Cladribine (Injection)

Cladribine comes as a solution that's given as an injection via an IV and is administered only by a qualified healthcare specialist.

Overview

Cladribine (Leustatin) only comes as a generic medication and is used for treating hairy cell leukemia, a form of blood cancer. This active kind of leukemia is characterized by a considerable lack of platelets and healthy white and red blood cells in the blood. Hairy cell leukemia also causes various symptoms, including infection, weakness, tiredness, bleeding, or bruising more easily than usual, as well as an enlarged spleen.

Cladribine works against the usual behaviour of cancer cells. In other words, it prevents them from growing or forming properly, eventually destroying them. Leustatin is available as a solution that's injected through an infusion into a vein. It is only administered by a healthcare professional in a clinic or hospital. You'll not be able to self-administer Cladribine at home.

Cladribine only comes as a generic medicine. Before you use Leustatin, be sure to inform your healthcare provider if you have certain medical problems that may affect its use. Make sure to report any of these medical problems:

  • style="font-weight: 400;">Gout or history of gout
  • Kidney stones or history of kidney stones'Cladribine may increase uric acid levels in the body, potentially causing kidney stones or gout
  • Chickenpox (including recent experience)
  • Infection'Cladribine may reduce the body's ability to battle infections

The most common Cladribine side effects can include infections, tiredness, fever, and low levels of white blood cells. They can also include reactions at the injection site.

In some cases, Leustatin may trigger some serious effects, which include a deadly reduction in your levels of white blood cells. This increases your chances of catching infections. Other Leustatin side effects include nerve damage, kidney damage, and high fever.

Conditions treated

Type of medicine

  • Antimetabolite

Side effects

Many drugs can bring on side effects. The side effects may be very serious or less serious, long-lasting or temporary.

The following Leustatin side effects aren't felt by everybody who uses this drug. If you're worried about the side effects, please discuss Leustatin's risks and benefits with your doctor.

At least 1% of people using Cladribine have reported the following side effects. Many of the effects can be controlled, and some might disappear on their own eventually.

Contact your healthcare professional if you have these effects and they're troublesome or severe. Your pharmacist can advise you on how to manage them.

Although the majority of the effects mentioned below happen less often, they might result in serious issues if you don't get medical attention. See your healthcare professional promptly if you feel any of these effects:

Less common:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Skin rash
  • Unusually fast heartbeat
  • Stomach pain
  • Sweating, pale skin
  • Swelling of lower legs or feet
  • Kidney stones symptoms (such as side or lower back pain, difficult or painful urination)
  • Gout symptoms (such as joint pain, warmth and swelling of joints)
  • Bleeding symptoms (such as blood in urine, bloody nose, cuts that bleed incessantly, coughing blood)
  • Redness, pain, or swelling at injection site
  • Tingling/numbness in feet or hands

Contact your doctor promptly if you have any of these effects:

More common:

  • Chills or fever
  • Shortness of breath
  • Flu-like symptoms (such as fever or chills, cough, sore throat, hoarseness)
  • Difficulty with moving legs or arms
  • Bleeding signs in the stomach (such as blood, tarry, or black stools, vomiting blood or something that resembles coffee grounds, spitting of blood)
  • Signs of infection (such as fever or chills, shortness of breath, severe diarrhea, headache, prolonged dizziness, listlessness, weight loss, or stiff neck)
  • Signs of severe skin reaction (like peeling, blistering, a rash that covers a large part of the body, a rash that quickly spreads, or a rash that comes with discomfort or fever)
  • Signs of reaction at the site of injection (such as pain at injection area, warmth, or redness at injection area, or red streaks along the vein where the drug was injected)

Some people may have different side effects to those listed above. See your healthcare professional immediately if you have any symptom that concerns you while you're using Cladribine.

Dosage

The recommended Cladribine dose varies according to your body weight. The drug is normally given at 0.09 milligrams per kilogram of body weight a day.

Many things may affect the dose and schedule of Leustatin you need, such as other medications, other medical conditions and body weight. If your healthcare professional has recommended a dose different to the ones mentioned here, don't alter how you're using the medicine without first talking to your doctor. This medication requires very careful handling. It's always given in a clinic or hospital with sterile tools for preparation.

Leustatin is administered as an intravenous injection (into the vein). The medicine is normally injected via a specially prepared skin area and is administered for a week by a nonstop infusion. Your doctor can ask you to take extra fluids while using Cladribine to help you urinate more and save your kidneys.

It's important that this medicine is administered exactly as ordered by your healthcare provider. If you miss one appointment to get Cladribine, get in touch with your doctor immediately to rearrange your appointment.

In addition to interfering with the DNA of cancerous cells, Leustatin can affect some of your regular cells. This can cause several side effects including strange tiredness. Monitor any side effects and let your doctor know about them. Leustatin has some risks if it's not taken as prescribed.

You'll receive Cladribine as one nonstop infusion. You'll not be able to discontinue the medication unless you get serious side effects from it. In that case, your physician will discontinue your infusion.

If you don't use Cladribine at all, your medical condition (leukemia) might not get treated. Your cancer could get worse.

Cladribine is administered under the watch of a doctor that's experienced with chemotherapy. It's unlikely that you'll receive too much of Cladribine. Your doctor will closely watch you for reactions and side effects.

To tell if Leustatin is working, your cancer will go away. Your doctor will carry out tests to determine if it has gone into remission. Leustatin is taken for short-term treatment.

Interactions

Cladribine might interact with any of these drugs:

  • Tacrolimus
  • Flucytosine
  • Azathioprine
  • Echinacea
  • Amphoteracin
  • Interferon
  • Ganciclovir
  • Primecrolimus
  • Zidovudine
  • Plicamycin
  • Vaccines

Other cancer drugs

If you're using any of the above medications, tell your doctor and pharmacist. Based on your specific situation, your doctor can ask you to:

  • Change your way of using one or both medications
  • Switch from one of the medicines to another
  • Stop using one of the medicines
  • Leave everything as it is

Other medications not listed above can interact with Cladribine. Tell your prescriber or physician about all sorts of medications you're taking. Also, report any supplements you're taking. Since cigarettes, street drugs, caffeine, alcohol and decongestants can interact with many medications and affect their action, let your healthcare professional know if you take them.

Warnings

Before you begin taking any medication, make sure to report to your doctor any allergies or medical problems you have, any medicines you're using, whether you're expecting or nursing a baby and any other vital details about your health. The factors below may affect how you use Cladribine.

Pregnancy - You shouldn't use Cladribine if you're pregnant. Birth defects may occur if either the woman or man is using the medication during conception or pregnancy. You should practice effective birth control while using Cladribine and for about six months after your last dose. Contact your physician promptly if you get pregnant while using Cladribine.

Breastfeeding - It's unclear if Cladribine comes into contact with human milk. If you're taking this drug and are breastfeeding, it could affect your little one. Discuss whether you should keep breastfeeding with your doctor.

Children - The safety and usefulness of taking Leustatin in children haven't been clearly determined. It should be prescribed and given only by healthcare specialists who are familiar with cancer chemotherapy treatment in children.

Nerve damage - High Leustatin doses, and Leustatin used with other cancer treatments have been linked to nerve damage affecting the legs and arms. In some cases, limbs become permanently paralyzed. If you have difficulties with moving your legs or arms or tingling and numbness in the limbs, report it to your doctor immediately.

Red blood cells - Leustatin can reduce your red blood cells. If you have symptoms of anemia (reduced red blood cell levels), such as pale skin, feeling unusually tired or shortness of breath, inform your doctor promptly.

Kidney function - Leustatin may impair your kidney function. If you've got kidney disease or impaired kidney function, discuss with your healthcare specialist how Leustatin may affect your condition, how your condition can affect the dose and efficacy of Leustatin and whether you require any special monitoring.

Liver function - If you've got liver disease or impaired liver function, talk to your doctor about how Cladribine can affect your medical problem, how your medical problem can affect the dose and effectiveness of Cladribine, and whether you need any special monitoring.

Infection - In addition to destroying cancer cells, Cladribine can reduce your white blood cells (the cells that help fight infection in your body). If possible, stay away from people with communicable infections. Immediately tell your doctor if you notice these signs of infection: fever or chills, shortness of breath, prolonged dizziness, severe diarrhea, stiffness, headache, listlessness or weight loss. Your doctor will conduct blood tests on a regular basis to monitor your number of specific blood cells.

Blood clotting - Cladribine can reduce your number of blood platelet cells. Platelets help with blood clotting, a shortage might make one bleed more easily. If you have any signs of your blood not clotting quickly, tell your doctor. Such symptoms can include tarry, black stools, bloody urine, cuts that don't stop bleeding or easy bruising.

Gout - Cladribine can raise uric acid levels in your blood, making you likely to have gout. If you have stiffness or swelling in a joint or experience sudden pain, seek medical assistance as soon as you can.

Storage

Since Cladribine is only given in a clinic or hospital by a healthcare specialist, you won't store it at home.

Summary

Cladribine (Leustatin) must be given under the watch of a doctor in a clinic or hospital. The doctor must have experience in administering chemotherapy drugs for cancer.

Before you commence treatment with Leustatin, you and your healthcare specialist should discuss the benefits as well as risks of taking it.

You should have regular check-ups while you're using Cladribine to find out the side effects and determine your response to treatment. Your doctor will also order regular blood work to track your total blood count and the function of your other organs (like the liver and kidneys).

Your doctor may recommend Cladribine for other medical problems not listed in this guide. In addition, some varieties of Cladribine might not be taken for all the medical conditions covered here. If you haven't talked about this with your physician or don't know why you're using Cladribine, talk to your doctor. You shouldn't stop using Cladribine without your doctor's permission.

Don't give Leustatin to anybody else, even if they're showing symptoms like yours. It may be risky for anybody to use Leustatin if their healthcare provider hasn't prescribed it.

Leustatin may cause vomiting as well as mild nausea. However, it's vitally important that you keep receiving the medication even if you start to feel unwell. Please ask your healthcare specialist how you can alleviate some of the effects.

Don't take Cladribine if you're allergic to it or any of its ingredients. For more information, please consult your doctor and pharmacist.