Alemtuzumab (Campath, Genzyme) is an anti-CD52 monoclonal antibody used for the treatment of B-cell CLL. The drug is to be administered over 2 hours via IV infusion. This section discusses adverse reaction, warnings and precautions associated with alemtuzumab therapy.
Common adverse reactions
Warnings and precautions
Drug interactions and other contraindications
Alemtuzumab common adverse reactions
The most common adverse reactions reported in alemtuzumab clinical trials were cytopenias, infusion reactions, infection (including cytomegalovirus [CMV] infection), nausea, emesis, diarrhea and insomnia. These reactions were reported by at least 10% of trial participants.
Alemtuzumab warnings and precautions
Alemtuzumab therapy has been associated with an increased risk for pancytopenia secondary to bone marrow hypoplasia or failure. Pancytopenia is a life-threatening state in which the bone marrow underproduces or fails to produce all three blood cell lines: white blood cells (leukopenia), red blood cells (anemia) and platelets (thrombocytopenia). Symptoms include weakness, fatigue, shortness of breath, pallor, infections and easy bruising and bleeding. Cytopenias are more likely to occur in patients receiving higher doses of alemtuzumab.
The lymphopenia associated with alemtuzumab treatment increases the risk for opportunistic infection, and patients should be treated prophylactically for pneumocystis pneumonia and herpes viral infections. Patients should also be monitored for CMV infection. Complete blood counts should be performed at least weekly during alemtuzumab therapy.
Alemtuzumab drug interactions and other contraindications
Patients receiving alemtuzumab should not be immunized with any live viral vaccines during or soon after completion of treatment.