What is gemtuzumab ozogamicin?
Gemtuzumab ozogamicin (also called Mylotarg®) is an anticancer medicine. It is a colorless liquid given into a vein (IV). The bag of medicine must be covered while it is being given because the medicine is sensitive to light.
Gemtuzumab ozogamicin can pose a health hazard to caregivers. All caregivers should take safety precautions while giving this drug. For 48 hours after this drug is given, the patient’s body fluids can contain the drug. During that 48-hour period, caregivers should follow safety guidelines when handling the patient’s vomit, blood, urine, and bowel movements, including diapers. These guidelines include wearing gloves when cleaning up body fluids. For a complete list of safety precautions, see “Do you know… Protecting caregivers from drug hazards.”
Possible side effects of gemtuzumab ozogamicin
- Flu-like reaction, which may cause fever, chills, headache, shortness of breath, and dizziness
- Decreased blood pressure
- Nausea or vomiting
Later (more than a day after treatment starts)
- Low blood counts, which can increase the chance of getting an infection
- Mouth and lips sores
- Decreased level of potassium in the blood
- Decreased appetite
- Decreased liver function
If you have any of these side effects, tell the doctor right away:
- Sudden and severe pain in the upper stomach with nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite
- Rapid weight gain
- Decrease in how much or how often you urinate
- An allergic reaction, including itching, skin redness, severe chills, shortness of breath, low blood pressure, or pain in the chest, side or back
These are the most common side effects, but there may be others. Please report all side effects to the doctor or nurse.
In case of a severe side effect or reaction, call the doctor, nurse, or pharmacist at 595-3300. If you are outside the Memphis area, dial toll-free 1-866-2STJUDE (1-866-278-5833), and press 0 once the call is connected.
Special instructions for gemtuzumab ozogamicin
- The nurse will observe you closely during and after the infusion of gemtuzumab because some people have a severe reaction to this drug.
- The doctor may ask you to take diphenhydramine (Benadryl®) and acetaminophen (Tylenol®) before gemtuzumab is given to prevent the flu-like side effects that can occur. You may be asked to take more doses of acetaminophen (Tylenol®) after you receive gemtuzumab if you have flu-like side effects.
- Unlike other anticancer drugs that you may have received, a second dose of gemtuzumab may be given even if your bloods counts are low.
- Blood will be drawn regularly to check for changes in liver function and blood counts.
- It may be easier for you to get infections while you are receiving gemtuzumab. Stay away from crowds or people with colds, flu, or other infections.
- This medicine may make your mouth sore and irritated. The doctor or nurse may give you oral rinses to keep your mouth clean after you receive gemtuzumab.
- Gemtuzumab can cause nausea and vomiting. The doctor may prescribe medicine to keep you from feeling sick and throwing up after you receive gemtuzumab.
This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.
St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.
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