Generic Name: gemcitabine (jem-SYE-ta-been)
Brand Name: Gemzar
Gemzar is used for:
Treating certain types of cancer, including cancers of the ovary, pancreas, lung, and breast. Gemzar may be used alone or with other cancer medicines. It may also be used for other conditions as determined by your doctor.
Gemzar is an antimetabolite. It works by preventing certain proteins from being made that are necessary for tumor growth.
Do NOT use Gemzar if:
- you are allergic to any ingredient in Gemzar
- you have a blood disorder, difficulty breathing, or a lung disease, or you are receiving radiation therapy
Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.
Before using Gemzar:
Some medical conditions may interact with Gemzar. 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 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 suppression, liver or kidney problems, chickenpox, or shingles
- if you drink alcohol regularly or have a history of alcohol abuse
Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with Gemzar. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:
- Anticoagulants (eg, warfarin) because the risk of bleeding may be increased
- Hydantoins (eg, phenytoin) because its effectiveness may be decreased by Gemzar, increasing the risk of seizures
This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if Gemzar 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 Gemzar:
Use Gemzar as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.
- Gemzar is usually administered as an injection at your doctor's office, hospital, or clinic. If you are using Gemzar at home, carefully follow the injection procedures taught to you by your health care provider.
- Do not use Gemzar if it contains particles, is cloudy or discolored, or if the vial is cracked or damaged.
- If Gemzar accidentally spills on your skin, wash it off immediately with soap and water. Clean any areas (tables, counter) where Gemzar may have spilled or sprayed.
- Keep this product, as well as syringes and needles, out of the reach of children and 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 Gemzar, use 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 use 2 doses at once.
Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use Gemzar.
Important safety information:
- Gemzar may cause drowsiness. These effects may be worse if you take it with alcohol or certain medicines. Use Gemzar with caution. Do not drive or perform other possibly unsafe tasks until you know how you react to it.
- Gemzar 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.
- Gemzar 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.
- Avoid vaccinations with live virus vaccines (eg, measles, mumps, oral polio) while you are taking Gemzar. Vaccinations may be less effective.
- Lab tests, including liver or kidney function, complete blood cell counts, or platelet counts, may be performed while you use Gemzar. These tests may be used to monitor your condition or check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
- Gemzar should not be used in CHILDREN; safety and effectiveness in children have not been confirmed.
- PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: Gemzar has been shown to cause harm to the fetus. If you become pregnant, contact your doctor. You will need to discuss the benefits and risks of using Gemzar while you are pregnant. It is not known if Gemzar is found in breast milk. Do not breast-feed while you are taking Gemzar.
Possible side effects of Gemzar:
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:
Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:
Abnormal skin sensations; bleeding; blood in the urine; constipation; diarrhea; drowsiness; flu-like symptoms (fever, weakness, loss of appetite, headache, cough, chills, and muscle aches); hair loss; infection (fever, chills, sore throat); itching; loss of appetite; nausea; reaction at the injection site; sleepiness; small red spots under the skin; swelling of the hands or feet; vomiting.
Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); abdominal pain; confusion; dark urine; difficulty breathing; difficulty urinating or decreased amount of urine; irregular or absent menstrual periods; irregular heartbeat; joint or muscle pain; numbness in the arms or legs; painful or frequent urination; seeing or hearing strange things; seizures; shortness of breath; sores on the mouth or lips; unusual bruising or bleeding; unusual tiredness; yellowing of the skin or eyes.
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 decreased ability to fight off infections; severe rash; tingling or numbness in the arms or legs.Proper storage of Gemzar:
Store dry powder of Gemzar at room temperature, between 59 and 86 degrees F (15 and 30 degrees C). Store away from heat, moisture, and light. After mixing, store the solution at room temperature for up to 24 hours. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep Gemzar out of the reach of children and away from pets.
- If you have any questions about Gemzar, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
- Gemzar 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 Gemzar 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 Gemzar. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to Gemzar. 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 Gemzar.
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.