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The prescription medication Ontak may help treat certain types of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. This drug is approved for use when this form of cancer has not improved or has come back after using other treatments. Side effects may include vomiting, fever, and fatigue. Ontak is given as an intravenous injection five days in a row, once every three weeks.

What Is Ontak?

Ontak® (denileukin diftitox) is a prescription medication approved to treat certain types of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma, a cancer of the immune system that affects the skin. It is reserved for people whose condition has not improved or has returned after other types of treatment.
(Click Ontak Uses for more information on this topic, including possible off-label uses.)

Who Makes This Medication?

Ontak is made by Eisai, Inc.

How Does Ontak Work?

Ontak is made by genetically combining protein from the diphtheria toxin with interleukin-2 (IL-2), a naturally occurring protein of the immune system. Interleukin-2 binds to lymphocytes (white blood cells) that have IL-2 receptors on their surface, including cutaneous T-cell lymphoma cancer cells. After binding to the cancer cells, the diphtheria toxin portion of Ontak causes the cancer cells to die.

When and How to Receive It

Some general considerations to keep in mind during treatment with Ontak include the following:
  • Ontak comes as a liquid that is slowly injected into a vein (known as an intravenous, or IV, infusion).
  • It will take 30 to 60 minutes to administer the medication. You will be carefully observed during this time to make sure you are tolerating the drug well.
  • Doses are usually given five days in a row, once every three weeks.
  • The injection will be given by a healthcare provider in a healthcare setting, such as a hospital or clinic.
  • Your healthcare provider will give you other medicine before administering Ontak to help prevent certain side effects that can occur from the infusion.
  • The medication should be inspected before use and should not be given if it contains particles or is discolored.
  • For Ontak to work properly, it must be used as prescribed. It is important to keep all of your appointments to receive your dose.
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Ontak Medication Information

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