Alemtuzumab is used to treat B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukaemia or B-CLL (a type of cancer where the bone marrow produces too many white blood cells called lymphocytes).
This medicine is also used to treat relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis or RRMS (a certain type of disease affecting the brain and/or spinal cord).
Alemtuzumab injection is to be given intravenously (into the vein) as an infusion. It is delivered directly into the bloodstream via the blood vessel.
Your doctor or nurse will administer the injection for you.
Ensure that you keep all appointments with your doctor so that you do not miss any doses. Your doctor also needs to regularly monitor your response to Alemtuzumab.
If you miss an appointment or miss an injection, alert your doctor or nurse. A replacement appointment or injection should be given as soon as possible.
If you are being treated with this medicine for RRMS, alert your doctor if you have the following conditions:
- severe active infection of any type
- HIV infection
- other autoimmune diseases (condition wherein your immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys healthy body tissues)
- uncontrolled high blood pressure
- history of tears in blood vessels supplying the brain
- history of stroke
- history of heart attack or chest pain
- history of bleeding disorder
as Alemtuzumab may not be suitable for you.
Do not use this medicine with blood-thinning medicines, such as warfarin or clopidogrel.
Inform your doctor if you have the following conditions:
- contagious liver infection caused by a virus that is spread through blood and body fluids (hepatitis B) or blood to blood contact (hepatitis C)
- lung infection known as tuberculosis
- previous or existing cancer
Let your doctor know if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
This medicine may increase your risk of getting infections (e.g. fungal infection in the mouth and vagina). Maintain good hygiene as this is important in managing fungal infections.
Inform your doctor if you have been recently vaccinated. Do not receive any vaccinations without first asking your doctor.
If you are going to have a diagnostic test that utilises antibodies, inform your doctor that you are being treated with Alemtuzumab.
Why is it important to keep my appointments with the doctor?
Keep your appointments with your doctor. Your doctor needs to monitor your condition and check your response to the medication regularly.
- Routine tests (e.g. complete blood count, liver/kidney/thyroid function, urine tests) may be done before starting and while you are being treated with this medicine. These tests may be needed for at least 48 months after you have stopped the treatment. Your doctor will advise you about how often you need to have these tests.
- Regular monitoring for signs of infection, allergic or infusion-related reactions and depression may also be needed.
Alemtuzumab may cause any of the following side effects: headache, dizziness, nausea, hiccups, vomiting, indigestion, diarrhoea, back pain, muscle or joint pain, flushing, difficulty sleeping, hair loss and pain at the infusion site.
Some side effects may need immediate medical help. Alert your doctor quickly if you experience any of the following:
- signs of allergic reactions e.g. rashes, breathlessness, swelling of the face, eyes, mouth or throat
- signs of infusion-related reactions e.g. fever, chills, difficulty breathing, chest pain, fast or abnormal heartbeat, passing out
- nose bleeds, coughing up blood, new or worsening cough, wheezing, chest tightness
- red or tea-coloured urine, swelling in the legs and ankles, decreased urine output
- yellowing of the skin or eyes, abdominal pain, dark coloured urine, tiredness
- unexplained weight loss or gain, excessive sweating, eye swelling, nervousness
- loss of coordination, muscle weakness, trouble speaking, blurred vision, confusion, depression, changes in memory, behaviour or personality
- neck pain, sudden severe headache, weakness on one side of the body, facial drooping
- new lump, swelling in the neck, hoarseness or other voice changes that do not go away
This medicine will cause the level of your red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets to drop.
Red blood cells carry oxygen around your body. A fall in the level of red blood cells may make you feel tired and worn out.
White blood cells help your body to fight infections. A fall in the level of your white blood cells may put you at higher risk for infections, such as coughs, colds and flu, which may lead to more serious infections. Avoid crowded places and people who are sick. Alert your doctor if you have a fever, or a cough or flu that does not go away.
Platelets help your blood to clot when there is a cut in the skin. A fall in the level of your platelets may put you at risk of bleeding more than usual. Do not take part in activities where you may fall or get injured, such as contact sports. Alert your doctor if you get any unusual bruising (large bruises or several bruises, especially if the bruises appeared on their own) or bleeding that takes a long time to stop (for example, too much bleeding when you floss or brush your teeth).
Inform your doctor if any of these side effects do not go away or are severe, or if you experience other side effects.
Do not use Alemtuzumab with blood-thinning medicines, such as warfarin or clopidogrel.
Inform your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking or using any of these medicines:
- other medicines for cancer e.g. trastuzumab
- medicines used in organ transplant or certain immune disorders e.g. pimecrolimus, tacrolimus
This list does not include all medicines that may interact with Alemtuzumab.
Avoid live vaccinations during treatment with this medicine. Alert your doctor if you have been recently vaccinated or if you are planning to get vaccinated.
Always notify your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking any other medicines, including herbal tonics such as traditional Chinese medicines, supplements and medicines that you buy without a prescription.
Store in the refrigerator, between 2-8°C. Do not allow to freeze. If frozen, Alemtuzumab will become ineffective and should not be used.
Protect from light. Light may cause the medication to lose some of its effectiveness.
Do not use this medicine if it becomes cloudy or if it has changed in colour.
Medicines must not be used past the expiry date.