Arzerra (ofatumumab) is an FDA-approved medication used for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) in adults. It contains an active drug called ofatumumab which belongs to the class of chemotherapeutic drugs called monoclonal antibodies.
Arzerra has a boxed warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as it can cause the reactivation of hepatitis B virus and also lead to a rare brain infection called Progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML).
Generic name: ofatumumab
Brand name: Arzerra
Uses of Arzerra
It is used:
- in combination with chlorambucil to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) which cannot be treated with fludarabine-based therapy.
- in combination with fludarabine and cyclophosphamide to treat relapsed CLL.
- as a long-term maintenance treatment for recurrent or progressive CLL that has responded to previous treatment.
- ti treat CLL that hasn’t improved after taking fludarabine and alemtuzumab
How Arzerra Is Given
Arzerra is administered as an intravenous infusion. This injection will be given to you by a healthcare provider. Other medications may be given to you to assist prevent a reaction to the infusion. It’s possible that you’ll need to start taking these medications up to 2 hours before your ofatumumab infusion.
Blood tests will be performed by your doctor to ensure that you do not have any conditions that might prevent you from using Arzerra properly.
Arzerra is normally administered over a 28-day period. It’s possible that you’ll only need to take the drug for the first 1 or 2 weeks of each cycle. With additional doses, your dosing schedule may alter. Your doctor will decide how long you should take ofatumumab. Arzerra must be administered carefully, and a single infusion can take several hours.
Any instructions for use that came with your medicine should be read and followed carefully. If you don’t understand anything, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Only prepare an injection when you’re ready to administer it. If the drug is hazy, has changed colors, or has particles in it, do not use it. For new medication, contact your pharmacist.
While taking Arzerra, you may need periodic medical tests, and the findings may cause your next dose to be postponed. If you’ve ever had hepatitis B, taking Arzerra can make it active again or make it worse. You will need to have frequent liver function tests done while taking Arzerra or even after you have stopped the medication.
Only use a needle and syringe once before storing them in a puncture-resistant “sharps” container. Follow your state’s or municipality’s regulations for how to dispose of this container. Keep it out of children’s and pets’ reach.
The following side effects can be associated with taking Arzerra. They include mild and severe side effects.
Consult your doctor or pharmacist for further information on any potential adverse effects. They can provide you with advice on how to deal with any unpleasant side effects.
Mild side effects include:
- shortness of breath
- upper respiratory infection
Severe side effects include:
- low white blood cell count
- low platelet count
- allergic reaction
- hepatitis B virus (HBV) reactivation
- progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML)
- tumor lysis syndrome (TLS)
- infusion reactions
Severe side effects are uncommon, but they can happen. If you experience any major side effects, contact your doctor at once. If your symptoms are life-threatening or you believe you’re having a medical emergency, dial 911 or your local emergency number.
Arzerra can reactivate hepatitis B virus or worsen the disease, which can lead to liver failure or death. Your liver function will be monitored via blood tests on a regular basis.
Arzerra has the potential to produce a severe viral infection of the brain, which might result in impairment or death. If you have any changes in your mental state, decreased vision, or difficulty with speech or movement, call your doctor right away.
Your blood cell count, kidney function, and liver function may need to be evaluated for several months after you stop taking Arzerra to make sure it isn’t producing any side effects. Do not skip any of your doctor’s follow-up appointments.
Let your doctor know if you have any chronic medical conditions like hepatitis or COPD before the commencement of your medications.