asparaginase (Escherichia coli)

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Pronunciation: as PAR a jin ase ESH er EEK ee a KOE lye

Brand: Elspar

What is the most important information I should know about asparaginase?

You should not receive this medicine if you have ever used asparaginase and it caused severe bleeding, allergic reaction, pancreatitis, or blood clot.

Asparaginase can increase your risk of blood clot or stroke. Call your doctor at once if you have sudden numbness or weakness (especially on one side of the body), slurred speech, chest pain, pain or swelling in your leg, or if you cough up blood.

You may also develop liver or pancreas problems. Call your doctor at once if you have loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, severe pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back, dark urine, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

What is asparaginase?

Asparaginase is a cancer medication that interferes with the growth of cancer cells and slows their growth and spread in the body.

Asparaginase is used to treat acute lymphocytic lymphoma.

Asparaginase may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What should I discuss with my health care provider before receiving asparaginase?

You should not receive this medicine if you have ever used asparaginase and it caused severe bleeding, allergic reaction, pancreatitis, or blood clot.

To make sure asparaginase is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • liver disease;
  • diabetes (asparaginase can raise blood sugar);
  • a bleeding or blood-clotting disorder;
  • history of stroke; or
  • history of pancreatitis.

It is not known whether asparaginase will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while using this medication.

It is not known whether asparaginase passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while using this medicine.

How is asparaginase given?

Asparaginase is injected into a muscle, or into a vein through an IV. A healthcare provider will give you this injection.

This medicine is usually given three times per week.

While using asparaginase, you may need frequent blood tests at your doctor's office.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Call your doctor if you miss an appointment for your asparaginase injection.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while receiving asparaginase?

Asparaginase is highly toxic and both the powder and solution must be handled with care. Avoid inhaling vapors from the medicine, or allowing the medicine to come into contact with your skin, eyes, nose, or mouth. If the medicine gets on your skin, wash the area right away with soap and water. If the medicine gets into your eyes, rinse them for at least 15 minutes with water, saline, or other irrigating solution and seek emergency medical attention.

Avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Tell your doctor at once if you develop signs of infection.

This medicine can pass into body fluids (including urine, feces, vomit). For at least 48 hours after you receive a dose, avoid allowing your body fluids to come into contact with your hands or other surfaces. Patients and caregivers should wear rubber gloves while cleaning up body fluids, handling contaminated trash or laundry or changing diapers. Wash hands before and after removing gloves. Wash soiled clothing and linens separately from other laundry.

What are the possible side effects of asparaginase?

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling with or without pain in your arms and legs; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Even if you have received asparaginase without reaction in the past, you may have an allergic reaction to the medication when you receive it again.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • severe pain in your upper stomach spreading to your back, nausea and vomiting, fast heart rate;
  • easy bruising or bleeding, unusual weakness;
  • sudden numbness or weakness (especially on one side of the body), sudden severe headache, slurred speech, problems with vision or balance;
  • chest pain, sudden cough, wheezing, rapid breathing, coughing up blood;
  • pain, swelling, warmth, or redness in one or both legs;
  • severe headache, blurred vision, buzzing in your ears, confusion, change in mental status, vision loss, seizure (convulsions);
  • dark urine, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes); or
  • high blood sugar (increased thirst, increased urination, hunger, dry mouth, fruity breath odor, drowsiness, dry skin, blurred vision, weight loss).

Common side effects may include:

  • increased thirst and urination.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect asparaginase?

Other drugs may interact with asparaginase, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell each of your health care providers about all medicines you use now and any medicine you start or stop using.

Where can I get more information?

Your doctor or pharmacist can provide more information about asparaginase.

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

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