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All about: Asparaginase

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Generic Name: Asparaginase (ass-PAR-ah-jin-ase)
Brand Name: Elspar

Asparaginase should only be given by an experienced health care provider in a medical setting. Do not inhale medicine dust or vapors or allow contact with skin or mucous membranes.


Asparaginase is used for:

Treating acute lymphocytic leukemia. It is generally used in combination with other medicines to induce remission. It is not to be used to maintain remission.

Asparaginase is an antineoplastic. It works by stopping tumor cell growth by blocking the production of required proteins.

Do NOT use Asparaginase if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in Asparaginase
  • you have shingles, chickenpox, or an inflammation of the pancreas

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

Before using Asparaginase :

Some medical conditions may interact with Asparaginase . 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 an infection or liver insufficiency, or you are receiving radiation therapy

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

  • Cytarabine because toxic effects may occur
  • Hydantoins (eg, phenytoin) or methotrexate because the effectiveness of these medicines may be decreased

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if Asparaginase 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 Asparaginase :

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

  • Drinking extra fluids while you are taking Asparaginase is recommended. Check with your doctor for instructions.
  • Asparaginase is usually administered as an injection at your doctor's office, hospital, or clinic.
  • If Asparaginase contains particles or is discolored or cloudy, or if the vial is cracked or damaged in any way, do not use it.
  • If Asparaginase accidentally spills on your skin, wash it off immediately with soap and water. If Asparaginase comes into contact with your eyes, wash eyes with water for at least 15 minutes. If inhaled, remove from exposure. Contact your doctor immediately.
  • If nausea, vomiting, or loss of appetite occur, ask your doctor or pharmacist for ways to lessen these effects.
  • 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 Asparaginase , contact your doctor immediately.

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

Important safety information:

  • Asparaginase 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.
  • Avoid vaccinations with live virus vaccines (eg, measles, mumps, oral polio) while you are taking Asparaginase . Vaccinations may be less effective.
  • Diabetes patients - Asparaginase may affect your blood sugar. Check blood sugar levels closely and ask your doctor before adjusting the dose of your diabetes medicine.
  • LAB TESTS, including blood cell counts, uric acid levels, amylase, and blood glucose, may be performed to monitor your progress or to check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
  • Use Asparaginase with caution in the ELDERLY because they may be more sensitive to its effects.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: If you become pregnant, discuss with your doctor the benefits and risks of using Asparaginase during pregnancy. It is unknown if Asparaginase is excreted in breast milk. Do not breast-feed while taking Asparaginase .

Possible side effects of Asparaginase :

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:

Agitation; chills; confusion; depression; drowsiness; fatigue; fever; headache; hives; irritability; joint pain; loss of appetite; muscle pain; nausea; rash; vomiting; weight loss.

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

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); agitation; change in the amount of urine; coma; confusion; dark urine; hallucinations; high fever; joint pain; pain, redness, or swelling at the injection site; seizures; stomach pain; tremor; unusual bruising or bleeding; unusual tiredness or weakness.

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.

Proper storage of Asparaginase :

Store Asparaginase in the refrigerator, between 36 and 46 degrees F (2 and 8 degrees C). Do not freeze. Store away from heat, moisture, and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep Asparaginase out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about Asparaginase , please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Asparaginase 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 Asparaginase . 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 07.3.1.003
Copyright © 2007 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

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