Generic Name: pemetrexed (pem e TREX ed)
Brand Name: Alimta
Medically reviewed on August 4, 2017
What is pemetrexed?
Pemetrexed is a cancer medication that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.
Pemetrexed is used to treat non-small cell lung cancer after other cancer medications have been tried without successful treatment.
Pemetrexed is also used with another medication called cisplatin to treat mesothelioma, a form of lung cancer associated with exposure to asbestos.
Pemetrexed may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
Follow all directions on your medicine label and package. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all your medical conditions, allergies, and all medicines you use.
Before taking this medicine
You should not receive this medication if you are allergic to pemetrexed.
To make sure pemetrexed is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
a weak immune system; or
Do not use pemetrexed if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby. Use effective birth control to avoid pregnancy during your treatment with pemetrexed. Follow your doctor's instructions about how long to prevent pregnancy after your treatment ends.
It is not known whether pemetrexed passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are using pemetrexed.
How is pemetrexed given?
Pemetrexed is injected into a vein through an IV. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.
Pemetrexed is usually given every 3 weeks. Your doctor will determine how many treatment cycles you should receive.
To prevent certain side effects of pemetrexed, you will need to take folic acid supplements and receive vitamin B12 injections (starting 7 days before your first dose of pemetrexed). Take only the amount of folic acid that your doctor has prescribed.
Your doctor may also prescribe steroid medication to reduce certain side effects of pemetrexed. Follow your doctor's dosing instructions very carefully.
Pemetrexed can lower blood cells that help your body fight infections and help your blood to clot. Your blood will need to be tested often. Your cancer treatments may be delayed based on the results of these tests.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Call your doctor for instructions if you miss an appointment for your pemetrexed 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 pemetrexed?
Avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Tell your doctor at once if you develop signs of infection.
Avoid activities that may increase your risk of bleeding or injury. Use extra care to prevent bleeding while shaving or brushing your teeth.
Do not receive a "live" vaccine while using pemetrexed, and avoid coming into contact with anyone who has recently received a live vaccine. There is a chance that the virus could be passed on to you. Live vaccines include measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), rotavirus, typhoid, yellow fever, varicella (chickenpox), zoster (shingles), and nasal flu (influenza) vaccine.
This medicine can pass into body fluids (urine, feces, vomit). For at least 48 hours after you receive a dose, avoid allowing your body fluids to come into contact with your hands or other surfaces. Caregivers should wear rubber gloves while cleaning up a patient's body fluids, handling contaminated trash or laundry or changing diapers. Wash hands before and after removing gloves. Wash soiled clothing and linens separately from other laundry.
Pemetrexed 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.
Call your doctor at once if you have:
bone marrow suppression--fever, swollen gums, painful mouth sores, cold or flu symptoms, sore throat, pale skin, easy bruising or bleeding, skin sores, red or pink urine, rapid heart rate, feeling light-headed or short of breath,
kidney problems--swelling, rapid weight gain, little or no urinating;
severe skin reaction--fever, sore throat, swelling in your face or tongue, burning in your eyes, skin pain, followed by a red or purple skin rash that spreads (especially in the face or upper body) and causes blistering and peeling.
Common side effects may include:
tired feeling, loss of appetite, weight loss;
mild rash; or
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 pemetrexed?
Pemetrexed can harm your kidneys. This effect is increased when you also use certain other medicines, including: antivirals, chemotherapy, injected antibiotics, medicine for bowel disorders, medicine to prevent organ transplant rejection, injectable osteoporosis medication, and some pain or arthritis medicines (including aspirin, Tylenol, Advil, and Aleve).
This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with pemetrexed, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.
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.
Copyright 1996-2018 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 5.02.
More about pemetrexed
- Pemetrexed Side Effects
- During Pregnancy
- Dosage Information
- Drug Interactions
- Support Group
- En Español
- 2 Reviews
- Drug class: antimetabolites
Other brands: Alimta