Pemetrexed (Injection)

Introduction

Pemetrexed (pem-e-TREX-ed)

Treats certain types of cancer in or near the lungs. This medicine may be used alone or with other medicines.

Brand Name(s)

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

Alimta

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used

You should not receive this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to pemetrexed, or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

How to Use This Medicine

Injectable

  • Medicines used to treat cancer are very strong and can have many side effects. Before receiving this medicine, make sure you understand all the risks and benefits. It is important for you to work closely with your doctor during your treatment.
  • You will receive this medicine while you are in a hospital or cancer treatment center. A nurse or other trained health professional will give you this medicine.
  • Your doctor will prescribe your exact dose and tell you how often it should be given. This medicine is given through a needle placed in one of your veins.
  • The medicine is usually given on day 1 of a treatment cycle. This treatment cycle is often 21 days, but it might be longer.
  • If any of this medicine gets on your skin or in your eyes, nose, or mouth, tell your caregiver right away. You will need to wash off the medicine right away.
  • Your doctor may tell you to take a folic acid supplement, vitamin B12, and a steroid medicine such as dexamethasone (Decadron®). These medicines could help prevent some side effects of pemetrexed. Vitamin B12 is often given as an injection (shot). Your doctor will tell you how much of each medicine to take and when to take them. You might want to write your medicine schedule on a calendar to help you remember.

If a dose is missed:

  • This medicine needs to be given on a fixed schedule. If you miss a dose, call your doctor, home health caregiver, or treatment clinic for instructions.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are also using probenecid (Benemid®) or pain or arthritis medicine (such as aspirin, diclofenac, ibuprofen, Advil®, Motrin®, or Voltaren®). Make sure your doctor knows about all the other medicines you are using.
  • Talk to your doctor before getting flu shots or other vaccines while you are receiving this medicine. Vaccines may not work as well, or they could make you ill while you are using this medicine.

Warnings While Using This Medicine

  • Using this medicine while you are pregnant can harm your unborn baby. Use an effective form of birth control to keep from getting pregnant. If you think you have become pregnant while using the medicine, tell your doctor right away.
  • Make sure your doctor knows if you have kidney disease, liver disease, bone marrow problems (anemia), a pleural effusion (fluid around your lungs), or ascites (fluid in your abdomen).
  • This medicine lowers the number of some types of blood cells in your body. Because of this, you may bleed or get infections more easily. To help with these problems, avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Wash your hands often. Stay away from rough sports or other situations where you could be bruised, cut, or injured. Brush and floss your teeth gently. Be careful when using sharp objects, including razors and fingernail clippers.
  • Your doctor will need to check your blood or urine at regular visits while you are using this medicine. Be sure to keep all appointments.
  • Cancer medicines can cause diarrhea, nausea, and/or vomiting in most people, sometimes even after receiving medicines to prevent it. Ask your doctor or nurse about other ways to control these side effects.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing.
  • Chest pain, shortness of breath, or coughing up blood.
  • Decrease in how much or how often you urinate.
  • Dry mouth or skin, increased thirst, lightheadedness, dizziness, or fainting.
  • Fever, chills, cough, sore throat, and body aches.
  • Lower back or side pain.
  • Numbness or weakness in your arm or leg, or on one side of your body.
  • Pain in your lower leg (calf).
  • Pain or redness of the skin in the area of earlier radiation treatment.
  • Rapid weight gain.
  • Red or dark brown urine.
  • Skin rash.
  • Sudden or severe headache, problems with vision, speech, or walking.
  • Swelling in your hands, ankles, or feet.
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising.
  • Unusual tiredness or weakness.

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Bad or unpleasant taste in your mouth.
  • Constipation, diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting, or upset stomach.
  • Depression or mood changes.
  • Hair loss.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Mild sore throat or difficulty with swallowing.
  • Muscle or joint pain.
  • Numbness, tingling, burning, or painful feelings.
  • Sores or white patches on your lips, mouth, or throat.

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

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

Review Date: 2011-02-04 Reviewed By: Keywords: ,
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