Is Neulasta® Right for Me?
If you are treated with strong chemotherapy, studies show that you may have a greater chance of developing low white blood cell White blood cell (WBC)—A white blood cell is one of the three main types of blood cells. They are produced in the bone marrow and released into the blood. White blood cells are responsible for fighting infection. There are several kinds of white blood cells, including monocytes, lymphocytes, neutrophils, eosinophils, and basophils. counts or infectionInfection—An invasion of microorganisms such as bacteria or viruses that have the ability to multiply and cause disease. if any of the following apply to you:1,2
- You are 65 years or older
- You have previously been treated with strong chemotherapyChemotherapy—The use of drugs to destroy cancer cells. A person on chemotherapy may take one drug or a combination of drugs. Most often these drugs are given by vein using intravenous (IV) infusion. Some can be taken by mouth or given as a shot. or radiation
- You have other medical conditions (such as diabetes and liver, heart, or lung diseases)
- You have advanced cancer, sometimes called late stage, or stage 4 cancer
- You previously developed low white blood cell counts while being treated with chemo
- You have preexisting neutropeniaNeutropenia—A lower-than-normal number of neutrophils (infection-fighting white blood cells) in the blood. It is a common side effect of some chemotherapy treatments. Doctors check the number of neutrophils when they measure the white blood cell count, to monitor the risk of infection.
- Your cancer has spread to your bone marrow
If any of the above applies to you, then your doctor may recommend that you take a white blood cell booster, such as Neulasta®, to help reduce the risk of infection.
Neulasta® (pegfilgrastim) is used to reduce the risk of infection (initially marked by fever) in patients with certain types of cancer who are receiving strong chemotherapy that decreases the number of infection-fighting white blood cells.
Neulasta® is for people with certain types of cancer, such as solid tumors, lymphomasLymphoma—Cancer that begins in cells of the lymphatic system (part of the immune system that produces and stores cells that fight infection and disease). and some forms of leukemia.3 Ask your doctor if Neulasta® is right for your type of cancer.
Help protect your natural defenses from the beginning of chemo
Patients can develop febrile neutropeniaFebrile neutropenia—Having a fever and a low white blood cell count (neutropenia). Febrile neutropenia is often a sign of a serious infection. , or neutropenia with fever, during any chemo cycle. Studies have found that the risk is highest with the first cycle of chemo, but it also continues in later cycles. A key clinical study of Neulasta® involved over 900 patients with breast cancer who received up to 4 cycles of strong chemo. The patients were divided into two groups. One group received Neulasta® at first, while the other did not (received placebo Placebo—Is a dummy treatment used in some clinical trials. In these studies, a group of patients who are given a placebo treatment are compared to another group of patients who are given the actual treatment. The difference in results between the actual treatment group and the placebo group are considered the result of giving the medicine. ). Among the patients who did not receive Neulasta® at first, two-thirds of those who developed neutropenia with fever, developed it during the first cycle of chemo.4 This is why it is so important to begin taking Neulasta® right from the start of chemotherapy.
Neulasta® reduced the occurrence of low white blood cell count with fever through multiple strong chemo cycles
The clinical study mentioned above compared how often neutropenia with fever occurred in 2 groups of people who received up to 4 cycles of strong chemo for breast cancer:
- One group received Neulasta® with each chemo cycle
- The other group did not receive Neulasta® at first
The group of people that received Neulasta® with each chemo cycle had 94% fewer cases of febrile neutropenia. These results show the benefits of taking Neulasta® with each and every cycle of chemo.3
Taking a white blood cell booster, such as Neulasta®, from your first course of chemo can help protect against infection
LEARN HOW NEULASTA® IS GIVEN »
Neulasta® (pegfilgrastim) is a prescription medication used to reduce the risk of infection (initially marked by fever) in patients with some tumors receiving strong chemotherapy that decreases the number of infection-fighting white blood cells.
Important Safety Information
Who should not take Neulasta® (pegfilgrastim)?
Do not take Neulasta® (pegfilgrastim) if you have had an allergic reaction to Neulasta® (pegfilgrastim) or to NEUPOGEN® (Filgrastim).
What should I tell my health care provider before taking Neulasta® (pegfilgrastim)?
If you have a sickle cell disorder, make sure your doctor knows about it before using Neulasta® (pegfilgrastim).
- Spleen Rupture. Your spleen may become enlarged and can rupture while taking Neulasta® (pegfilgrastim). A ruptured spleen can cause death. The spleen is located in the upper left section of your stomach area. Call your doctor right away if you have pain in the left upper stomach area or left shoulder tip area. This pain could mean your spleen is enlarged or ruptured.
- A serious lung problem called acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Call your doctor or seek emergency care right away if you have shortness of breath, trouble breathing, or a fast rate of breathing.
- Serious Allergic Reactions. Neulasta® (pegfilgrastim) can cause serious allergic reactions. These reactions can cause shortness of breath, wheezing, dizziness, swelling around the mouth or eyes, fast pulse, sweating, and hives. If you start to have any of these symptoms, call your doctor or seek emergency care right away. If you have an allergic reaction during the injection of Neulasta® (pegfilgrastim), stop the injection. Call your doctor right away.
- Sickle Cell Crises. You may have a serious sickle cell crisis if you have a sickle cell disorder and take Neulasta® (pegfilgrastim). Serious and sometimes fatal sickle cell crises can occur in patients with sickle cell disorders receiving Filgrastim, a medicine similar to Neulasta® (pegfilgrastim). Call your doctor right away if you have symptoms of sickle cell crisis such as pain or difficulty breathing.
What are the most common side effects of Neulasta® (pegfilgrastim)?
The most common side effect you may experience is aching in the bones and muscles. If this happens, it can usually be relieved with a nonaspirin pain reliever, such as acetaminophen.
- Occasionally pain and redness may occur at the injection site. If there is a lump, swelling, or bruising at the injection site that does not go away, talk to the doctor.
- Neulasta® (pegfilgrastim) should only be injected on the day the doctor has determined and should not be injected until approximately 24 hours after receiving chemotherapy.
- The needle cover on the single-use prefilled syringe contains dry natural rubber (latex), which should not be handled by persons sensitive to this substance.
If you have any questions about this information, be sure to discuss them with your doctor. You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.
- Lyman GH. Guidelines of the National Comprehensive Cancer Network on the use of myeloid growth factors with cancer chemotherapy: a review of the evidence. J Natl Compr Canc Netw. 2005;3:557-571.
- NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in Oncology (NCCN Guidelines™): Myeloid Growth Factors (Version 1.2011). © 2011 National
Comprehensive Cancer Network, Inc. http://www.nccn.org. Accessed May 24, 2011. To view the most recent and complete guidelines,
- Neulasta® Prescribing Information. Amgen. V13, 2011.
- Vogel CL, Wojtukiewicz, MZ, Carroll RR, et al. First and subsequent cycle use of pegfilgrastim prevents febrile neutropenia in patients
with breast cancer: a multicenter, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase III study. J Clin Oncol. 2005;23:1178-1184.