What Is Brentuximab Vedotin?

Jacquelyn Gilchrist

Brentuximab vedotin is an antibody-drug conjugate prescribed to treat certain types of cancer, including systemic anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) or Hodgkin lymphoma. This medication works by disrupting the lymphoma cells and ultimately killing them. Before undergoing this treatment, patients with ALCL must have had at least one unsuccessful chemotherapy regimen and those with Hodgkin lymphoma must have had either two unsuccessful chemotherapy rounds or one failed stem cell transplant. Patients should be aware of the possible side effects and contraindications before using brentuximab vedotin.

Brentuximab vedotin is often used in the treatment of lymphoma.
Brentuximab vedotin is often used in the treatment of lymphoma.

The typical dosage schedule for brentuximab vedotin is one dose administered by intravenous infusion in a doctor's office over the course of at least 30 minutes. It is generally given once every three weeks, with no more than 16 total doses, or fewer if the patient experiences severe, adverse side effects.

It's not clear whether brentuximab vedotin is safe for use by elderly people.
It's not clear whether brentuximab vedotin is safe for use by elderly people.

Some patients may be unable to use brentuximab vedotin safely. There are inadequate studies to determine the safety or efficacy of its use in pregnant or nursing women. Use in children or in elderly patients has also not yet been established.

Brentuximab vedotin may cause some side effects, which should be reported to the prescribing physician. Patients may experience nerve damage, fatigue, and general pain. Nausea, vomiting, and upper respiratory infection have also been reported, as well as diarrhea, a rash, and coughing. Other complications may include the development of anemia, Stevens-Johnson syndrome, and neutropenia, which is an unusually low level of white blood cells.

In addition, some people experience an adverse reaction to the intravenous infusion itself. Signs of a possible infusion reaction may include breathing problems, chills, fever, or a rash. Those who develop a reaction to the infusion should alert the physician as soon as possible so the infusion can be stopped immediately.

Before using brentuximab vedotin to treat lymphoma, patients must disclose their other medical conditions, medications, and supplements. Those who have impaired kidney function may need to be monitored closely throughout the treatment. This medicine may interact with other drugs, which may include ketoconazole and rifampin. Since brentuximab vedotin is administered by a doctor, overdose is less likely.

Brentuximab vedotin may cause fatigue in some individuals.
Brentuximab vedotin may cause fatigue in some individuals.

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