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Thalidomide

Generic Name: Thalidomide (tha LI doe mide)
Brand Name: Thalomid

  • Do not take thalidomide if you are pregnant. Use during pregnancy may cause birth defects or loss of the unborn baby. If you get pregnant while taking this medicine or within 4 weeks after care ends, call your doctor right away.
  • You must have 2 pregnancy tests that show you are NOT pregnant before starting thalidomide. You must have pregnancy tests done while taking this medicine. Talk with your doctor.
  • Use 2 kinds of birth control that you can trust for at least 4 weeks before care begins, during care, and for at least 4 weeks after care ends.
  • If you have sex without using 2 kinds of birth control that you can trust, if you think you may be pregnant, or if you miss your period, call your doctor right away.
  • If you are a man and have sex with a pregnant female or a female who can get pregnant, always use a latex or synthetic condom during sex. Do this even if you have had a vasectomy. Use a latex or synthetic condom during care, during any breaks in care, and for at least 4 weeks after care ends.
  • If you are a man and have unprotected sex with a female who is or could get pregnant, or your female partner gets pregnant within 4 weeks of your last dose, call your doctor right away.
  • The chance of blood clots in your veins or lungs may be raised with thalidomide. Call your doctor right away if you have any chest pain or pressure; coughing up blood; shortness of breath; or pain, warmth, or swelling of the legs or arms.
  • You may only get this medicine through a special program. Talk with your doctor.

Uses of Thalidomide:

  • It is used to treat multiple myeloma.
  • It is used to treat skin signs of leprosy.
  • It may be given to you for other reasons. Talk with the doctor.

What do I need to tell my doctor BEFORE I take Thalidomide?

  • If you have an allergy to thalidomide or any other part of thalidomide.
  • If you are allergic to any drugs like this one, any other drugs, foods, or other substances. Tell your doctor about the allergy and what signs you had, like rash; hives; itching; shortness of breath; wheezing; cough; swelling of face, lips, tongue, or throat; or any other signs.
  • If you are breast-feeding. Do not breast-feed while you take this medicine.

This medicine may interact with other drugs or health problems.

Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all of your drugs (prescription or OTC, natural products, vitamins) and health problems. You must check to make sure that it is safe for you to take thalidomide with all of your drugs and health problems. Do not start, stop, or change the dose of any drug without checking with your doctor.

What are some things I need to know or do while I take Thalidomide?

  • Tell all of your health care providers that you take this medicine. This includes your doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.
  • Avoid driving and doing other tasks or actions that call for you to be alert until you see how thalidomide affects you.
  • To lower the chance of feeling dizzy or passing out, rise slowly if you have been sitting or lying down. Be careful going up and down stairs.
  • Have blood work checked as you have been told by the doctor. Talk with the doctor.
  • Do not donate blood while using this medicine and for 1 month after stopping.
  • If you touch a broken capsule, or the drug inside the capsule, wash the area with soap and water.
  • Talk with your doctor before getting any vaccines. Use with thalidomide may either raise the chance of an infection or make the vaccine not work as well.
  • You may have more of a chance of getting an infection. Wash hands often. Stay away from people with infections, colds, or flu. Some infections have been very bad and even deadly.
  • You may bleed more easily. Be careful and avoid injury. Use a soft toothbrush and an electric razor.
  • Avoid alcohol or other drugs and natural products that slow your actions.
  • This medicine may cause nerve problems. Most of the time, nerve problems have happened after long-term use over a few months. Nerve problems have also happened after short-term use. Signs of nerve problems may happen some time after care has stopped. The signs may go away slowly or may not go away at all. Talk with your doctor.
  • A very bad skin reaction (Stevens-Johnson syndrome/toxic epidermal necrolysis) may happen. It can cause very bad health problems that may not go away, and sometimes death. Get medical help right away if you have signs like red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin (with or without fever); red or irritated eyes; or sores in your mouth, throat, nose, or eyes.
  • If you are 65 or older, use this medicine with care. You could have more side effects.
  • Pregnant women or females of childbearing age must not touch the capsules. Talk with the doctor.
  • Certain drugs may cause birth control pills and other hormone-based birth control to not work. Be sure to tell your doctor or pharmacist about all drugs you take. You will need to see if you need to use other forms of birth control while taking thalidomide.
  • If you are a man, do not donate sperm while using this medicine and for 1 month after stopping.
  • This medicine may affect being able to father a child. Talk with the doctor.

How is this medicine (Thalidomide) best taken?

Use thalidomide as ordered by your doctor. Read all information given to you. Follow all instructions closely.

  • If taking once daily, take with water at bedtime at least 1 hour after the evening meal.
  • Swallow whole. Do not chew, break, or crush.
  • Wear gloves when touching this medicine.

What do I do if I miss a dose?

  • Take a missed dose as soon as you think about it and go back to your normal time.
  • If it has been 12 hours or more since the missed dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your normal time.
  • Do not take 2 doses at the same time or extra doses.

Dosage Information (in more detail)

What are some side effects that I need to call my doctor about right away?

WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Signs of infection like fever, chills, very bad sore throat, ear or sinus pain, cough, more sputum or change in color of sputum, pain with passing urine, mouth sores, or wound that will not heal.
  • Signs of bleeding like throwing up blood or throw up that looks like coffee grounds; coughing up blood; blood in the urine; black, red, or tarry stools; bleeding from the gums; vaginal bleeding that is not normal; bruises without a reason or that get bigger; or any bleeding that is very bad or that you cannot stop.
  • Signs of low calcium levels like muscle cramps or spasms, numbness and tingling, or seizures.
  • A burning, numbness, or tingling feeling that is not normal.
  • Seizures.
  • Dizziness or passing out.
  • Fast or slow heartbeat.
  • Feeling very tired or weak.
  • Patients with cancer who take thalidomide may be at a greater risk of getting a bad health problem called tumor lysis syndrome (TLS). Sometimes, this has been deadly. Call your doctor right away if you have a fast heartbeat or a heartbeat that does not feel normal; any passing out; trouble passing urine; muscle weakness or cramps; upset stomach, throwing up, loose stools, or not able to eat; or feel sluggish.
  • The chance of heart attack or stroke due to blood clots may be raised. Call your doctor right away if you have signs of heart attack like chest pain that may spread to the arms, neck, jaw, back, or stomach; sweating that is not normal; or feeling sick or throwing up. Call your doctor right away if you have signs of stroke like change in strength on 1 side is greater than the other; eyesight, speech, or balance problems; change in thinking clearly and with logic; or very bad headache.

What are some other side effects of Thalidomide?

All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:

  • Feeling tired or weak.
  • Hard stools (constipation).
  • Headache.
  • Swelling.
  • Upset stomach.
  • Not hungry.
  • Dry skin.
  • Feeling sleepy.
  • Anxiety.
  • Shakiness.
  • Weight gain or loss.
  • Change in sex ability.

These are not all of the side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, call your doctor. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088. You may also report side effects at http://www.fda.gov/medwatch.

Side effects (in more detail)

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.

How do I store and/or throw out Thalidomide?

  • Store in the original container at room temperature.
  • Protect from light.
  • Store in a dry place. Do not store in a bathroom.
  • Keep all drugs in a safe place. Keep all drugs out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to throw out unused drugs.

Consumer Information Use and Disclaimer

  • If your symptoms or health problems do not get better or if they become worse, call your doctor.
  • Do not share your drugs with others and do not take anyone else's drugs.
  • Keep a list of all your drugs (prescription, natural products, vitamins, OTC) with you. Give this list to your doctor.
  • Talk with the doctor before starting any new drug, including prescription or OTC, natural products, or vitamins.
  • This medicine comes with an extra patient fact sheet called a Medication Guide. Read it with care. Read it again each time this medicine is refilled. If you have any questions about thalidomide, please talk with the doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only the healthcare provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for a specific patient. 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 thalidomide. 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 the healthcare provider. You must talk with the healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using thalidomide.

Review Date: November 1, 2017

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