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Some commonly used brand names are:

In the U.S.—

† Not commercially available in Canada; however it is available by emergency drug release from the Health Protection Branch.

Not commercially available in Canada.

Category

  • Antihypercalcemic

Description

Gallium nitrate (GAL-ee-um NYE-trate) is used to treat hypercalcemia (too much calcium in the blood) that may occur with some types of cancer.

This medicine is available only with your doctor's prescription in the following dosage form:

  • Parenteral
  • Injection (U.S.)

Before Receiving This Medicine

In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For gallium nitrate the following should be considered:

Allergies—Tell your health care professional if you are allergic to any other substances, such as foods, preservatives, or dyes.

Pregnancy—Studies on effects in pregnancy have not been done in either humans or animals.

Breast-feeding—It is not known whether gallium nitrate passes into breast milk. However, this medicine is not recommended for use during breast-feeding, because it may cause unwanted effects in nursing babies.

Children—Studies on this medicine have been done only in adult patients, and there is no specific information comparing use of gallium nitrate in children with use in other age groups.

Older adults—Many medicines have not been studied specifically in older people. Therefore, it may not be known whether they work exactly the same way they do in younger adults. Although there is no specific information comparing use of gallium nitrate in the elderly with use in other age groups, this medicine is not expected to cause different side effects or problems in older people than it does in younger adults.

Other medicines—Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking gallium nitrate, it is especially important that your health care professional know if you are taking any of the following:

  • Anti-infectives by mouth or by injection (medicine for infection) or
  • Cisplatin (e.g., Platinol) or
  • Combination pain medicine containing acetaminophen and aspirin (e.g., Excedrin) or other salicylates (with large amounts taken regularly) or
  • Cyclosporine (e.g., Sandimmune) or
  • Deferoxamine (e.g., Desferal) (with long-term use) or
  • Gold salts (medicine for arthritis) or
  • Lithium (e.g., Lithane) or
  • Methotrexate (e.g., Mexate) or
  • Penicillamine (e.g., Cuprimine)—Use with gallium nitrate may cause or worsen kidney problems

Other medical problems—The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of gallium nitrate. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:

  • Kidney disease—Gallium nitrate may make this condition worse

Proper Use of This Medicine

Make certain your health care professional knows if your diet includes large amounts of calcium-containing foods and/or vitamin D, such as milk or other dairy products. Also let your health care professional know if you are on any special diet, such as a low-sodium or a low-sugar diet.

Dosing—The dose of gallium nitrate will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders .

  • For injection dosage form:
    • For treatment of too much calcium in the blood:
      • Adults and teenagers—The dose is based on body size and must be determined by your doctor. Gallium nitrate is injected slowly into a vein over 24 hours, for five days. The dose may be repeated in two to four weeks.
      • Children up to 12 years of age—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.

Storage—To store this medicine:

  • Keep out of the reach of children.
  • Store away from heat and direct light.
  • Do not store in the bathroom, near the kitchen sink, or in other damp places. Heat or moisture may cause the medicine to break down.
  • Keep the medicine from freezing. Do not refrigerate.
  • Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed. Be sure that any discarded medicine is out of the reach of children.

Precautions While Receiving This Medicine

It is important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits while you are receiving this medicine. If your condition has improved and you are no longer receiving gallium nitrate, your progress must still be checked. The results of laboratory tests or the occurrence of certain symptoms will tell your doctor if your condition is coming back.

Side Effects of This Medicine

Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

More common

Blood in urine; bone pain; greatly increased or decreased frequency of urination or amount of urine; increased thirst; loss of appetite; muscle weakness; nausea or vomiting

Less common

Abdominal cramps; confusion; muscle spasms

Rare

Unusual tiredness or weakness

Other side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. However, check with your doctor if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome:

More common

Diarrhea; metallic taste

Other side effects not listed above may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your doctor.

Revised: 08/05/1997

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