alefacept, Amevive

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GENERIC NAME: alefacept

BRAND NAME: Amevive

DRUG CLASS AND MECHANISM: Alefacept is an injectable drug that suppresses the immune system and is used for the treatment of psoriasis. Scientists believe that psoriasis is caused by an increase in the production of one type of immune cell, T-lymphocytes, in response to the attachment of a stimulant (antigen) to the lymphocyte. The stimulated T-lymphocytes cause skin cells to grow rapidly, and the rapid growth of the skin cells produces the skin plaques of psoriasis. Alefacept reduces the stimulation and production of T-lymphocytes by attaching to the site on the T-lymphocytes where the antigen attaches. This prevents the antigen from binding and activating the T-lymphocytes. Alefacept also decreases the life-span of T-lymphocytes that already have been produced by increasing the activity of another type of immune cell, natural killer cells, that kill T-lymphocytes. Alefacept was approved by the FDA in January 2003.

PRESCRIPTION: Yes

GENERIC AVAILABLE: No

PREPARATIONS: Powder for Injection: 15 mg/Vial for intramuscular use.

STORAGE: Alefacept should be stored at room temperature, 15 C to 30 C (59 C to 86 F).

PRESCRIBED FOR: Alefacept is used for the treatment of adult patients with moderate to severe chronic plaque psoriasis who require drugs that are absorbed or injected into the body or light therapy (phototherapy).

DOSING: The recommended dose is 15 mg by intramuscular injection once weekly for 12 weeks. The treatment cycle can be repeated after a twelve week interval without treatment if the patient's T-lymphocyte counts are within the normal range.

DRUG INTERACTIONS: Alefacept suppresses the immune system. It should not be used with other drugs the also suppress the immune system because this will add to the risk of developing serious infections. Safety and efficacy of receiving live or weakened (attenuated) vaccines during alefacept treatment has not been evaluated.

PREGNANCY: Use of alefacept during pregnancy has not been evaluated.

NURSING MOTHERS: Use of alefacept by nursing mothers has not been adequately evaluated. It is not known whether alefacept is excreted in breast milk.

SIDE EFFECTS: The most common side effects of alefacept are sore throat, dizziness, cough, nausea, itching, muscle aches, chills, injection site pain and injection site redness and swelling. The most serious side effects are a reduction in the number of immune cells, liver failure, serious opportunistic infections (for example, fungal infections), cancer and allergic reactions. Alefacept should not be used by individuals whose blood lymphocyte counts are less than 250/ml.

Reference: FDA Prescribing Information


Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/18/2013



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