating, it is important to understand that studies of medications are rarely done in breastfeeding women. This is because such studies would usually expose an infant, who will not directly benefit from the medication, to possible risks associated with the drug.

Talking With Your Healthcare Provider

You should discuss breastfeeding and Ontak use with your healthcare provider. Each woman's situation is different, and you and your healthcare provider understand your situation best. After considering what you want and expect, as well as your current health situation, the two of you can make a shared decision that is right for you.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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