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- Psoriasis Quiz: Test Your Medical IQ
- Moderate to Severe Forms of Psoriasis Slideshow
- What is alefacept, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
- What brand names are available for alefacept?
- Is alefacept available as a generic drug?
- Do I need a prescription for alefacept?
- What are the side effects of alefacept?
- What is the dosage for alefacept?
- Is alefacept safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
- What else should I know about alefacept?
What is alefacept, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?
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.
What are the side effects of alefacept?
The most common side effects of alefacept are:
- sore throat,
- muscle aches,
- 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.
Quick GuidePsoriasis Types, Images, Treatments
What is the dosage for alefacept?
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.
Is alefacept safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?
Use of alefacept by nursing mothers has not been adequately evaluated. It is not known whether alefacept is excreted in breast milk.
What else should I know about alefacept?
What preparations of alefacept are available?
Powder for Injection: 15 mg/Vial for intramuscular use.
How should I keep alefacept stored?
Alefacept should be stored at room temperature, 15 C to 30 C (59 C to 86 F).
Alefacept (Amevive) is a drug prescribed to treat adult patients with with moderate to severe chronic plaque psoriasis. Side effects, drug interactions, warnings and precautions, dosage, and pregnancy safety information should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.
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