Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Nov 28, 2022.
Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
Available Dosage Forms:
Therapeutic Class: Antipruritic
Chemical Class: Opioid
Uses for difelikefalin
Difelikefalin injection is used to treat moderate to severe pruritus (skin itching) associated with chronic kidney disease (CKD-aP) in patients undergoing hemodialysis.
Difelikefalin is to be given only by or under the supervision of your doctor.
Before using difelikefalin
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For difelikefalin, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to difelikefalin or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of difelikefalin injection in the pediatric population. Safety and efficacy have not been established.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of difelikefalin injection in the elderly.
There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.
Interactions with medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. Tell your healthcare professional if you are taking any other prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine.
Interactions with food/tobacco/alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Other medical problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of difelikefalin. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Liver disease, mild to moderate—Use with caution. The effects may be increased because of slower removal of the medicine from the body.
- Liver disease, severe or
- Patients on peritoneal dialysis—Use is not recommended in patients with these conditions.
Proper use of difelikefalin
A nurse or other trained health professional will give you difelikefalin in a medical facility. It is given through a needle placed into one of your veins. It is usually given at the end of each dialysis treatment.
Call your doctor or pharmacist for instructions.
Precautions while using difelikefalin
It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to make sure that difelikefalin is working properly and to decide if you should continue to receive it.
Difelikefalin may cause some people to become dizzy, drowsy, or less alert than they are normally. It may also cause confusion, mental changes, or problems with walking, which may lead to falls. Do not drive or do anything else that could be dangerous until you know how difelikefalin affects you.
Difelikefalin will add to the effects of other CNS depressants (medicines that can make you drowsy or less alert). Some examples of CNS depressants are antihistamines or medicine for allergies or colds, sedatives, tranquilizers, or sleeping medicine, other prescription pain medicine or narcotics, medicine for seizures or barbiturates, muscle relaxants, or anesthetics, including some dental anesthetics. Check with your doctor before taking any of the other medicines listed above while you are receiving difelikefalin.
Difelikefalin side effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor or nurse immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
- trouble in walking
- irregular heartbeat
- mental depression or anxiety
- nausea or vomiting
- nightmares or unusually vivid dreams
- numbness or tingling in the hands, feet, or lips
- sleepiness or unusual drowsiness
- stomach pain
- trouble breathing
- weakness or heaviness of the legs
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
More about difelikefalin
- Check interactions
- Side effects
- Dosage information
- During pregnancy
- Drug class: peripheral opioid receptor agonists
Related treatment guides
Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.