Alkeran tablets

Generic Name: melphalan (MEL-fa-lan)
Brand Name: Alkeran

Alkeran tablets should only be used under the supervision of a doctor experienced with the use of cancer medicines. Alkeran tablets may cause a decrease in the body's blood cells (bone marrow suppression), which could cause bleeding problems or infection. It may also cause a certain type of blood cell cancer (leukemia). Notify your doctor immediately if you develop unusual bleeding or bruising, unusual fatigue, or signs of an infection (eg, fever, chills, persistent sore throat).


Alkeran tablets is used for:

Treating symptoms of certain types of cancer (multiple myeloma, ovarian cancer). It may also be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor.

Alkeran tablets is an alkylating agent. It works by destroying resting and rapidly dividing tumor cells in certain types of cancer.

Do NOT use Alkeran tablets if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in Alkeran tablets
  • you have used Alkeran tablets before and it did not work
  • you have taken or will be taking palifermin within 24 hours before or after taking Alkeran tablets
  • you are taking nalidixic acid

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

Slideshow: Flashback: FDA Drug Approvals 2013

Before using Alkeran tablets:

Some medical conditions may interact with Alkeran tablets. 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 bone marrow problems, low white blood cell count, low platelet count, an infection, kidney problems, shingles, or chickenpox
  • if you have had chemotherapy or radiation treatment
  • if you have recently had or are scheduled to have a vaccine

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

  • Cisplatin because the risk of Alkeran tablets's side effects may be increased
  • Carmustine (BCNU), cyclosporine, or nalidixic acid because serious lung, kidney, or bowel problems may occur
  • Palifermin because if mouth or tongue sores develop, they may be more severe or last longer

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if Alkeran tablets 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 Alkeran tablets:

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

  • Take Alkeran tablets on an empty stomach at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after eating.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.
  • If you miss a dose of Alkeran tablets, take it as soon as possible. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take 2 doses at once.

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

Important safety information:

  • Alkeran tablets may lower the ability of your body to fight infection. Avoid contact with people who have colds or infections. Do not touch your eyes or the inside of your nose unless you have thoroughly washed your hands first. Tell your doctor if you notice signs of infection like fever, sore throat, rash, or chills.
  • Do not receive a live vaccine (eg, measles, mumps) while you are taking Alkeran tablets. Talk with your doctor before you receive any vaccine.
  • Alkeran tablets may reduce the number of blood cells that are needed for clotting. To prevent bleeding, avoid situations where bruising or injury may occur.
  • If loss of appetite, nausea, or vomiting occurs, ask your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist for ways to lessen these effects.
  • Use of Alkeran tablets may increase your risk of developing another type of cancer. The risk may be greater if you use higher doses of Alkeran tablets or if you use it for a longer period of time. Discuss any questions or concerns with your doctor.
  • Alkeran tablets may affect the ovaries. This may cause irregular or absent menstrual periods and decreased fertility in some women. Discuss any questions or concerns with your doctor.
  • Alkeran tablets may affect the testicles and cause decreased fertility in some men. This may be permanent in some patients. Discuss any questions or concerns with your doctor.
  • Lab tests, including complete blood cell counts, may be performed while you use Alkeran tablets. These tests may be used to monitor your condition or check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
  • Use Alkeran tablets with extreme caution in CHILDREN; safety and effectiveness in children have not been confirmed.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: Alkeran tablets has been shown to cause harm to the fetus. Avoid becoming pregnant while taking Alkeran tablets. If you think you may be pregnant, contact your doctor right away. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using Alkeran tablets while you are pregnant. It is not known if Alkeran tablets is found in breast milk. Do not breast-feed while taking Alkeran tablets.

Possible side effects of Alkeran tablets:

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:

Diarrhea; hair loss; loss of appetite; nausea; vomiting.

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); black, tarry stools; blood in urine or stools; chest pain; dark urine; fainting; fever or chills; irregular or absent menstrual periods; numbness of an arm or leg; pale stools; persistent cough; persistent loss of appetite; severe or persistent diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting; shortness of breath; sore throat; sores on the mouth, tongue, or lips; stomach pain; sudden, severe headache; swelling of hands, ankles, or feet; unusual bruising or bleeding; unusual lumps or growths; unusual tiredness or weakness; weight loss; yellowing eyes and 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 may include diarrhea; severe nausea and vomiting; sores on the mouth, tongue, or lips; symptoms of stomach or bowel bleeding (eg, black, tarry, or bloody stools; vomit that looks like coffee grounds).

Proper storage of Alkeran tablets:

Store Alkeran tablets in the refrigerator, between 36 and 46 degrees F (2 and 8 degrees C). Do not freeze. Store away from heat, moisture, and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep Alkeran tablets out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about Alkeran tablets, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Alkeran tablets 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 Alkeran tablets 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 Alkeran tablets. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to Alkeran tablets. 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 Alkeran tablets.

Issue Date: December 3, 2014
Database Edition 14.4.1.003
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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