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All about: Elspar

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Generic Name: asparaginase (a SPARE a ji nase)
Brand Names: Elspar

What is Elspar (asparaginase)?

Asparaginase is a cancer medication that interferes with the growth of cancer cells and slows their growth and spread in the body.

Asparaginase is used to treat acute lymphocytic lymphoma.

Asparaginase may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.

What is the most important information I should know about Elspar (asparaginase)?

Do not receive this medication if you are allergic to asparaginase or pegaspargase (Oncaspar), or if you have a history of liver disease or pancreas problems. Tell your doctor about all other cancer medications you are receiving. Get emergency medical help if you think you have received too much of this medicine, or if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. Even if you have received asparaginase without reaction in the past, you may have an allergic reaction to the medication when you receive it again.

Call your doctor at once if you have any of the following side effects during your treatment with asparaginase:

  • severe pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back, nausea and vomiting, fast heart rate;

  • easy bruising or bleeding, unusual weakness;

  • fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms;

  • sudden headache, confusion, problems with vision, speech, or balance;

  • agitation, hallucinations, seizure (convulsions); or

  • urinating less than usual or not at all.

Asparaginase is highly toxic and both the powder and solution must be handled with care. Avoid inhaling vapors from the medicine, or allowing the medicine to come into contact with your skin, eyes, nose, or mouth. If the medicine gets on your skin, wash the area right away with soap and water. If the medicine gets into your eyes, rinse them for at least 15 minutes with water, saline, or other irrigating solution and seek emergency medical attention.

Avoid being near people who have colds, the flu, or other contagious illnesses. Contact your doctor at once if you develop signs of infection.

What should I discuss with my health care provider before receiving Elspar (asparaginase)?

Do not receive this medication if you are allergic to asparaginase or pegaspargase (Oncaspar), or if you have a history of pancreas problems.

Before receiving asparaginase, tell your doctor if you are allergic to any drugs, or if you have:

  • liver disease;

  • gout;

  • diabetes (asparaginase can raise blood sugar); or

  • if you are being treated with other cancer medications.

If you have any of these conditions, you may not be able to receive asparaginase, or you may need a dosage adjustment or special tests during treatment.

FDA pregnancy category C. This medication may be harmful to an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant during treatment. It is not known whether asparaginase passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. Do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

How is asparaginase given?

Asparaginase is given as an injection through an IV needle placed into a vein, or as a shot into a muscle. You will receive this injection in a clinic or hospital setting. The IV medicine must be given slowly, and it can take up to 30 minutes to complete.

Before you receive your first treatment with this medication, you may need a skin test to make sure you are not allergic to asparaginase.

Asparaginase can lower the blood cells that help your body fight infections. This can make it easier for you to bleed from an injury or get sick from being around others who are ill. To be sure your blood cells do not get too low, your blood will need to be tested on a regular basis. Do not miss any scheduled visits to your doctor.

This medication can cause you to have unusual results with certain thyroid tests. Tell any doctor who treats you that you are receiving asparaginase.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Contact your doctor if you miss an appointment for your asparaginase injection.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention if you think you have received too much of this medicine. Symptoms of an asparaginase overdose may include easy bruising or bleeding, unusual weakness, fever, chills, flu symptoms, confusion, agitation, hallucinations, urinating less than usual or not at all, and seizure (convulsions).

What should I avoid while receiving Elspar (asparaginase)?

Asparaginase is highly toxic and both the powder and solution must be handled with care. Avoid inhaling vapors from the medicine, or allowing the medicine to come into contact with your skin, eyes, nose, or mouth. If the medicine gets on your skin, wash the area right away with soap and water. If the medicine gets into your eyes, rinse them for at least 15 minutes with water, saline, or other irrigating solution and seek emergency medical attention.

Avoid being near people who have colds, the flu, or other contagious illnesses. Contact your doctor at once if you develop signs of infection.

Elspar (asparaginase) side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. Even if you have received asparaginase without reaction in the past, you may have an allergic reaction to the medication when you receive it again. Call your doctor at once if you have any of these serious side effects:
  • severe pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back, nausea and vomiting, fast heart rate;

  • easy bruising or bleeding, unusual weakness;

  • fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms;

  • sudden headache, confusion, problems with vision, speech, or balance;

  • increased thirst or urination;

  • agitation, hallucinations, seizure (convulsions);

  • tremors, muscle stiffness; or

  • urinating more or less than usual, or not at all.

Less serious side effects may be more likely to occur, such as:

  • mild skin rash or itching;

  • depression, drowsiness;

  • swelling in your hands, ankles, or feet;

  • nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, weight loss;

  • stomach cramps; or

  • headache, feeling tired or irritable.

Side effects other than those listed here may also occur. Talk to your doctor about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome.

What other drugs will affect Elspar (asparaginase)?

Before receiving asparaginse, tell your doctor if you are using any of the following drugs:

  • vincristine (Oncovin, Vincasar);

  • prednisone (Deltasone, Meticorten, Orasone, and others); or

  • methotrexate (Folex, Rheumatrex, Trexall).

If you are using any of these drugs, you may not be able to receive asparaginase, or you may need dosage adjustments or special tests during treatment.

There may be other drugs not listed that can affect asparaginase. Tell your doctor about all the prescription and over-the-counter medications you use. This includes vitamins, minerals, herbal products, and drugs prescribed by other doctors. Do not start using a new medication without telling your doctor.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your pharmacist has information about asparaginase written for health professionals that you may read.

  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.
  • Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided by Cerner Multum, Inc. ('Multum') is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum information has been compiled for use by healthcare practitioners and consumers in the United States and therefore Multum does not warrant that uses outside of the United States are appropriate, unless specifically indicated otherwise. Multum's drug information does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients or recommend therapy. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. Multum does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of information Multum provides. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.
Copyright 1996-2006 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 1.04. Revision Date: 07/13/2007 10:16:09 AM.

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