1 What is Onivyde?

Brand: Onivyde

Generic: Irinotecan Liposome

Onivyde is an anticancer medicine for treatment of certain cases of pancreatic cancer. It works by damaging DNA in cells to cause death.

Irinotecan Liposome is different from the drug Irinotecan (Irinotecan Hydrochloride), which is also used for cancer.

Irinotecan Hydrochloride has different formulation and indication, and it not interchangeable with Irinotecan Liposome.

Many cases of pancreatic cancer are diagnosed in its late stages and tend to spread rapidly. Surgery may have little benefit once tumors have spread to other parts of the body.

Irinotecan Liposome can be used for pancreatic cancer cases that cannot be treated with surgery.

Irinotecan Liposome is usually given with other medications. Irinotecan Liposome must be used along with Leucovorin and Fluorouracil for treating pancreatic cancer cases that proved resistant to Gemcitabine.

Irinotecan Liposome is known to cause serious side effects. The packaging carries special boxed warnings due to the risk of causing severe neutropenia (too low white blood cells) and diarrhea.

Irinotecan Liposome is a prescription medication. Only use Irinotecan Liposome according to doctor’s instructions.

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2 What to Know Before Using

Before using Onivyde, you must know all about the risks and complications associated with it. You can discuss these risks with your doctor before treatment.

When on Irinotecan Liposome treatment, call the doctor if you have the following symptoms of neutropenia and diarrhea:

  • Passing out loose or watery bowel movements, or at least three bowel movements in one day
  • Sudden weakness or ill feeling
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Confusion
  • Shortness of breath
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Severe dizziness or fainting

You cannot take Irinotecan Liposome if you are allergic to Irinotecan or if you have a blockage in the intestines. Tell the doctor all your health conditions before receiving Irinotecan Liposome.

Before treatment, the doctor will want to know if you have the following health problems:

  • Problems or diseases in the liver or kidneys
  • Respiratory conditions like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) or other lung problems
  • Diabetes
  • Any problem or disease in the intestines or digestive tract

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, tell it to your doctor before receiving Irinotecan Liposome. Irinotecan Liposome may cause harm or birth defects to the unborn baby when taken by pregnant patients. Many medicines are expressed in breast milk, so do not nurse when receiving Irinotecan Liposome treatment.

It is very important not to get pregnant, or make someone pregnant if you are a male when taking Irinotecan Liposome. Always use a condom during sex, and continue to do so at least 4 months after last taking Irinotecan Liposome. 

Irinotecan Hydrochloride is not proven safe and never been tested on children and small babies. You need to mention all the medicines you take before receiving Irinotecan Hydrochloride.

Irinotecan Hydrochloride is known to interact with several medications such as:

  • Acepitant
  • BCG tuberculosis vaccine
  • Bosentan
  • Clozapine
  • Conivaptan
  • Dabrafenib
  • Dasatinib
  • Deferasirox
  • Deferiprone
  • Denosumab
  • Dipyrone
  • Echinacea
  • Fingolimod
  • Fosaprepitant
  • Fusidic acid
  • Idelalisib
  • Ivacaftor
  • Leflunomide
  • Luliconazole
  • Natalizumab
  • Netupitant
  • Nivolumab
  • Osimertinib
  • Palbociclib
  • Pimecrolimus
  • Ranolazine
  • Roflumilast
  • Siltuximab
  • Simeprevir
  • Sipuleucel-T
  • Sorafenib
  • St. John’s Wort
  • Stiripentol
  • Tacrolimus
  • Teriflunomide
  • Tofacitinib
  • Trastuzumab
  • Inactivated vaccines
  • Live vaccines

3 Proper Usage

Proper usage of Onivyde requires strict adherence to your doctor’s orders. Onivyde is injected into the vein (intravenous route). It is usually given once every two weeks. Only a health professional can give you this medicine.

The dose of Irinotecan Liposome is determined by the doctor. You may be given medications like antidiarrheals, corticosteroids or antiemetics before infusion of Irinotecan Liposome to reduce the likelihood of side effects.

Irinotecan Liposome is infused into a vein. It is usually given very slowly, and the infusion must take at least 90 minutes. If you experience any burning, pain or swelling at the infusion site, call your health provider immediately.

You need to undergo several lab tests while on Irinotecan Liposome treatment. If you cannot make it to your appointment for Irinotecan Liposome infusion, call the doctor right away.

Overdosing is highly unlikely because the medication is given by health professionals. Irinotecan Liposome is a highly hazardous substance. If the medication gets on your skin, wash it immediately with soap and water.

4 Precautions to Take

Before using Onivyde, there are some precautions you must take. Maintain open communication with the doctor in case side effects occur. Call the doctor immediately if you experience diarrhea or have signs and symptoms of infection.

Make sure to keep up with appointments and lab tests while receiving Irinotecan Liposome. Irinotecan Liposome can cause changes to results of certain lab tests. Tell the lab test providers that you are using Irinotecan Liposome.

If you receive care from another doctor or from a dentist, make sure they know you are receiving Irinotecan Liposome treatment. Avoid using laxative or stool softeners while and for some time after receiving Irinotecan Liposome. Doing so can cause severe and life-threatening diarrhea.

Irinotecan Liposome can make it hard for your blood to clot. Avoid activities that increase the risk of bruising and bleeding such as contact sports. Irinotecan Liposome may reduce your immune defenses against infection.

You must stay away from individuals who are sick, have infections or large crowds. Avoid food items with potentially high bacterial counts, like fresh or raw seafood and meat, and pre-peeled and pre-sliced fruits and vegetable items in supermarkets.

Irinotecan Liposome may impair thinking and reflexes. You should not drive or operate heavy machinery shortly after receiving Irinotecan Liposome.

Irinotecan Liposome is known to pass into body fluids including urine, feces, and vomit. Since Irinotecan Liposome is a hazardous substance, exercise caution in disposing of items contaminated with body fluids.

Do not allow body fluids to come into contact with hands and surfaces at least 48 hours after receiving Irinotecan Liposome.

Caregivers should wear rubber gloves in cleaning patient’s body fluids, handling contaminated laundry or changing diapers. Make sure to wash hands after removing gloves. Handle and wash contaminated laundry, linens and clothing separately.

5 Potential Side Effects

Onivyde may cause life-threatening side effects. If you notice any side effects of Onivyde, immediately make an appointment with your doctor. If the following side effects continue, the doctor may decide to stop treating you with Onivyde.

Call the doctor and head to the hospital right away if you experience the following:

  • Severe allergic reaction such as hives, wheezing, difficulty breathing, chest tightness, swelling of the lips, mouth, face or tongue
  • Severe and ongoing diarrhea
  • Passing out dark, tarry or grossly bloody stools
  • Sudden onset of weakness or ill feeling (malaise)
  • Fever, chills and flu-like symptoms
  • Shallow breathing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Appearance of skin sores
  • Pale skin
  • Easy bruising
  • Unusual bleeding
  • Confusion
  • Severe dizziness
  • Lightheadedness or fainting
  • Swollen gums and painful sores in the mouth
  • Nausea or vomiting, especially if it prevents you from drinking fluids
  • Sudden chest pain or discomfort, wheezing, dry cough, shortness of breath
  • Symptoms of dehydration, like severe thirst, inability to urinate, heavy sweating or hot and dry skin

Irinotecan Liposome may cause the following side effects that are not harmful:

  • Temporary hair loss
  • Feeling weak or tired
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite

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