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Fludarabine - Injection

Pronunciation: flew-DARE-uh-bean

Common Brand Name(s): Fludara

Important: How To Use This Information

This is a summary and does NOT have all possible information about this product. This information does not assure that this product is safe, effective, or appropriate for you. This information is not individual medical advice and does not substitute for the advice of your health care professional. Always ask your health care professional for complete information about this product and your specific health needs.

Warning

This medication may cause certain severe blood and bone marrow problems (low red blood cells/white blood cells/platelets, hemolytic anemia). These problems can decrease your body's ability to prevent/stop bleeding, fight infection, or carry enough oxygen in your blood. Tell your doctor right away if you develop easy bleeding/bruising, unusual tiredness, fast/pounding heartbeat, pale/bluish skin color, or signs of infection (such as sore throat that doesn't go away, fever, chills).

Fludarabine may rarely cause severe (sometimes fatal) central nervous system problems. Symptoms may not occur until weeks after your last treatment. Tell your doctor right away if you notice any vision changes, seizures, agitation, confusion, or numbness/tingling.

Do not use fludarabine with pentostatin (deoxycoformycin). Use of these 2 medications together has caused fatal lung problems.

Uses

This medication is used to treat leukemia and other cancers. It works by slowing or stopping the growth of cancer cells.

How To Use

This medication is given by injection into a vein over 30 minutes by a health care professional. It is given as directed by your doctor, usually once a day for 5 days.

Dosage is based on your medical condition, body size, and response to treatment. Your doctor will check your blood counts to make sure you can receive your next cycle. Keep all medical/lab appointments.

If this medication touches your skin, immediately wash the area well with soap and water. If this medication gets in your eye, open the eyelid and flush with water, then get medical help right away.

Side Effects

See also Warning section.

Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, muscle aches, tiredness, loss of appetite, and pain/redness at the injection site may occur. Nausea and vomiting can be severe. In some cases, your doctor may prescribe medication to prevent or relieve nausea and vomiting. Eating several small meals, not eating before treatment, or limiting activity may help lessen some of these effects. If any of these effects last or get worse, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.

Many people using this medication may have serious side effects. However, you have been prescribed this drug because your doctor has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Careful monitoring by your doctor may decrease your risk.

Pain or sores in the mouth and throat may occur. Brush your teeth gently/carefully, avoid using mouthwash that contains alcohol, and rinse your mouth frequently with cool water mixed with baking soda or salt. It may also be best to eat soft, moist foods.

Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including:

  • fast/irregular heartbeat
  • swelling ankles/feet

This medication affects your blood cells, reducing your ability to fight infections. Although fever and chills are common side effects of fludarabine, they may also be signs of an infection. Tell your doctor if you develop chills or fever.

Fludarabine sometimes causes side effects due to the rapid destruction of cancer cells (tumor lysis syndrome). To lower your risk, your doctor may add a medication and tell you to drink plenty of fluids. Tell your doctor right away if you have symptoms such as:

  • low back/side pain (flank pain)
  • signs of kidney problems (such as painful urination, pink/bloody urine, change in the amount of urine)
  • muscle spasms/weakness

Get medical help right away if you have any very serious side effects, including:

  • cough that doesn't go away
  • bloody/black/tarry stool
  • coughing up blood
  • painful/difficult breathing
  • chest pain
  • seizures

A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including:

  • rash
  • itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat)
  • severe dizziness
  • trouble breathing

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 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch.

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

Precautions

Before using fludarabine, 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.

Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of:

  • current infections
  • certain virus illnesses (herpes, chickenpox)
  • blood disorders (such as anemia, clotting problems)
  • kidney problems

Tell your health care professional that you are using fludarabine before having any immunizations/vaccinations. Avoid contact with people who have recently received live vaccines (such as flu vaccine inhaled through the nose).

Fludarabine can make you more likely to get infections or may worsen any current infections. Avoid contact with people who have infections that may spread to others (such as chickenpox, measles, flu). Consult your doctor if you have been exposed to an infection or for more details.

To lower your chance of getting cut, bruised, or injured, use caution with sharp objects like razors and nail cutters, and avoid activities such as contact sports.

Older adults may be at greater risk for side effects (such as infection, bleeding) while using this drug.

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. You should not become pregnant while using fludarabine. Fludarabine may harm an unborn baby. Men and women using this medication should ask about reliable forms of birth control during treatment and for 6 months after the last dose. If you or your partner becomes pregnant, talk to your doctor right away about the risks and benefits of this medication.

It is unknown if this medication passes into breast milk. Because of the possible risk to the infant, breast-feeding while using this drug is not recommended. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.

Drug 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:

  • "blood thinners" (such as warfarin, enoxaparin)
  • live vaccines (such as flu vaccine inhaled through the nose, typhoid/polio vaccine taken by mouth)
  • pentostatin
  • other drugs that weaken the immune system/increase the risk of infection (such as natalizumab, rituximab)
  • salicylates/NSAIDs (such as aspirin, ibuprofen, naproxen)

Check all prescription and nonprescription medicine labels carefully since many contain pain relievers/fever reducers (NSAIDs such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin) that can increase your risk of bleeding. Low-dose aspirin should be continued if prescribed by your doctor for heart attack or stroke prevention (usually 81-162 milligrams a day). Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details.

Overdose

If someone has overdosed and has serious symptoms such as passing out or trouble breathing, call 911. Otherwise, call a poison control center right away. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Alberta residents can call PADIS (Poison and Drug Information Service) 24 hours a day at 1-800-332-1414. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center.

Notes

Lab and/or medical tests (such as complete blood count) should be done while you are using this medication. Keep all medical and lab appointments. Consult your doctor for more details.

Missed Dose

It is important to get each dose of this medication as scheduled. If you miss a dose, ask your doctor or pharmacist right away for a new dosing schedule.

If you have questions about missing a dose or you don't have more medication, contact your healthcare provider or pharmacist.

Storage

Consult the product instructions and your pharmacist for storage details. Keep all medications away from children and pets.

Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company.

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).

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated, disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Learn how we develop our content.

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