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Targretin (topical)

Generic Name: bexarotene (topical) (beks AIR oh teen)
Brand Name: Targretin Topical

What is Targretin?

Targretin is a cancer medication that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.

Targretin (for the skin) is used to treat skin lesions caused by cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL). Bexarotene is usually given after other cancer medications have been tried without successful treatment.

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

Important Information

Targretin can harm an unborn baby or cause birth defects. Do not use if you are pregnant, or if you are a man and your sexual partner is pregnant. Use at least 2 reliable forms of birth control while either sexual partner is using this medicine, and for at least 30 days after treatment ends.

Stop using this medication and tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant, if you stop using birth control, or if you miss a menstrual period.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use Targretin if you are allergic to it, or if you are pregnant.

To make sure Targretin is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

This medication can harm an unborn baby or cause birth defects. Do not use Targretin if you are pregnant, or if you are a man and your sexual partner is pregnant.

  • If you are a woman, you must have a negative pregnancy test within 7 days before you start using Targretin. A pregnancy test is also required every month during treatment with this medicine.

  • Stop using this medication and tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant, if you stop using birth control, or if you miss a menstrual period.

  • If you are a man, use a condom to prevent pregnancy during your treatment. Continue using a condom for at least 30 days after you stop using Targretin.

  • Use at least 2 reliable forms of birth control while either sexual partner is using Targretin. Keep using 2 forms of birth control for at least 30 days after you stop using this medicine.

  • Tell your doctor right away if a pregnancy occurs while either the mother or the father is using Targretin.

It is not known whether Targretin passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are using this medicine.

How should I use Targretin?

Follow all directions on your prescription label. Do not use this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

Targretin is usually applied once every other day for the first week. Your doctor may gradually increase your dose each week, until you are applying the medication 2 or more times every day. Follow your doctor's dosing instructions very carefully.

Women who use Targretin should start the medication on the second or third day of a normal menstrual period.

Wash your hands before and after using Targretin, unless you are using the medication to treat the skin on your hands.

Apply enough gel to cover each lesion. Allow the gel to dry before covering with clothing. Do not cover the treated skin with a bandage.

Avoid applying the medication to unaffected areas. If medication accidentally gets on areas that do not need treatment, wash it off.

It may take up to several months before your symptoms improve. Keep using the medication as directed and tell your doctor if your symptoms do not improve.

Store at room temperature away from moisture, heat, and light.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Use the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

An overdose of Targretin is not expected to be dangerous. Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222 if anyone has accidentally swallowed the medication.

What should I avoid while using Targretin?

Avoid getting this medication in your eyes, mouth, or nose. If this does happen, rinse with water.

This medicine can pass into body fluids (urine, feces, vomit). 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.

Avoid taking a vitamin A supplement without your doctor's advice. Use only the amount your doctor recommends.

Avoid using other medications on the areas you treat with Targretin unless your doctor tells you to.

Do not use insect repellents or other products that contain DEET (N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide) while using Targretin. Bexarotene may increase DEET toxicity, which could be dangerous.

Targretin 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.

Stop using Targretin and call your doctor at once if you have:

  • severe skin irritation (pain, burning, stinging, itching) after applying this medication;

  • severe skin rash or redness; or

  • swelling, bleeding, or tearing of treated skin.

Common side effects may include:

  • mild burning, stinging, or itching;

  • mild pain, redness, or irritation; or

  • skin dryness or peeling.

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 Targretin?

It is not likely that other drugs you take orally or inject will have an effect on topically applied Targretin. But many drugs can interact with each other. Tell each of your health care providers about all medicines you use, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your doctor or pharmacist can provide more information about Targretin.
  • 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.
  • Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2012 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 4.04.

Date modified: January 03, 2018
Last reviewed: August 04, 2015