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Generic Name: alemtuzumab (AL em TOOZ ue mab)
Brand Name: Campath, Lemtrada

Medically reviewed by on Sep 17, 2018 – Written by Cerner Multum

What is Lemtrada?

See also: Aubagio

Lemtrada is an antibody made from animal DNA.

Lemtrada is used to treat chronic B-cell lymphocytic leukemia or relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis.

Lemtrada is available only from a certified pharmacy under a special program.

Lemtrada may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

Lemtrada can cause life-threatening side effects. Seek emergency medical attention if you have sudden numbness or weakness (especially on one side of the body), severe headache or neck pain, confusion, or problems with speech, vision, or balance.

Call your doctor if you have signs of other serious side effects, such as unusual bruising or bleeding, blood in your urine or vomit, swelling in your feet, fever, swollen glands, muscle aches, diarrhea, or if you feel very weak or tired.

Some side effects may occur during the injection or shortly afterward, including chest pain, trouble breathing, irregular heartbeats, or swelling in your mouth or throat. You will be watched closely for at least 2 hours after receiving Lemtrada.

Lemtrada can have long lasting effects on your body. You may need medical tests for up to 4 years after you stop using Lemtrada.

Before taking this medicine

You should not receive Lemtrada if you are allergic to it. You should not be treated with Lemtrada if you have HIV (human immunodeficiency virus).

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • an active or recent infection, including tuberculosis;

  • kidney disease;

  • a thyroid disorder;

  • a bleeding or blood clotting disorder such as hemophilia; or

  • if you have received a vaccine in the past 6 weeks.

Lemtrada may cause other types of cancer, such as melanoma, thyroid cancer, or blood cancers. Ask your doctor about this risk.

Lemtrada may harm an unborn baby. Use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy while you are using this medicine and for at least 4 months after your last dose. Tell your doctor if you become pregnant.

If you are pregnant, your name may be listed on a pregnancy registry to track the effects of alemtuzumab on the baby.

You should not breast-feed while using Lemtrada.

How is Lemtrada given?

Lemtrada is given as an infusion into a vein. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.

Lemtrada must be given slowly, and the infusion can take 2 to 4 hours to complete.

You may be given other medicines to help prevent certain side effects. Take these medicines for the full prescribed length of time.

You will be watched closely for at least 2 hours after receiving Lemtrada, to make sure you do not have a serious reaction.

Lemtrada affects your immune system. You may get infections more easily, even serious or fatal infections. Your doctor will need to examine you on a regular basis.

Lemtrada can have long lasting effects on your body. You may need medical tests for up to 4 years after you stop using this medicine.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Call your doctor for instructions if you miss an appointment for your Lemtrada.

What happens if I overdose?

Since Lemtrada is given by a healthcare professional in a medical setting, an overdose is unlikely to occur.

What should I avoid while receiving Lemtrada?

Avoid foods that may be a source of Listeria infection, or heat them thoroughly before consuming. This includes deli meat, undercooked meat, seafood, poultry, unpasteurized dairy products, or soft cheeses.

Avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Avoid activities that may increase your risk of bleeding or injury.

Do not receive a "live" vaccine while using Lemtrada, or you could develop a serious infection. Live vaccines include measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), polio, rotavirus, typhoid, yellow fever, varicella (chickenpox), and zoster (shingles).

Lemtrada side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Some side effects may occur during the injection or shortly afterward. Tell your caregiver if you feel weak, dizzy, itchy, nauseated, chilled or feverish, or if you have chest tightness or trouble breathing.

In rare cases, Lemtrada may cause a stroke or blood vessel damage in the head and neck. This could lead to permanent disability or death. Seek emergency medical attention if you have a sudden onset of symptoms such as: numbness or weakness (especially on one side of the body), severe headache or neck pain, confusion, problems with vision or balance, trouble speaking or understanding what is said to you.

Lemtrada can cause your immune system to attack cells and organs in your body. This can lead to life-threatening medical problems such as severe bleeding or kidney damage. Call your doctor right away if you have:

  • easy bruising or bleeding (nosebleeds, bleeding gums);

  • any bleeding that will not stop;

  • purple or red spots under your skin;

  • heavy menstrual periods;

  • blood in your urine;

  • swelling in your legs or feet; or

  • if you cough up blood.

Also call your doctor at once if you have:

  • pain or swelling in your neck or throat, hoarse voice, trouble swallowing;

  • a mole that has changed in size or color;

  • little or no urination;

  • gallbladder symptoms--stomach pain, fever, nausea, vomiting;

  • lung problems--cough, wheezing, chest pain, feeling short of breath;

  • signs of infection--fever, swollen glands, muscle aches, weakness, pale or yellowed skin, diarrhea, dark colored urine, pain or burning when you urinate;

  • symptoms of herpes virus--cold sores around your mouth, skin sores or blisters, itching, tingling, burning pain in your thigh or lower back; or

  • thyroid problems--extreme tiredness, nervousness, fast heartbeats, heavy sweating, constipation, weight gain or loss, swelling of your eyes, feeling cold.

Common side effects may include:

  • nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea;

  • infections;

  • headache, joint pain, back pain, pain in your arms or legs;

  • itching, rash, tingling;

  • dizziness, tiredness, sleep problems (insomnia);

  • vaginal itching or discharge;

  • stuffy nose, throat pain or itching, white patches in your mouth or throat; or

  • flushing (warmth, redness, or tingly feeling).

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect Lemtrada?

Tell your doctor about all your other medicines, especially:

  • drugs that weaken the immune system such as cancer medicine, or medicines to prevent organ transplant rejection.

This list is not complete. Other drugs may affect Lemtrada, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible drug interactions are listed here.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.