Posted on April 28th, 2009 by
Generic Name: pemetrexed (pe-me-TRECKS-ate) sodium
Trade Name: Alimta®
How is this drug used? Pemetrexed is used for treatment of inoperable malignant pleural mesothelioma in combination with the chemotherapy agent cisplatin. It is also used as a first-line treatment in combination with cisplatin for advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), or for maintenance therapy in patients whose NSCLC has not advanced, or as a single agent for advanced NSCLC patients who have had prior chemotherapy.
It is important for patients to remember that physicians have the ability to prescribe medication for conditions other than those for which the drug has been approved by the FDA. Patients who have received a prescription of this drug for a condition other than which it is approved may wish to discuss this issue with their physician.
What is the mechanism of action? Pemetrexed belongs to a class of drugs called anti-folates. Pemetrexed produces its anti-cancer effects by disrupting metabolic processes of a cell that are dependent upon folate. By disruption of folate-dependent pathways, development of new DNA is inhibited, and cellular replication is not able to take place.
How is pemetrexed given (administered)? Pemetrexed is administered into a vein (intravenously) and the dose depends on several factors, including the condition being treated, the size of the patient, the particular regimen being used, and the overall health of the patient. Patients are also treated with vitamin B12 and folic acid to reduce side effects caused by pemetrexed. Corticosteroids may be given to reduce the incidence or severity of side effects to the skin caused by treatment.
How are patients monitored? Patients will usually have scheduled meetings with their healthcare provider while they are being treated with pemetrexed. Typically, blood will be drawn to check levels of blood cells and to monitor functions of some organ systems, such as the kidneys or liver. Patients may also undergo physical examinations, scans or other measures to assess side effects and response to therapy. Patients will also be monitored for blood clots. Patients experiencing swelling, pain or redness in one extremity and not the other, sudden difficulty or pain in breathing, sudden and severe headache or visual disturbances should tell their healthcare provider immediately.
What are the common (occur in 30% or more of patients) side effects of treatment with pemetrexed?
What are the less common (occur in 10% to 29% of patients) side effects of treatment with pemetrexed?
This is not a complete list of side effects. Some patients may experience other side effects that are not listed here. Patients may wish to discuss with their physician the other less common side effects of this drug, some of which may be serious.
Some side effects may require medical attention. Other side effects do not require medical attention and may go away during treatment. Patients should check with their physician about any side effects that continue or are bothersome.
What can patients do to help alleviate or prevent discomfort and side effects?
Are there any special precautions patients should be aware of before starting treatment?
When should patients notify their physician?
What is a package insert?
A package insert is required by the FDA and contains a summary of the essential scientific information needed for the safe and effective use of the drug for healthcare providers and consumers. A package insert typically includes information regarding specific indications, administration schedules, dosing, side effects, contraindications, results from some clinical trials, chemical structure, pharmacokinetics and metabolism of the specific drug. By carefully reviewing the package insert, you will get the most complete and current information about how to safely use this drug. If you do not have the package insert for the drug you are using, your pharmacist or physician may be able to provide you with a copy.
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Important Limitations of Use
The information provided above on the drug you have selected is provided for your information only and is not a substitute for consultation with an appropriate medical doctor. We are providing this information solely as a courtesy and, as such, it is in no way a recommendation as to the safety, efficacy, or appropriateness of any particular drug, regimen, dosing schedule for any particular cancer, condition, or patient nor is it in any way to be considered medical advice. Patients should discuss the appropriateness of a particular drug or chemotherapy regimen with their physician.
As with any printed reference, the use of particular drugs, regimens and drug dosages may become out-of-date over time, since new information may have been published and become generally accepted after the latest update to this printed information. Please keep in mind that health care professionals are fully responsible for practicing within current standards, avoiding use of outdated regimens, employing good clinical judgment in selecting drugs and/or regimens, in calculating doses for individual patients, and verifying all dosage calculations.
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