Basiliximab (Intravenous)

Basiliximab is an immunosuppressant commonly prescribed for the prevention of transplant rejection.

Overview

When a kidney transplant is performed, a subsequent challenge is getting the body acclimated to the transfer.

The human body has many natural defense mechanisms in place to fight off perceived "foreign invaders". The immune system releases white blood cells when certain threats are detected. Kidney transplant patients are therefore at a heightened risk of organ rejection if added medical intervention is not taken.

To mitigate risks of organ rejection, surgeons occasionally prescribe Basiliximab, an effective immunosuppressant.

As the name suggests, an immunosuppressant reduces the body's normal immune functions by inhibiting white blood cells. The downside to this, however, if that new kidney transplant patients become susceptible to a host of other infections. Consequently, medical providers generally keep a close eye on patients after Basiliximab use.

In the United States, Basiliximab is available under the drug name Simulect. It is currently available in a powdered form and is only taken under the directives and close supervision of a medical provider. In this guide, the focus remains on Basiliximab administered by intravenous (IV) injection.

How it Works

Basiliximab was approved by the FDA in 1998 and it is engineered by the drug manufacturer Novartis using DNA technology. The antibody is derived from a glycoprotein through a series of lab work.

As a synopsis, scientists start out by genetically engineering mouse myeloma cell lines and ferment the glycoprotein over time. The cells are intentionally modified to produce plasmids that contain an RFT5 antibody, an immunosuppressive agent that blocks the interleukin-2 receptor a-chain, which is responsible for targeting organ transplants. A medical provider can explain in further detail the full mechanisms of how it works, as well as the benefits and risks.

Though Basiliximab is primarily prescribed for kidney transplant patients, the drug is also administered in other types of organ transplant cases including:

  • Acute Cardiac Transplant
  • Acute Liver Transplant
  • Prophylaxis of Renal Transplant
  • Refractory Acute GVHD

Condition(s) Treated?

  • Kidney (and other organ) transplants
  • Transplant rejection (preventive)

Type Of Medicine?

  • Immunosuppressant
  • Il-2 Inhibitor
  • Immunosuppressive Agent
  • Monoclonal Antibody

Side Effects

In medical studies, Basiliximab has been shown to have the same side effects across different population groups, including children and adults.

Common Side Effects of Basiliximab

Let us explore some of the most commonly studied side effects of Basiliximab. Patients who are using this medication may experience:

  • Backaches
  • Chills or fevers
  • Coughing
  • Faintness
  • Lethargy
  • Nausea
  • Oral white patches
  • Pain while urinating
  • Sore throat
  • Stomach pain
  • Swelling
  • Tremors
  • Trouble breathing

Less Common Side Effects of Basiliximab

Some less commonly reported adverse effects of taking Basiliximab include:

  • Bloody stools
  • Blurred vision
  • Depression
  • Feeling irritated or anxious
  • Gum sensitivity
  • Mood swings
  • Mouth sores
  • Skin irritation
  • Tingling or numbness

When to Call a Medical Provider

Some of these side effects recede on their own as the body becomes accustomed to the medication. Generally speaking, patients who are taking Basiliximab will be carefully monitored before and after surgery.

If these side effects continue following the discharge from a hospital setting, side effects should be reported to a medical provider. In particular, be sure to inform your doctor if the following symptoms do not go away:

  • Abnormal hair growth
  • Acne
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Headaches
  • Heartburn
  • Insomnia
  • Pain in the muscles or joints
  • Vomiting
  • Weight fluctuations

Dosage

Basiliximab is given by prescription only. Doctors will closely monitor patients when taking Basiliximab and following a kidney transplant to mitigate any issues if these arise.

Basiliximab is primarily used to prevent the rejection of a new kidney transplant. As a rule of thumb, patients typically get one dose before and after a kidney transplant surgery. The following table provides a general idea of the average dose of Basiliximab that is administered to children and adult patients:

  • Adult Patients: 20 MG
  • Minor Patients: 12 MG/M 2 (based on the square meter of the body surface)

Ongoing Doses

In some cases, doctors may prescribe Basiliximab post-op and after a hospital release to reduce the risk of organ rejection. If this is the case, patients should take Basiliximab exactly as prescribed and for as long as ordered.

Follow-up appointments must also be met. During these visits, doctors will check if the medication is working through a series of lab screens.

Basiliximab Preparation and Administration

A trained and qualified nurse or medical provider oversees the administration of Basiliximab. It is given intravenously - which is via an injection into the vein.

The medical worker on duty will start out by mixing the prescribed dosage in in 50 mL NS or D5W, depending on the route. After injection, the solution permeates into the bloodstream over the course of 20-30 minutes.

Interactions

As with most prescription medications, Basiliximab treatments could trigger a negative reaction when used together with certain drugs or treatments. Medical providers complete a full review of a patient's medical history before prescribing Basiliximab. The below information provides a brief summary of the top negative interaction warnings of Basiliximab.

Drug Interactions

When prescribing Basiliximab, patients should not be taking Echinacea - unless it is deemed medically necessary. This combination is not recommended by medical specialists, as using Basiliximab and Echinacea together or simultaneously could potentially cause a negative reaction in patients. If both drugs are medically required, doctors adjust the dose to lower risks.

Other Important Drug Interactions

Patients who have received the following vaccines or medications should not be given Basiliximab as this could cause serious negative interactions.

The list includes but isn't limited to:

  • Anthrax Vaccine
  • Antithymocyte Globulin Equine
  • BCG Vaccine Live
  • Canakinumab
  • Cyclosporine
  • Diphtheria Toxoids
  • Hemophilic Influenza Vaccines
  • Hepatitis Vaccines
  • Human Papillomavirus Vaccines
  • Influenza Virus Vaccines
  • Japanese Encephalitis Virus Vaccine
  • Measles Mumps And Rubella Vaccines
  • Meningococcal A C Y And W-135 Polysaccharide Vaccine Combined
  • Pneumococcal Vaccines
  • Poliovirus Vaccines
  • Rabies Vaccines
  • Rotavirus Oral Vaccines
  • Rubella Vaccines
  • Smallpox Vaccines
  • Tetanus Vaccines
  • Typhoid Vaccines
  • Varicella Vaccines

Dietary Interactions

Before surgery, be sure to list all noteworthy dietary or lifestyle habits that could possibly trigger a negative reaction to Basiliximab. In particular, be sure to tell your doctor if you drink alcohol or smoke tobacco products.

Supplements

Advise your doctor if you take herbal supplements, vitamins or any other over-the-counter medications, as these could influence how well Basiliximab works - and may additionally cause adverse negative reactions when used in conjunction with each other.

Warnings

Organ transplant patients should notate the following precautions before using Basiliximab:

Allergies

Before taking Basiliximab, inform your medical provider of any allergies you have or may be experiencing. The most common allergic reactions to this medicine involve hypersensitivity to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animal products.

Pre-Existing Medical Conditions

Using Basiliximab lowers the body's natural ability to fight off infections. As a result, it is imperative that you discuss any new medical issues you are facing. Additionally, if you have symptoms of a new infection, tell your doctor before taking Basiliximab.

Studies show that Basiliximab treatments in patients with certain pre-existing cancers may worsen the diagnosis. Taking Basiliximab could moreover increase the risk of developing lymphoproliferative related disorders.

Conception

Before taking the medicine, advise your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. To avoid complications in women of childbearing age, a contraceptive must be in effect while taking Basiliximab. Health care providers generally recommend continuing contraceptive therapies for at least eight (8) weeks following treatment.

Oral Health

Patients should follow up with a dental provider for regular checkups and cleanings after taking Basiliximab.

Storage

As a prescription-only hospital-grade medicine, Basiliximab is generally stored in sterile and transparent glass vials in cool temperatures of 36-46°F (2-8°C). Open vials can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours, and other exceptions apply.

Medical workers who are apprehensive about the best way to store Basiliximab should consult a supervisory figure to protect the integrity of the medicine.

Summary

Basiliximab inhibits the body's natural immune-fighting responses to a new kidney or organ transplant. The drug is given intravenously by qualified medical workers, and it is classified as an immunosuppressant.

Basiliximab works by inhibiting the natural release and activation of white blood cells to fight off foreign infections. It is used in conjunction with other medicines to cultivate a successful transplant in both children and adult patients.

The most common concern when doctors prescribe Basiliximab is the patient's risk of developing opportunistic infections - as normal immunity functions are compromised. As a result, patients are generally monitored closely around the clock before and after surgery.

Discharged patients completing ongoing short-term Basiliximab treatments are given specific instructions for use and scheduled follow-ups to monitor progress and response to the drug.

Prior to prescribing the medicine, healthcare providers refer to a credible drug interaction checker as some medications have serious adverse effects when used in conjunction with Basiliximab. In these cases, alternative treatments are required.

Basiliximab is ultimately proven to be an effective immunosuppressive agent applicable for organ transplant cases, and in particular, kidney transplants.

Resources
Last Reviewed:
December 23, 2017
Last Updated:
April 27, 2018
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