My Doctor and I Are Considering Campath
Campath has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration as a single medication for treating the blood disease known as B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia, also known as B-CLL. It is the first and only monoclonal antibody that has been approved for this purpose. Campath is available only by prescription from a doctor.
Campath works in an entirely different way from traditional chemotherapy, and it represents an important initial therapy in the treatment of B-CLL.
One important purpose of this Web site is to let you know some of the risks that you take if your doctor and you decide that treatment with Campath is right for you. Like many other forms of cancer treatment, Campath has been associated with some serious, sometimes fatal, side effects.
Side effects have included the following:
- Serious reductions in the number of certain types of blood cells in your body, called "cytopenias," can result in bleeding, easy bruising, occurrence of small reddish or purple blood spots on your body ("petechiae" or "purpura"), paleness, weakness, or fatigue
- Infusion reactions after receiving therapy, such as fever, chills, nausea, rash, and other reactions, which have been fatal in rare cases among previously treated patients who had relapsed
- Weakening of the immune system that has led to serious infections, including pneumonia and herpes virus infections; in rare cases, these infections were fatal
You can learn more about these side effects by clicking on the links below. The pages in this section can help answer some of the questions you have about this important treatment option. Understanding your treatment will help you get the greatest possible benefit from Campath
WARNING: CYTOPENIAS, INFUSION REACTIONS, and INFECTIONS
Cytopenias: Serious, including fatal, pancytopenia/marrow hypoplasia, autoimmune idiopathic thrombocytopenia, and autoimmune hemolytic anemia can occur in patients receiving Campath. Single doses of Campath greater than 30 mg or cumulative doses greater than 90 mg per week increase the incidence of pancytopenia.
Infusion Reactions: Campath administration can result in serious, including fatal, infusion reactions. Carefully monitor patients during infusions and withhold Campath for Grade 3 or 4 infusion reactions. Gradually escalate Campath to the recommended dose at the initiation of therapy and after interruption of therapy for 7 or more days.
Infections: Serious, including fatal, bacterial, viral, fungal, and protozoan infections can occur in patients receiving Campath. Administer prophylaxis against Pneumocystis jiroveci pneumonia (PCP) and herpes virus infections.
In clinical trials, the frequency of infusion reactions was highest in the first week of treatment. The following serious, including fatal, infusion reactions have been identified in post-marketing reports: syncope, pulmonary infiltrates, acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), respiratory arrest, cardiac arrhythmias, myocardial infarction, acute cardiac insufficiency, cardiac arrest, angioedema, and anaphylactoid shock.
Prolonged myelosuppression have been reported in patients receiving Campath. Campath treatment results in severe and prolonged lymphopenia with a concomitant increased incidence of opportunistic infections. Assess CD4+ counts after treatment until recovery to ≥ 200 cells/µL. Obtain complete blood counts (CBC) at weekly intervals during Campath therapy and more frequently if worsening anemia, neutropenia, or thrombocytopenia occurs. Withhold Campath for severe cytopenias (except lymphopenia). Discontinue for autoimmune cytopenias or recurrent/persistent severe cytopenias (except lymphopenia).
Administer only irradiated blood products to avoid transfusion associated Graft versus Host Disease (TAGVHD), unless emergent circumstances dictate immediate transfusion.
Routinely monitor patients for CMV infection during Campath treatment and for at least 2 months following completion of treatment. Withhold Campath for serious infections and during antiviral treatment for CMV infection or confirmed CMV viremia. Initiate therapeutic ganciclovir (or equivalent) for CMV infection or confirmed CMV viremia.
Do not administer live viral vaccines to patients who have recently received Campath.
The most common adverse reactions (≥ 10%) were infusion reactions, cytopenias, cytomegalovirus (CMV) and other infections, nausea, emesis, diarrhea, and insomnia.
You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
For important risk and use information, please see full Prescribing Information (PDF).