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- What is efalizumab, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for efalizumab?
- Do I need a prescription for efalizumab?
- What are the side effects of efalizumab?
- What is the dosage for efalizumab?
- Which drugs or supplements interact with efalizumab?
- Is efalizumab safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about efalizumab?
What is efalizumab, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
Efalizumab is a synthetic (man-made) antibody that is used for the treatment of psoriasis.Psoriasis is a disease of the skin in which the cells of the skin reproduce more rapidly than normal. This increased reproduction is thought to be stimulated by activation of the immune system, in particular, the lymphocytes. In order for lymphocytes to become activated, they must adhere (attach) to other cells through receptors on their surface. Efalizumab blocks one of these receptors (called leukocyte function antigen-1 or LFA-1) on the lymphocyte. By blocking adhesion, efalizumab prevents the activation of lymphocytes that is responsible for psoriasis.
What brand names are available for efalizumab?
Do I need a prescription for efalizumab?
What are the side effects of efalizumab?
Reactions to the first dose of efalizumab include headache, fever, nausea, and vomiting and are dose-level related, that is, the higher the dose the more likely are reactions. With the currently recommended first dose (0.7 mg/kg), one in three patients will have a reaction.
Efalizumab suppresses the immune system and there have been reports ofinfections including serious infections and infections that worsen despite treatment with antibiotics. It also is possible that this immune-suppressing effect may increase the riskfor tumors. Low platelet counts may occur increasing the risk of bleeding. An immune-mediated anemia due to the destruction of red blood cells also has been reported.
Efalizumab increases the riskfor progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML), a rare, serious, progressive disease of the nervous system caused by a virus. PML usually occurs in people with severely weakened immune systems resulting in an irreversible decline in function of the nervous system and death. There is no known effective treatment for PML. Patients receiving efalizumab therapy should be monitored for symptoms that suggest PML. If PML is suspected, efalizumab should be discontinued.
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