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Precautions and Warnings With Panitumumab

If you have a history of electrolyte abnormalities or lung disease, talk to your healthcare provider about whether you can safely use panitumumab. This chemotherapy drug can cause potentially dangerous complications for some people, including those with certain allergies or people taking certain medications. Other warnings and safety precautions for panitumumab apply to women who are pregnant or breastfeeding.

What Should I Tell My Healthcare Provider Before Receiving Panitumumab?

Talk with your healthcare provider prior to receiving panitumumab (Vectibix®) if you have:
  • Ever been told you have electrolyte abnormalities, such as low calcium or magnesium blood levels
  • Frequent sun exposure
  • Lung disease
  • Any allergies, including to foods, dyes, or preservatives.
Also, let your healthcare provider know if you are:
  • Breastfeeding
  • Pregnant or thinking of becoming pregnant.
You should also tell your healthcare provider about all other medications you are taking, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Specific Panitumumab Precautions and Warnings

Some warnings and precautions to be aware of prior to receiving this medication include the following:
  • Most people who receive panitumumab will experience a skin reaction during treatment. Skin reactions can include an acne-like or other type of rash or itchy, red, dry, cracking, or peeling skin. The reactions usually appear on the face, neck, or trunk, but can occur anywhere on the body, including around the eyes. Severe skin reactions can become infected, which could cause death.

In clinical trials, most reactions happened within the first two weeks of starting treatment and resolved within three months after the last panitumumab dose. Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you develop any skin reaction during treatment with this drug.

  • Sun exposure can increase the risk of developing panitumumab skin reactions. You should limit your time in the sun during treatment and for two months after your last dose. Be sure to wear protective clothing, such as a hat, and sunscreen when outside.
  • This medicine is only approved for use in people who have cancer that expresses a certain protein known as epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR). Your healthcare provider will test you for EGFR before treatment.
  • There have been rare reports of serious lung disease occurring in people receiving panitumumab. Let your healthcare provider know if you develop any breathing problems, persistent cough, or wheezing during treatment. He or she may recommend you stop receiving panitumumab treatment.
  • Panitumumab can cause an infusion reaction, which is a potentially life-threatening, allergic-type reaction that may occur during or shortly after receiving a dose. Your healthcare provider may choose to give you other medicines before your panitumumab dose to help prevent an infusion reaction. If you have an infusion reaction, your healthcare provider may slow down or stop your dose. Let your healthcare provider know immediately if you experience symptoms of an infusion reaction, which may include:
    • A skin rash or hives
    • Difficulty breathing
    • Shortness of breath
    • Fever
    • Chills.
  • You may develop low blood magnesium or calcium levels during treatment. Your healthcare provider will periodically monitor your magnesium and calcium levels, using a simple blood test, during treatment and for at least eight weeks after treatment ends. If your calcium or magnesium levels become too low, you may need oral or intravenous replacement to bring the levels back to normal.
  • This medication has been reported to cause potentially serious eye problems, including inflammation of the cornea (the front part of the eye). These eye problems can lead to serious complications that could cause loss of vision. Let your healthcare provider know if you have any signs of eye problems, such as:
    • Eye pain or redness
    • Excessive tearing
    • Blurred vision.
  • It is unknown if panitumumab passes through breast milk. Therefore, if you are breastfeeding or plan to start, discuss this with your healthcare provider prior to receiving the drug (see Vectibix and Breastfeeding).
  • Panitumumab is a pregnancy Category C medication. This means it may not be safe for use during pregnancy, although the full risks are currently unknown (see Vectibix and Pregnancy).
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