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Alimta IV

Important Note

Warnings
Uses
Side Effects
Precautions
Interactions
Overdose
Alimta IV Uses

Pemetrexed is used to treat certain types of cancer (e.g., lung cancer, mesothelioma). It is a chemotherapy drug that is used alone or in combination with other medications to slow or stop cancer cell growth.

How to use Alimta IV

This medication comes with a Patient Information Leaflet available from your pharmacist. Read it carefully before you start using pemetrexed. If you have any questions regarding the information, consult your doctor or pharmacist.

This medication is given by injection into a vein by a healthcare professional, usually over 10 minutes, once every 3 weeks. The dosage is based on your medical condition, body size, and response to therapy.

To lower your chance of side effects, it is very important that you take folic acid vitamins and receive vitamin B12 shots before and during treatment with pemetrexed. Folic acid vitamins are available over-the-counter without a prescription, and folic acid can be found in many multivitamin products. Make sure your vitamin contains between 400 to 1000 micrograms (0.4 to 1 milligram) of folic acid. Take folic acid daily for at least 5 out of 7 days before your first dose of pemetrexed, during treatment, and for 3 weeks after your last treatment. Consult your doctor or pharmacist if you need help choosing a folic acid vitamin. Your doctor will give you a vitamin B12 shot into the muscle, usually 1 week before your first dose of pemetrexed and then once every 9 weeks during your treatment. Do not substitute oral vitamin B12 for the vitamin B12 shots. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details.

To reduce your chance of having a skin reaction while using pemetrexed, your doctor will prescribe a corticosteroid medicine (e.g., dexamethasone) to take for a short period around the time of each treatment. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details.

If this medication touches your skin, wash the skin immediately and completely with soap and water.

Alimta IV Side Effects

Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, constipation, diarrhea, mouth sores, headache, body aches/pains, dizziness, and tiredness may occur. Nausea and vomiting can be severe. In some cases, drug therapy may be needed to prevent or relieve nausea and vomiting. Not eating before your treatment may help relieve vomiting. Changes in diet such as eating several small meals or limiting activity may help lessen some of these effects. If any of these effects persist or worsen, notify your doctor or pharmacist promptly.

Temporary hair loss may occur. Normal hair growth should return after treatment has ended.

Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.

Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: fast/pounding heartbeat, change in the amount of urine, dark urine, yellowing eyes/skin, severe stomach/abdominal pain, pain/redness/swelling of arms or legs, sore throat, painful/difficult swallowing, mental/mood changes, depression, numbness or tingling of the hands/feet, easy bruising/bleeding.

Get medical help right away if any of these rare but very serious side effects occur: chest pain, new or worsening shortness of breath.

This medication can lower the body's ability to fight an infection. Notify your doctor promptly if you develop any signs of an infection such as fever, chills or persistent sore throat.

A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is unlikely, but get medical help right away if it occurs. Symptoms of a serious allergic reaction may include: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.

Pemetrexed can commonly cause a rash that is usually not serious and that can be prevented by taking corticosteroid medication (see How to Use section). However, if you do develop a rash, you may not be able to tell it apart from a rare rash that could be a sign of a severe reaction. Therefore, get medical help right away if you develop a rash.

This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.

In the US -

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

In Canada - Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.

Alimta IV Precautions

Before using pemetrexed, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.

This medication should not be used if you have certain medical conditions. Before using this medicine, consult your doctor or pharmacist if you have: severe kidney disease.

Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: decreased bone marrow function/blood cell disorders (e.g., anemia, leukopenia, thrombocytopenia), kidney problems, liver problems.

Do not have immunizations/vaccinations without the consent of your doctor, and avoid contact with people who have recently received oral polio vaccine.

Use caution with sharp objects like safety razors or nail cutters, and avoid activities such as contact sports to lower the chance of getting cut, bruised or injured.

Wash your hands well to prevent the spread of infections.

This drug may make you dizzy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do any activity that requires alertness until you are sure you can perform such activities safely. Limit alcoholic beverages.

This medication is not recommended for use during pregnancy. It may cause harm to an unborn baby. Consult your doctor for more details and to discuss reliable forms of birth control. It is recommended that men and women use two effective forms of birth control (e.g., condoms, birth control pills) while using this medication and for some period afterwards.

It is not known whether this drug passes into breast milk. Because of the potential risk to the infant, breast-feeding while using this drug is not recommended. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.

Alimta IV Interactions

Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.

Some products that may interact with this drug include: probenecid, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen).

Low-dose aspirin, as prescribed by your doctor for specific medical reasons such as heart attack or stroke prevention (usually these dosages are 81-325 milligrams per day), should be continued. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details.

Alimta IV Overdose

If overdose is suspected, contact a poison control center or emergency room immediately. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center.

NOTES:

Laboratory and/or medical tests (e.g., complete blood counts, kidney and liver function tests) should be performed to monitor your progress or check for side effects. Consult your doctor for more details.

MISSED DOSE:

For the best benefits, it is important to receive each scheduled dose of this medication as directed. If you miss a dose, contact your doctor to establish a new dosing schedule.

STORAGE:

Not applicable. This medication is given in a clinic and will not be stored at home.

MEDICAL ALERT: Your condition can cause complications in a medical emergency. For information about enrolling in MedicAlert, call 1-888-633-4298 (US) or 1-800-668-1507 (Canada).

Information last revised March 2013. Copyright(c) 2013 First Databank, Inc.

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You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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