Generic Name: pemetrexed (PEM-e-TREX-ed)
Brand Name: Alimta

Alimta is used for:

Treating malignant pleural mesothelioma and certain types of non-small cell lung cancer in certain patients. It may be used alone or in combination with cisplatin (another anticancer medicine).

Alimta is an antifolate antineoplastic agent. It works by decreasing tumor cell growth.

Do NOT use Alimta if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in Alimta
  • you have severe kidney problems
  • you have taken or will be taking palifermin within 24 hours before or after using Alimta

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

Slideshow: Flashback: FDA Drug Approvals 2013

Before using Alimta:

Some medical conditions may interact with Alimta. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are able to become pregnant
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you have liver or kidney problems, bone marrow problems, diarrhea, an infection, or blood problems (eg, low platelets, low white blood cell count)
  • if you have a history of radiation treatment
  • if you have recently received or are scheduled to receive a vaccine

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with Alimta. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Palifermin because if mouth or tongue sores develop, they may be more severe or last longer
  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) (eg, ibuprofen), probenecid, or medicines that may harm the kidney (eg, aminoglycoside antibiotics [gentamicin], amphotericin B, cyclosporine, tacrolimus, vancomycin) because they may increase the risk of Alimta's side effects. Ask your doctor if you are unsure if any of your medicines might harm the kidney

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if Alimta may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use Alimta:

Use Alimta as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • An extra patient leaflet is available with Alimta. Talk to your pharmacist if you have questions about this information.
  • Alimta is usually given as an injection at your doctor's office, hospital, or clinic. Contact your health care provider if you have any questions.
  • Do not use Alimta if it contains particles, is cloudy or discolored, or if the vial is cracked or damaged.
  • Keep this product, as well as syringes and needles, out of the reach of children and away from pets. Do not reuse needles, syringes, or other materials. Ask your health care provider how to dispose of these materials after use. Follow all local rules for disposal.
  • If you miss a dose of Alimta, contact your doctor right away.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use Alimta.

Important safety information:

  • Alimta may lower the ability of your body to fight infection. Avoid contact with people who have colds or infections. Tell your doctor if you notice signs of infection like fever, sore throat, rash, or chills.
  • If you also take an NSAID (eg, naproxen), you may need to stop taking it for a period of time before you receive Alimta. You will also need to wait for 2 days after you receive Alimta before you begin to take the NSAID again. Check with your doctor for instructions.
  • If you are unsure if any of your medicines are NSAIDs, ask your doctor or pharmacist.
  • If you have not had chickenpox, shingles, or measles, avoid contact with anyone who does.
  • Your doctor will instruct you to take other medicines, such as folic acid, vitamin B12 injections, and corticosteroids (eg, dexamethasone) before using Alimta as well as while you are using it. This may help to decrease the risk of certain serious side effects (eg, blood problems, mouth sores or inflammation). Follow the instructions for taking these medicines closely.
  • If diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or appetite loss occurs, contact your doctor or pharmacist for ways to lessen these effects.
  • You may get redness or sores in your mouth, throat, or on your lips a few days after treatment with Alimta. Contact your doctor if this happens or if you have pain or trouble drinking or swallowing food.
  • Alimta may reduce the number of clot-forming cells (platelets) in your blood. Avoid activities that may cause bruising or injury. Tell your doctor if you have unusual bruising or bleeding. Tell your doctor if you have dark, tarry, or bloody stools.
  • Do not receive a live vaccine (eg, measles, mumps) while you are taking Alimta. Talk with your doctor before you receive any vaccine.
  • Do not get Alimta on your skin. If Alimta spills on your skin, wash immediately with soap and water. Clean any areas (tables, counters) where Alimta may have spilled or sprayed.
  • Tell your doctor or dentist that you use Alimta before you receive any medical or dental care, emergency care, or surgery.
  • If you are able to become pregnant, be sure to use an effective form of birth control while using Alimta. Contact your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions about effective birth control.
  • Lab tests, including complete blood cell counts and kidney and liver function, may be performed while you use Alimta. These tests may be used to monitor your progress or check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
  • Use Alimta with caution in the ELDERLY; they may be more sensitive to its effects.
  • Alimta should be used with extreme caution in CHILDREN; safety and effectiveness have not been confirmed.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: Alimta may cause harm to the fetus. Do not become pregnant while you are using it. If you think you may be pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using Alimta while you are pregnant. It is not known if Alimta is found in breast milk. Do not breast-feed while taking Alimta.

Possible side effects of Alimta:

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Constipation; diarrhea; hair loss; indigestion; loss of appetite; mild sore throat; nausea; pain, swelling, or redness at the injection site; taste changes; tiredness or weakness; vomiting; weight loss.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); burning, numbness, or tingling; chest pain; decreased amount of urine produced; fever, chills, or persistent cough or sore throat; irregular heartbeat; mood or mental changes; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin; redness or sores in your mouth, throat, or on your lips; severe or persistent diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or stomach pain; severe or persistent tiredness or weakness; shortness of breath; swelling of the hands, ankles, or feet; symptoms of dehydration (eg, sluggishness, very dry mouth or eyes); trouble swallowing; unusual bruising or bleeding; unusually pale skin.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center, or emergency room immediately. Symptoms of overdose may include diarrhea; infection with or without fever; inflammation or sores in the mouth or throat; rash; severe tiredness or weakness; unusual bruising or bleeding.

Proper storage of Alimta:

Alimta is usually handled and stored by a health care provider. Keep Alimta out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about Alimta, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Alimta is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take Alimta or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about Alimta. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to Alimta. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using Alimta.

Issue Date: July 2, 2014
Database Edition 14.3.1.001
Copyright © 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

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