CANADA- Healthycanadians.gc.ca reports that Lemtrada, or alemtuzumab, presents risks to patients beyond the previously known side-effects. The government issued a warning targeted at health care providers and alerting them of the potentially fatal complications which have been linked to treatment with Lemtrada.
Lemtrada is typically only used in patients who are suffering from multiple sclerosis who have been treated with at least two other medications that failed to yield results. Patients prescribed Lemtrada are treated in eight sessions over a two-year span. In the first year, patients are administered the drug for five consecutive days, and the second year they are treated for three straight days. Doctors may add an additional sequence of treatment in the third year at their discretion.
The new studies indicate that the drug can lead to several dangerous complications, including “autoimmune hepatitis (AIH), haemophagocytic lymphohistioctosis (HLH), as well as temporarily associated serious cardiovascular reactions.” These conditions can lead to death if they are not detected early and immediately treated.
Patients who experience symptoms of liver inflammation, such as nausea, abdominal pain, vomiting, loss of appetite, fatigue, dark urine, jaundice, bleeding more easily or bruising more easily than usual, symptoms of HLH such as swollen glands, bruising, fever and skin rash, symptoms of stroke, or bleeding in the lungs should contact a medical provider immediately.
Medical practitioners are being advised to monitor patients’ bilirubin levels before treating with Lemtrada and for 48 months after, to cease treatment in patients who experience symptoms, and to perform immediate evaluations of patients who show indications of HLH. Medical providers are also being asked to report any complications experienced by patients to the manufacturer or to Health Canada.
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