Ofatumumab is a medication that usually is available only with a prescription. This drug is intended to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia, a type of cancer. It is typically prescribed after other treatments have failed, as there are risks of serious side effects. While taking this medication, patients will need to be regularly monitored by their physicians.
Chronic lymphocytic leukemia is a cancer that invades the bone marrow and certain white blood cells, which are called lymphocytes. Most cancer drugs destroy healthy cells in the course of treatment. Ofatumumab works by targeting and eradicating only the cancerous cells in order to protect the rest of the body. It is in a class of drugs called monoclonal antibodies.
Ofatumumab is given via injection by a health care professional. It is administered with an intravenous infusion that may take several hours to finish entering the body. Dosages are often given once weekly for eight weeks. After this, patients will typically receive injections once per month for the next four months. Before injecting the medication, the doctor may give the patient additional medications to help prevent side effects.
The physician schedules regular blood and urine tests for patients taking ofatumumab to check for possible side effects. These tests evaluate whether the drug is impairing the function of the kidneys, liver, or blood cells. Regular check-ups will continue for several months following the discontinuation of the medication.
Patients taking ofatumumab should follow a few guidelines to protect their general health. The immune system will be suppressed, so people should avoid close contact with those who are ill. Vaccinations that contain live viral matter should also be avoided.
There is a risk of serious side effects, such as a viral infection of the brain. This may cause disability, or it may be fatal. A patient should contact his doctor right away if he experiences problems with vision, movement, or speech, or if he notices changes to his mental state. Other symptoms that require immediate medical attention include jaundice, nausea, and stomach pain.
A possible infection will need to be addressed immediately. Signs of this may include fever, chills, and other flu-like symptoms. Patients may also suffer from a stabbing chest pain and a cough with mucus.
Before taking ofatumumab, patients should disclose all other drugs and supplements they may be taking. They should also tell their physicians if they have any other medical conditions. It is unknown whether ofatumumab can cause birth defects or if it passes into breast milk, so pregnant women may best avoid the drug.