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What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before receiving pemetrexed (Alimta)?
You should not receive this medication if you are allergic to pemetrexed.
If you have certain conditions, you may need a dose adjustment or special tests to safely use this medication. Before you receive pemetrexed, tell your doctor if you are allergic to any drugs, or if you have:
FDA pregnancy category D. This medication can cause harm to an unborn baby. Do not receive pemetrexed without telling your doctor if you are pregnant. Use an effective form of birth control, and tell your doctor if you become pregnant during treatment.
It is not known whether pemetrexed passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not receive this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.
How is pemetrexed given (Alimta)?
Pemetrexed is given as an injection through a needle placed into a vein. You will receive this injection in a clinic or hospital setting. The medicine must be given slowly through an IV infusion, and can take up to 10 minutes to complete.
Throughout your treatment with pemetrexed, you will need to take folic acid and vitamin B-12 to protect your stomach, blood cells, and bone marrow from the side effects of pemetrexed. You will need to start taking these supplements a week before receiving your first pemetrexed infusion, and will keep taking them for 3 weeks after your treatment ends.
Vitamin B-12 and folic acid are available over the counter. Be sure to take only the forms and strengths of these supplements that your doctor has recommended.
Your doctor may also prescribe steroid medications to reduce certain side effects of pemetrexed.
To treat mesothelioma, the pemetrexed injection is usually followed by infusion of cisplatin (Platinol) 30 minutes later. Cisplatin must be given very slowly, and is usually infused over 2 hours.
Pemetrexed is usually given every 3 weeks. Your doctor will determine how many treatment cycles you should receive.
Pemetrexed can lower the blood cells that help your body fight infections. This can make it easier for you to bleed from an injury or get sick from being around others who are ill. To be sure your blood cells do not get too low, your blood will need to be tested on a regular basis. Your cancer treatments may be delayed based on the results of these tests. Do not miss any scheduled visits to your doctor.
Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
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