Generic Name: belatacept (bel AT a sept)
Brand Name: Nulojix
What is belatacept?
Belatacept lowers your body's immune system. The immune system helps your body fight infections. The immune system can also fight or "reject" a transplanted organ such as a kidney. This is because the immune system treats the new organ as an invader.
Belatacept is used in combination with other medicines to prevent organ rejection after a kidney transplant.
Belatacept may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
What is the most important information I should know about belatacept?
Belatacept may cause your body to produce too much of a certain type of white blood cell. This can lead to serious conditions including cancer, severe brain infection causing disability or death, or a viral infection causing kidney transplant failure.
Call your doctor right away if you have symptoms such as: fever, swollen glands, flu symptoms, night sweats, weight loss, vomiting or diarrhea, painful or difficult urination, blood in your urine, a new skin lesion, any change in your mental state, decreased vision, weakness on one side of your body, problems with speech or walking, or pain on the side of your transplant.
What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before receiving belatacept?
You should not receive belatacept if you are allergic to it, or:
if you have never been exposed to Epstein-Barr virus (your doctor will perform a test to confirm this); or
if you have ever received a liver transplant.
Talk with your doctor about the risks and benefits of using this medicine. Belatacept can lower blood cells that help fight infection, and may cause you to produce too much of a certain type of white blood cell. This can lead to serious conditions including cancer, severe brain infection causing disability or death, or a viral infection causing kidney transplant failure.
To make sure belatacept is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
cytomegalovirus (CMV); or
if you are scheduled to receive any vaccine.
It is not known whether belatacept will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
If you are pregnant, or you are a man and your sexual partner is pregnant, your name may be listed on a pregnancy registry. This is to track the outcome of the pregnancy and to evaluate any effects of belatacept on the baby.
It is not known whether belatacept passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are using belatacept.
How is belatacept given?
Belatacept is injected into a vein through an IV. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.
Belatacept must be given slowly, and the IV infusion can take up at least 30 minutes to complete.
Belatacept is usually given just before your kidney transplant, and again 5 days later, followed by once every 2 to 4 weeks. Follow your doctor's dosing instructions very carefully.
Belatacept can increase your risk of infection by changing the way your immune system works. You will need frequent medical tests.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Call your doctor for instructions if you miss an appointment for your belatacept injection.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.
What should I avoid while receiving belatacept?
Avoid exposure to sunlight or tanning beds. Belatacept can increase your risk of skin cancer. Wear protective clothing and use sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) when you are outdoors.
Do not receive a "live" vaccine while using belatacept. The vaccine may not work as well during this time, and may not fully protect you from disease. Live vaccines include measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), polio, rotavirus, typhoid, yellow fever, varicella (chickenpox), zoster (shingles), and nasal flu (influenza) vaccine.
Belatacept side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Serious and sometimes fatal infections may occur. Call your doctor right away if you have signs of infection such as:
fever, swollen glands, flu symptoms, night sweats, stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss;
any change in your mental state, weakness on one side of your body, decreased vision, problems with speech or walking;
blood in your urine, painful or difficult urination, little or no urinating;
pain on the side where you received the transplanted kidney; or
a new skin lesion, or a mole that has changed in size or color.
Also call your doctor at once if you have:
low potassium--constipation, numbness or tingling, tiredness, muscle weakness, slow heart rate, fainting;
high potassium--nausea, slow or unusual heart rate, weakness, loss of movement; or
low red blood cells (anemia)--pale skin, feeling light-headed or short of breath, rapid heart rate, trouble concentrating.
Common side effects may include:
nausea, diarrhea, constipation;
swelling in your hands or feet.
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.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
What other drugs will affect belatacept?
Other drugs may interact with belatacept, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell each of your health care providers about all medicines you use now and any medicine you start or stop using.
More about Nulojix (belatacept)
Related treatment guides
Where can I get more information?
- Your pharmacist can provide more information about belatacept.
- 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.
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