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Thalidomide

Thalidomide  Uses

This medication is used to treat or prevent certain skin conditions related to Hansen's disease, once known as leprosy (erythema nodosum leprosum). Thalidomide is also used to treat a certain type of cancer (multiple myeloma). It works in Hansen's disease by reducing swelling and redness (inflammation). It also reduces the formation of blood vessels that feed tumors.

How to use Thalidomide Capsule

Read the Medication Guide provided by your pharmacist before you start using thalidomide and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Take this medication by mouth, usually once daily at bedtime at least 1 hour after the evening meal or as directed by your doctor. Swallow this medication whole with water.

Dosage is based on your medical condition and response to treatment. Do not increase your dose or take this medication more often than prescribed. Your condition will not improve any faster, and the risk of serious side effects may be increased.

Keep the capsules in their blister pack until ready to use. Do not open or break the capsules, or handle them any more than needed. If any of the powder from the capsule gets on your skin, wash the area with soap and water.

Since this drug can be absorbed through the skin and lungs and may harm an unborn baby, women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant should not handle this medication or breathe the dust from broken capsules. All people should wash their hands thoroughly after handling this drug.

This medication passes into body fluids (e.g., urine). Avoid contact with body fluids from people taking this drug. Therefore, wear protective clothing (e.g., gloves) when handling these body fluids (e.g., during cleanup). If contact occurs, wash skin with soap and water.

Use this medication regularly to get the most benefit from it. To help you remember, take it at the same time each day. If you are taking this medication for Hansen's disease, your skin condition may become worse when the drug is suddenly stopped. Your dose may need to be gradually decreased.

Tell your doctor if your condition does not improve or if it worsens after 2 weeks.

Thalidomide  Side Effects

See also Warning section.

Drowsiness, dizziness, lightheadedness, constipation, weakness, and dry skin may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly.

To reduce the risk of dizziness and lightheadedness, get up slowly when rising from a sitting or lying position.

Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.

Thalidomide may cause possibly severe nerve damage, which may be permanent. This may occur during treatment or after treatment has stopped. Tell your doctor right away if you develop any of the following symptoms: numbness/tingling/pain/burning in the feet or hands, muscle weakness/cramps, feeling of tightness in the feet.

Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: mental/mood changes (e.g., confusion, anxiety), shaking (tremor), shortness of breath, arm/leg swelling, fast/slow heartbeat, easy bruising/bleeding, black/bloody stools, vomit that contains blood or looks like coffee grounds.

People with multiple myeloma who are treated with this medication may rarely get other cancers (such as acute leukemia). Consult your doctor for more details.

Get medical help right away if you have any very serious side effects, including: seizures.

A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: fever, swollen lymph nodes, rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.

This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.

Thalidomide  Precautions

Before taking thalidomide, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.

Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: certain blood disorders (low platelet/white blood cell count), numbness/tingling of arms/legs, seizures.

Caution is advised when using this drug in people with HIV because they may be more sensitive to the effects of the drug. While thalidomide is used to treat muscle wasting and other HIV-related conditions, the drug might affect the amount of HIV in your system (viral load). Therefore, the manufacturer recommends having HIV tests from time to time.

This drug may make you dizzy or drowsy. Alcohol or marijuana (cannabis) can make you more dizzy or drowsy. Do not drive, use machinery, or do anything that needs alertness until you can do it safely. Avoid alcoholic beverages. Talk to your doctor if you are using marijuana (cannabis).

Since this drug can be absorbed through the skin and lungs and may harm an unborn baby, women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant should not handle this medication or breathe the dust from broken capsules.

Thalidomide must not be used during pregnancy due to the risk of severe birth defects and other serious, sometimes fatal harm to an unborn baby. If you are female and become pregnant or think you may be pregnant, if your period is late or you have unusual menstrual bleeding, or if you stop using 2 forms of birth control, stop taking thalidomide and tell your doctor right away. If you are male and have had unprotected sex with a woman who can become pregnant, or if you think your sexual partner may be pregnant, tell both of your doctors right away. (See also Warning section.)

It is not known whether this drug passes into breast milk. Because of the possible risk to the infant, breast-feeding while using this drug is not recommended. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.

Thalidomide  Interactions

Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor's approval.

Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you also take drugs that cause drowsiness such as: alcohol, marijuana (cannabis), certain antihistamines (e.g., diphenhydramine), medicine for sleep or anxiety (e.g., alprazolam, diazepam, zolpidem), muscle relaxants, opioid pain relievers (e.g., codeine), psychiatric medicines (e.g., chlorpromazine, risperidone, amitriptyline, trazodone).

Check the labels on all your medicines (e.g., cough-and-cold products) because they may contain ingredients that cause drowsiness. Ask your pharmacist about using those products safely.

It is very important for women to use 2 forms of effective birth control while taking this medication. Some drugs may cause hormonal birth control (such as pills, patch, ring) to work less well by decreasing the amount of birth control hormones in your body. This effect can result in pregnancy. Examples include griseofulvin, modafinil, rifamycins (such as rifampin, rifabutin), St. John's wort, drugs used to treat seizures (such as barbiturates, carbamazepine, felbamate, phenytoin, primidone, topiramate), HIV drugs (such as nelfinavir, nevirapine, ritonavir), among others.

Tell your doctor when you start any new drug, and discuss if you should use additional reliable birth control while using the new drug and for 1 month after stopping the drug.

Note:  We strongly encourage you to talk with your health care professional about your specific medical condition and treatments. The information contained in this website is meant to be helpful and educational, but is not a substitute for medical advice.

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