1 What is Increlex?

Brand: Increlex, Iplex

Generic: Mecasermin

Increlex is a growth hormone prescribed by doctors to treat growth failure in children with severe primary insulin-like growth factor-1 deficiency (IGFD). Insulin-like growth factor-1 is a hormone that drives growth during childhood. It stimulates growth on almost every cell in the body, from muscles, bones, cartilage, nerves and cells in organs. IGFD is a very rare condition.

In this condition, the body produces very little insulin-like growth factor-1 resulting to growth failure. Human growth is only possible as long as the epiphyseal plates, the cartilaginous layers found in long bones, remain open. Insulin-like growth factor-1 works on these areas to cause increase in height. The epiphyseal plates close during the end of adolescent period.

Therefore, Mecasermin can only be used on children with open epiphyseal plates, which can be seen in x-rays.

Mecasermin is an injectable drug for injection under the skin. It is only available with prescription, and it is usually given in doctor’s clinic.

2 What to Know Before Using

Before using Increlex, you must know all about the risks and complications associated with it.

Before you use Mecasermin, the doctor will have to consider the following:

Tell your doctor if you experienced allergies to Mecasermin or other drugs. Also include allergies to food, other medicines and animal products.

Mecasermin is highly contraindicated for patients with suspected or active cancer. Tell your doctor if you have suspected, history or known cancer before having Mecasermin treatment.

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, or planning to get pregnant, before having Mecasermin. Mecasermin is an FDA pregnancy category C drug, which means that its safety in pregnant patients and developing fetus is not yet established. If you became pregnant while on Mecasermin treatment, tell your doctor immediately.

Tell your doctor all the medicines you take, including prescription, over the counter medicines, and herbal supplements. Medicines like corticosteroids (prednisone) are known to interact with Mecasermin, so tell your doctor if you use them.

Tell your doctor if you have health conditions such as diabetes, thyroid problems, malnutrition, scoliosis and papilledema.

3 Proper Usage

To use Increlex properly, you must follow all instructions given by your doctor.

Mecasermin is given by injection, so a health care provider usually gives it to you. The doctor will determine the dose of Mecasermin based on your current body weight. Mecasermin is injected twice a day, and given every day (if well tolerated) until the epiphyseal plate closes.

The doctor will instruct you to eat a meal 30 minutes before or after injection of Mecasermin to avoid lowered blood sugar levels. If you are unable to eat, the doctor will have to skip the dose until you are able to eat.

The doctor will inject Mecasermin under the skin in the upper arm, thighs, buttocks or stomach. If you will do the injections yourself, make sure to rotate injection sites to avoid skin complications.

Always follow the doctor’s prescribed dose. Do not inject less or more. Do not increase the dose to make up for the missed dose. If you missed a dose, call your doctor.

4 Precautions to Take

Before using Increlex, there are some precautions you must take.

Because Mecasermin is given every day twice a day, you can ask your doctor if you can do injections at home. The health provider may give you instructions on administering the drug properly. Just follow the instructions provided and stick to scheduled visits to the clinic. If you have any questions, call your doctor.

Always inspect Mecasermin vial before you inject it. If the liquid is cloudy or has floating particles, or the vial has cracks or obvious damage, do not use it.

Follow important instructions like eating a meal shortly before or after injecting Mecasermin and rotating injection sites. Only inject Mecasermin deep under the skin, not in the muscle or a vein.

Keep syringes, drug vials and needles out of reach of children. Dispose vials, especially used sharps, properly by placing them inside a rigid, sealable container. Follow local regulations in disposing them.

Mecasermin may cause dizziness, so you should not drive, operate heavy machinery, or do unsafe tasks for 2 to 3 hours after injecting the drug. Note that alcohol and other medicines may worsen dizziness.

Watch out for symptoms of low blood sugar, which is a common complication after taking Mecasermin. Symptoms of low blood sugar include anxiety, profuse sweating, weakness, dizziness, drowsiness, fainting, fast heart rate, headache, chills, tremors, and hunger. If you have these symptoms, call your doctor. If you experienced frequent episodes of low blood sugar while taking Mecasermin, the doctor may have to reduce the dose of the medicine.

Stick to scheduled clinic appointments and lab tests. The doctor may request you to have blood tests and eye exams to check for early signs of side effects.

Mecasermin should not be given to infants because it contains benzyl alcohol, which is poisonous to neonates. The safety of Mecasermin to children younger than 2 years of age is not established.

If your child will have Mecasermin treatment, do careful monitoring. Children may face more risk of low blood sugar levels because of poor eating habits.

Call your doctor immediately if you experience vision changes, severe headache, nausea and vomiting. These are symptoms of increased pressure (intracranial pressure) inside the head, which is a rare side effect of Mecasermin. Elevated intracranial pressure is dangerous and can be life threatening, so the doctor may have to stop Mecasermin treatment.

Call your doctor if you experience pain in the hip or knees, or have a limp. Rarely, Mecasermin may cause slipped growth plate in the hip.

If you became pregnant while on Mecasermin treatment, call your doctor at once. Do not breastfeed while on Mecasermin treatment.

5 Potential Side Effects

As with many medications, there are several potential side effects associated with Increlex.

Mecasermin may cause the following side effects, which are serious and requires immediate medical attention:

  • Severe allergic reaction (tightness in the chest, hives, rash, difficulty breathing, swelling of the mouth, face or tongue)
  • Ear pain or discharge
  • Vision changes
  • Hearing problems
  • Hip or knee pain
  • Limp walking
  • Pain in arm or legs
  • Pain in injection site
  • Severe and persistent dizziness
  • Severe and persistent headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Snoring or sleep apnea
  • Enlargement of the tonsils

Mecasermin may cause the following side effects:

These side effects are not harmful and a cause for alarm, but if you find them bothersome, call your doctor for help.

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