Generic Name: pemetrexed (pem e TREX ed)
Brand Name: Alimta
What is Alimta?
Alimta (pemetrexed) is a cancer medication that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.
Alimta is used to treat non-small cell lung cancer after other cancer medications have been tried without successful treatment.
Alimta is also used with another medication called cisplatin (Platinol) to treat mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer associated with exposure to asbestos.
Alimta may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
Important information about Alimta
Do not use Alimta if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby.
You should not receive Alimta if you are allergic to pemetrexed.
Before you receive Alimta, tell your doctor you have kidney or liver disease, bone marrow suppression, a weak immune system, or excess fluid in the space around your lung, liver, or other internal organs.
Tell your doctor about all other medicines you use, especially an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn, Naprelan, Treximet), celecoxib (Celebrex), diclofenac (Arthrotec, Cambia, Cataflam, Voltaren, Flector Patch, Pennsaid, Solareze), indomethacin (Indocin), meloxicam (Mobic), and others.
To prevent certain side effects of Alimta, you will need to take folic acid supplements and receive vitamin B12 injections (starting 7 days before your first dose of Alimta). Take only the amount of folic acid that your doctor has prescribed.
Alimta can lower blood cells that help your body fight infections and help your blood to clot. Your blood will need to be tested often. Your cancer treatments may be delayed based on the results of these tests. Avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Avoid activities that may increase your risk of bleeding injury. Tell your doctor at once if you develop signs of infection.
Call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect while using Alimta such as fever, flu symptoms, sore throat, mouth sores, pale skin, easy bruising or bleeding, ongoing vomiting or diarrhea, increased thirst, urinating less than usual, pounding heartbeats, and swelling or rapid weight gain.
Before receiving Alimta
You should not receive Alimta if you are allergic to pemetrexed.
To make sure you can safely take Alimta, tell your doctor if you have other medical conditions, especially:
bone marrow suppression;
a weak immune system; or
excess fluid in the space around your lung, liver, or other internal organs, including pleural effusion (fluid around the lungs) or ascites (fluid around the liver).
FDA pregnancy category D. Do not use Alimta if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby. Use effective birth control, and tell your doctor if you become pregnant during treatment.
See also: Alimta pregnancy and breastfeeding warnings (in more detail)
It is not known whether pemetrexed passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are using Alimta.
How is Alimta given?
Alimta is injected into a vein through an IV. You will receive this injection in a clinic or hospital setting. Alimta must be given slowly, and the IV infusion can take up to 10 minutes to complete.
To prevent certain side effects of Alimta, you will need to take folic acid supplements and receive vitamin B12 injections (starting 7 days before your first dose of pemetrexed). Take only the amount of folic acid that your doctor has prescribed.
Alimta is usually given every 3 weeks. Your doctor will determine how many treatment cycles you should receive.
Your doctor may also prescribe steroid medication to reduce certain side effects of Alimta. Follow your doctor's dosing instructions very carefully.
Alimta can lower blood cells that help your body fight infections and help your blood to clot. This can make it easier for you to bleed from an injury or get sick from being around others who are ill. Your blood may need to be tested often. Visit your doctor regularly.
Alimta injection, should be stored at 25°C (77°F); excursions permitted to 15-30°C (59-86°F).
What happens if I miss a dose?
Call your doctor for instructions if you miss an appointment for your Alimta injection.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.
Overdose symptoms may include severe forms of some of the side effects listed in this medication guide.
What should I avoid while receiving Alimta?
Avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Tell your doctor at once if you develop signs of infection.
Avoid activities that may increase your risk of bleeding or injury. Use extra care to prevent bleeding while shaving or brushing your teeth.
Alimta side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction to Alimta: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:
fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms, sore throat;
white patches or sores inside your mouth or on your lips;
pale skin, feeling light-headed or short of breath, rapid heart rate, trouble concentrating;
easy bruising, unusual bleeding (nose, mouth, vagina, or rectum), purple or red pinpoint spots under your skin;
feeling very thirsty or hot, being unable to urinate, heavy sweating, or hot and dry skin
severe ongoing vomiting or diarrhea;
urinating less than usual or not at all;
weakness, confusion, increased thirst, pounding heartbeats or fluttering in your chest; or
swelling, weight gain, feeling short of breath.
Less serious Alimta side effects may include:
nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite;
heartburn, upset stomach;
hair loss; or
mild itching or rash;
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Tell your doctor about any unusual or bothersome side effect. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Alimta side effects (in more detail)
What other drugs will affect Alimta?
Tell your doctor about all other medicines you use, especially:
lithium (Eskalith, Lithobid);
methotrexate (Rheumatrex, Trexall);
an NSAID (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn, Naprelan, Treximet), celecoxib (Celebrex), diclofenac (Arthrotec, Cambia, Cataflam, Voltaren, Flector Patch, Pennsaid, Solareze), indomethacin (Indocin), meloxicam (Mobic), and others;
medicines used to treat ulcerative colitis, such as mesalamine (Pentasa) or sulfasalazine (Azulfidine);
medicines used to prevent organ transplant rejection, such as cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral, Sandimmune), sirolimus (Rapamune) or tacrolimus (Prograf);
IV antibiotics such as amphotericin B (Amphotec, AmBisome, Abelcet), amikacin (Amikin), bacitracin (Baci IM), capreomycin (Capastat), gentamicin (Garamycin), kanamycin (Kantrex), streptomycin, or vancomycin (Vancocin, Vancoled);
antiviral medicines such as acyclovir (Zovirax), adefovir (Hepsera), cidofovir (Vistide), foscarnet (Foscavir), ganciclovir (Cytovene), valacyclovir (Valtrex), or valganciclovir (Valcyte); or
cancer medicine such as aldesleukin (Proleukin), carmustine (BiCNU, Gliadel), cisplatin (Platinol), ifosfamide (Ifex), oxaliplatin (Eloxatin), streptozocin (Zanosar), or tretinoin (Vesanoid).
This list is not complete and other drugs may interact with Alimta. Tell your doctor about all medications you use. This includes prescription, over-the-counter, vitamin, and herbal products. Do not start a new medication without telling your doctor.
More Alimta resources
Where can I get more information?
- Your pharmacist can provide more information about Alimta.
- Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use Alimta only for the indication prescribed.
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Copyright 1996-2012 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 4.01. Revision Date: 2012-09-13, 8:41:54 AM.