Alimta treats mesothelioma and certain types of lung cancer. Take folic acid and vitamin B12 during your treatment with Alimta.
Alimta is a prescription medication used to treat mesothelioma (a form of cancer) and non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer. Alimta belongs to a group of drugs called antifolate antineoplastic agents, which help stop cancer cells from multiplying.
This medication comes in an injectable form to be given directly into a vein (IV) over 10 minutes every 3 weeks by a healthcare provider.
Common side effects include fever, diarrhea, and nausea.
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Alimta Cautionary Labels
Uses of Alimta
Alimta is a prescription medicine used to treat mesothelioma, which is a cancer of the tissue that lines your lungs, stomach, heart, and other organs. Alimta is also used to treat a certain kind of lung cancer called nonsquamous non-small cell lung cancer. This cancer occurs when malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the lung.
This medication may be prescribed for other uses. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Alimta Drug Class
Alimta is part of the drug class:
Side Effects of Alimta
Serious side effects have been reported with Alimta. See the “Drug Precautions” section.
Common side effects of Alimta include:
- low blood cell counts including low red blood cells, low white blood cells, and low platelets
- mouth, throat, or lip sores
- loss of appetite
- hair loss
This is not a complete list of Alimta side effects. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Especially, tell your doctor if you take:
- aspirin and other NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as:
- celecoxib (Celebrex)
- diclofenac (Cambia, Cataflam, Flector, Voltaren, Zipsor and others)
- etodolac (Lodine)
- ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, Nuprin)
- indomethacin (Indocin, Indocin SR)
- ketoprofen (Orudis, Actron, Oruvail)
- ketorolac (Toradol)
- meloxicam (Mobic)
- nabumetone (Relafen)
- naproxen (Naprosyn)
- naproxen sodium (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprelan)
- oxaprozin (Daypro)
- piroxicam (Feldene)
This is not a complete list of Alimta drug interactions. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Serious side effects have been reported with Alimta including the following:
- lowered blood count. The number of blood cells in your bone marrow. This may cause certain symptoms and may increase the risk that you will develop a serious or life-threatening infection or bleeding. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately: fever, chills, sore throat, ongoing cough and congestion, or other signs of infection; unusual bleeding or bruising; bloody or black, tarry stools; bloody vomit; or vomiting blood or brown material that resembles coffee grounds.
Do not take Alimta if you are allergic to any of its ingredients.
Alimta Food Interactions
Medicines can interact with certain foods. In some cases, this may be harmful and your doctor may advise you to avoid certain foods. In the case of Alimta there are no specific foods that you must exclude from your diet when receiving this medication.
Before taking Alimta, tell your doctor about all of your medical conditions. Especially tell your doctor if you:
- are allergic to Alimta or to any of its ingredients
- have kidney problems
- have blood problems
- are pregnant or are breastfeeding
Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
Alimta and Pregnancy
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.
The FDA categorizes medications based on safety for use during pregnancy. Five categories - A, B, C, D, and X, are used to classify the possible risks to an unborn baby when a medication is taken during pregnancy.
Alimta falls into category D. Alimta can cause harm to the unborn baby. Women should use effective contraceptive measures to prevent pregnancy during treatment with Alimta.
Alimta and Lactation
Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed.
It is not known whether Alimta can pass into breastmilk. Many drugs can pass into human milk, and because of the potential for serious reactions in nursing infants from Alimta, a decision should be made to stop nursing or stop the use of this drug. The importance of the drug for the mother should be taken into account.
Take Alimta exactly as prescribed.
This medication is available in an injectable form to be given directly into a vein (IV) by a healthcare professional.
Alimta is slowly infused (injected) into a vein by a healthcare professional. The injection or infusion will last about 10 minutes. You will usually receive Alimta once every 21 days (3 weeks).
It is very important to take folic acid and vitamin B12 during your treatment with Alimta to lower your chances of harmful side effects.
- You must start taking 400-1000 micrograms of folic acid every day for at least 5 days out of the 7 days before your first dose of Alimta.
- You must keep taking folic acid every day during the time you are getting treatment with Alimta and for 21 days after your last treatment.
- You can get folic acid vitamins over-the-counter. Folic acid is also found in many multivitamin pills. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for help if you are not sure how to choose a folic acid product.
- Your doctor will give you vitamin B12 injections while you are getting treatment with Alimta. You will get your first vitamin B12 injection during the week before your first dose of Alimta, and then about every 9 weeks during treatment.
Your doctor will prescribe a medicine called a “corticosteroid” to take for 3 days during your treatment with Alimta.
You will have regular blood tests before and during your treatment with Alimta. Your doctor may adjust your dose of Alimta or delay treatment based on the results of your blood tests and on your general condition.
- Combination use in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma:
- Alimta is given on Day 1 of each 21-day cycle. It will also be given with cisplatin beginning 30 minutes after Alimta is given.
- Single-Agent use in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer:
- Alimta is given on Day 1 of each 21-day cycle.
Dose Reductions or discontinuation may be needed based on toxicities from the prior cycle of therapy.
Alimta is usually administered by a healthcare provider in a medical setting making it unlikely for an overdose to occur. However, if overdose is suspected, seek emergency medical attention.