1 What is Oncaspar?

Brand: Oncaspar

Generic: Pegaspargase

Oncaspar is an antineoplastic drug used in combination with other cancer drugs as a first-line treatment for acute lymphoblastic leukemia. This drug is also used for the treatment of ALL in patients who have had serious allergic reactions to L-asparaginase.

This drug interferes with the growth of cancer cells by depleting plasma asparagine. The growth of normal body cells also may be affected by this drug. Some of these effects may be serious and must be reported to your doctor.

 Discuss with your healthcare professional about the risks and benefits of this drug before beginning treatment with it. This drug is to be administered only by or under the immediate supervision of your healthcare professional. This drug requires a prescription.

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2 What to Know Before Using

Before using Oncaspar, you must know all about the risks and complications associated with it. Inform your healthcare provider for any allergic reactions to these drugs or any other drugs, foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals.

Carefully read the label of non-prescription drugs for any possible allergic reaction or contraindications. The safety and efficacy in infants up to 1 year of age have not been established.

Studies in children 1 year of age and older have not reported any different side effects or problems than it does in adults. The side effects of this drug in children seem to be less severe than in adults.

Data comparing the use of pegaspargase in the elderly with use in other age groups are still unavailable while safety and efficacy of pegaspargase in the elderly have not been established.

Adverse effects have been reported in animal studies but studies in pregnant women or animals are still inadequate. Infant risk is still undetermined when using this drug during breastfeeding.

Discuss with your healthcare professional about the potential risks and benefits of taking this drug while breastfeeding.

Drugs should not be taken together to prevent any interactions but in necessary cases inquire your healthcare provider regarding the adjustments in dosage or any other necessary precautions to prevent any unwanted side effects.

Inform your healthcare professional if you are taking any other drugs such as:

Intake of specific food or using alcohol or tobacco with this drug is associated with an increased risk of certain side effects. Your healthcare professional can give you special instructions about the use of food, alcohol, or tobacco.

Inform your healthcare professional if you have any other medical problems such as anticoagulant therapy, bleeding problems, chickenpox, herpes zoster, type 2 diabetes mellitus, infection, liver disease, or pancreatitis.

3 Proper Usage

To use Oncaspar properly, you must follow all instructions given by your doctor. This drug may be given in combination with other drugs.  It is important that you receive each drug at the proper time if you are using a combination of drugs.

You will be advised to increase your fluid intake in order to increase your urine output as this will help prevent kidney problems and keep your kidneys working well.

Nausea and vomiting can be commonly caused by this drug. You will be advised to continue to receive this drug, even if you begin to feel ill. Ask your health care professional for ways to lessen these effects, especially if they are severe.

The dose of this drug will be variable for different patients. The directions on the label or the prescription by your healthcare professional should be followed. The dosage of this drug you take depends on the medical problem for which you are using this drug.

4 Precautions to Take

Before using Oncaspar, there are some precautions you must take. Regular visits should be made to your healthcare professional to track your progress and to monitor the effectiveness of the drug.

It is recommended to not have any immunizations during and after treatment with this drug without your healthcare professional's approval. Your body's resistance may be lowered by this drug and there is a risk that you might acquire the infection the immunization is meant to prevent.

Other persons living in your household are not recommended to take oral poliovirus vaccine, to prevent any chance of passing the poliovirus on to you.

Persons who have recently taken oral poliovirus vaccine should be avoided. Consider wearing a protective face mask that covers the nose and the mouth if exposure cannot be avoided.

This drug can cause leukopenia and thrombocytopenia which can increase the risk of infection or bleeding.

Check with your healthcare professional immediately if you think you are:

  • getting an infection or if you get a fever or chills
  • a cough or hoarseness
  • lower back or side pain
  • have painful difficult urination
  • any unusual bleeding or bruising
  • black tarry stools
  • blood in urine or stools
  • pinpoint red spots on your skin

Be careful when using a regular toothbrush, dental floss, or toothpick. Your medical health care professional, dentist, or nurse may recommend other ways to clean your teeth and gums.

Check with your healthcare professional before having any dental work done. Touch your eyes or the inside of your nose is not recommended unless you have just washed your hands and have not touched anything else in the meantime.

Be careful in handling sharp objects such as safety razor or fingernail or toenail cutters to avoid any unnecessary wounds or cuts. Contact sports or other situations where bruising or injury can occur should be avoided.

Tissue damage and scarring may occur if this drug accidentally seeps out of the vein into which it is injected. Inform the health care professional or nurse immediately if you notice redness, pain, or swelling at the place of injection.

Seek immediate medical attention if you start having symptoms of serious allergic reaction such as trouble breathing, chest tightness, skin rash, or itching while you are receiving this drug.

Check with your healthcare professional if you experience symptoms of pancreatitis such as sudden and severe stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, or chills while on this drug.

Check with your healthcare professional immediately if you start having signs of a problem in your blood glucose such as increased thirst or hunger, increased urination, pale skin, nausea, sweating, or faintness.

This drug may increase your risk of developing serious blood clots. Check with your healthcare professional immediately if you develop any a sudden and severe headache, arm or leg swelling, shortness of breath, or chest pain.

5 Potential Side Effects

As with many medications, there are several potential side effects associated with Oncaspar. Side effects may vary for each individual and prompt medical attention should be given if they occur.

Seek advice from your healthcare professional immediately if you experience any unusual symptoms such as:

  • Abdominal or stomach pain
  • Blurry vision
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth and skin
  • Faintness
  • Fatigue
  • Fruit-like breath odor
  • Increased hunger or thirst
  • Increased need to urinate
  • Nausea
  • Skin paleness, skin rash
  • Sweating
  • Troubled breathing
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Vomiting
  • Bloating
  • Chest pain
  • Confusion
  • Cough
  • Darkened urine
  • Difficulty in breathing or swallowing
  • Dizziness
  • Fast heartbeat
  • Fever or chills
  • Headache
  • Hives or itching
  • Indigestion
  • Itching, especially of hands and feet
  • Loss of appetite
  • Numbness
  • Tingling, or swelling in arms or legs
  • Pains in stomach, side, or abdomen, possibly radiating to the back
  • Puffiness or swelling of the eyelids or around the eyes, face, lips or tongue
  • Reddening of the skin, especially around ears
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling of eyes, face, or inside of nose
  • Tightness in chest
  • Unusual tiredness or weakness
  • Wheezing
  • Yellow eyes or skin
  • Black, tarry stools
  • Blood in urine
  • Hoarseness
  • Lower back or side pain
  • Painful or difficult urination
  • or pinpoint red spots on the skin.

Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. As your body adjusts to the medicine, the side effects will slowly disappear. Ask your healthcare professional about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects.

If any of the following side effects persists or are inconvenient, or if you notice any other effects, or if you have any questions about them, consult with your health care professional. Report any side effects to the FDA hotline at 1-800-FDA-1088.

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