Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.
Autoimmune conditions: Rarely, alemtuzumab, like other similar medications, can cause other serious, possibly fatal autoimmune conditions. Your doctor will order blood tests to monitor for changes that could signal the development of one of these conditions. If you experience any unusual or unexpected effects, contact your doctor to have these effects checked out.
Bleeding: Alemtuzumab may cause a reduced number of platelets in the blood, which can make it difficult to stop cuts from bleeding. If you notice any signs of bleeding, such as frequent nosebleeds, unexplained bruising, or black and tarry stools, notify your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will order routine blood tests to make sure potential problems are caught early.
Immune system and infections: Alemtuzumab may lower your ability to fight infections and may increase the risk of infections and reactivate inactive infections. Your doctor may test for tuberculosis before starting this medication.
Your doctor will do regular tests of immune system function while you are using this medication. If you develop a severe infection, contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Infusion Reactions: Alemtuzumab may cause side effects while the medication is being given, and for a period of time afterwards. If you experience headache, rash, fever, itchiness, chills, flushing, chest pain or discomfort or dizziness, let your doctor know immediately. Your doctor may give you medications to help prevent these effects.
Malignancies (cancer): Alemtuzumab may increase the risk of cancer. If you have cancer or have had cancer in the past, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML): There have been reports of PML after using alemtuzumab. PML is a rare disorder that causes nerve damage in the brain. If you experience memory loss, vision loss, trouble thinking, or difficulty walking, contact your doctor immediately.
Serious infections: Alemtuzumab can affect the way your body's natural defenses work to fight infection. This makes the body more likely to develop infections due to bacteria, viruses, and fungi. This effect is increased if you are taking alemtuzumab with other medications that reduce the body's ability to fight infection. For some people, these infections have been fatal. If you have a history of chronic or frequent infections, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Stop taking the medication and tell your doctor right away if you notice symptoms of a serious infection, such as fever, chills, headache, flu-like symptoms, feeling tired, cough, blood in the sputum, shortness of breath, night sweats, weight loss, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, frequency or burning while passing urine, redness or swelling of skin or joint, cold sores, tooth pain, or new or worsening pain in any part of the body.
Vaccinations: It is not known how effective vaccines may be after treatment with this medication. Certain immunizations may be dangerous if given while receiving or shortly after receiving a treatment course of alemtuzumab. Before starting treatment with this medication, check with your doctor to ensure your immunizations are up to date.
Pregnancy: This medication should not be used during pregnancy unless the benefits outweigh the risks. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.
Women who may become pregnant should use effective birth control when receiving alemtuzumab and for at least 4 months after the course of treatment.
Breast-feeding: It is not known if alemtuzumab passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking this medication, it may affect your baby. Women should not breast feed for at least 4 months after the last infusion of a treatment course. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.
Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children.