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All about: Pegaspargase

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Generic Name: Pegaspargase (peg-AS-par-jase)
Brand Name: Oncaspar

Pegaspargase is used for:

Treating acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). It may be used with other medications that treat cancer.

Pegaspargase is an antineoplastic agent. It works by reducing the amount of asparagine in the body, which is needed by the leukemia cells to live. Without asparagine, the leukemia cells die.

Do NOT use Pegaspargase if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in Pegaspargase
  • you have or have had a history of inflammation of the pancreas (eg, pancreatitis)
  • you have had bleeding problems after taking Pegaspargase or similar medications
  • you have shingles or chickenpox

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

Before using Pegaspargase :

Some medical conditions may interact with Pegaspargase . Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you have liver problems, bone marrow problems, diabetes, or an infection
  • if you have a history of bleeding problems or blood clots, or you are undergoing radiation therapy

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with Pegaspargase . Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Anticoagulants (eg, warfarin), aspirin, dipyridamole, heparin, or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) because the risk of side effects such as bleeding may be increased
  • Methotrexate because effectiveness may be decreased by Pegaspargase

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if Pegaspargase may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use Pegaspargase :

Use Pegaspargase as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • Pegaspargase is usually administered as an injection at your doctor's office, hospital, or clinic.
  • Do not shake Pegaspargase .
  • If Pegaspargase contains particles or is discolored, or if the vial is cracked or damaged in any way, do not use it.
  • Do not use Pegaspargase if it has ever been frozen or if it has been stored at room temperature for more than 48 hours.
  • Wear gloves when handling Pegaspargase . Do not inhale Pegaspargase and avoid contact with skin, mucous membranes, or eyes. In case of contact, wash with large amounts of water for at least 15 minutes.
  • Throw away all unused portions. Do not save unused medicine for later use.
  • Keep this product, as well as syringes and needles, out of the reach of children and away from pets. Do not reuse needles, syringes, or other materials. Dispose of properly after use. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain local regulations for proper disposal.
  • If you miss a dose of Pegaspargase , contact your doctor immediately.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use Pegaspargase .

Important safety information:

  • Pegaspargase may cause dizziness. Do not drive, operate machinery, or do anything else that could be dangerous until you know how you react to Pegaspargase . Using Pegaspargase alone, with certain other medicines, or with alcohol may lessen your ability to drive or perform other potentially dangerous tasks.
  • Pegaspargase may reduce the number of clot-forming cells (platelets) in your blood. To prevent bleeding, avoid situations in which bruising or injury may occur. Report any unusual bleeding, bruising, blood in stools, or dark, tarry stools to your doctor.
  • Pegaspargase may lower your body's ability to fight infection. Prevent infection by avoiding contact with people with colds or other infections. Notify your doctor of any signs of infection, including fever, sore throat, rash, or chills.
  • Avoid vaccinations with live virus vaccines (eg, measles, mumps, oral polio) while you are taking Pegaspargase . Vaccinations may be less effective.
  • Before you have any medical or dental treatments, emergency care, or surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are using Pegaspargase .
  • Pegaspargase may cause high blood sugar (eg, thirst, increased urination, confusion, drowsiness, flushing, rapid breathing, fruity breath odor). Talk with your doctor about checking blood sugar levels regularly while taking Pegaspargase .
  • LAB TESTS, including blood clotting tests, blood glucose, liver function, and serum amylase, may be performed to monitor your progress or to check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: If you become pregnant while taking Pegaspargase , discuss with your doctor the benefits and risks of using Pegaspargase during pregnancy. Pegaspargase is excreted in breast milk. Do not breast-feed while taking Pegaspargase .

Possible side effects of Pegaspargase :

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Decreased appetite; diarrhea; dizziness; flushing; general body discomfort; headache; nausea; night sweats; pain; redness; tiredness; vomiting; weakness.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); chest pain; chills; convulsions; fast heartbeat; fever; joint or muscle pain; numbness or tingling of the skin or lips; mental, mood, or emotional changes; pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site; seizures; pain or tenderness in arms or legs; signs of high blood sugar (eg, thirst, increased urination, confusion, drowsiness, flushing, rapid breathing, fruity breath odor); stomach pain; stomach swelling or bloating; swelling of the hands or feet; unusual bleeding or bruising; yellowing of skin or eyes.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions or need medical advice about side effects, contact your doctor or health care provider. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 (1-800-332-1088) or at http://www.fda.gov/medwatch.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center (http://www.aapcc.org/findyour.htm), or emergency room immediately. Symptoms may include rash.

Proper storage of Pegaspargase :

Pegaspargase is usually handled and stored by a health care provider. If you are using Pegaspargase at home, store Pegaspargase as directed by your pharmacist or health care provider. Store away from heat, moisture, and light. Do not freeze. Keep Pegaspargase out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about Pegaspargase , please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Pegaspargase is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.

This information is a summary only. It does not contain all information about Pegaspargase . If you have questions about the medicine you are taking or would like more information, check with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.

Issue Date: September 5, 2007
Database Edition
Copyright © 2007 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

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