Cladribine, the prescription drug Leustatin®, is a drug used to treat cancer, specifically hairy cell leukemia or leukemic reticuloendotheliosis. Cladribine is a type of purine analog drug that treats leukemic reticuloendotheliosis by reducing or even eliminating the growth of hairy leukemia cells within the body. This drug is typically administered via intravenous (IV) injection, and should normally be given by a professional in a health care setting. Cladribine may be administered differently to different patients, depending on what other drugs they may be using, the type of cancer from which they are suffering, and how their individual bodies respond to chemotherapy treatment. Cladribine, like other drugs, can have some side effects, and should be administered only when proper precautions are taken.
Side effects of the prescription drug cladribine may include insomnia, muscle and joint pain, and abdominal pain. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or constipation may occur. Lowered appetite is a common side effect of this drug. Severe side effects include fatigue and blisters in the mouth. Patients experiencing these side effects for more than a few hours are generally advised to speak to a physician.
Pregnant women or women who plan to become pregnant are typically asked not to take cladribine. Patients with a history of muscle or nerve conditions, kidney or liver disease, and bone marrow or blood disorders may not be able to take cladribine. Those who are currently suffering from an infection, or who suffer from recurrent infections, may not be able to use cladribine.
Cladribine can cause neurological or kidney damage. It can also hamper the bone marrow's ability to produce blood cells. Patients who experience confusion, a loss of motor control, or pins and needles sensations in the feet or hands may be suffering from these complications. Other signs of unwanted complications may include inflammation and pain at the site of injection, unusual or excessive bleeding or bruising, fever, chills, and other signs of infection. Difficulty swallowing or breathing may occur in patients who have an allergic reaction to the drug.
Patients taking cladribine should speak with the administering physician about any other drugs they are taking, including over-the-counter medications, before taking cladribine, because it can react with other drugs. Cladribine can affect a patient's immune response, so those taking cladribine are generally advised not to receive any vaccinations while on the drug.