Care During Chemotherapy and Beyond
Generic Name: Eculizumab
Trade Name: Soliris®
Eculizumab is the generic name for the trade chemotherapy drug Soliris. In
some cases, health care professionals may use the trade name Soliris when referring
to the generic drug name eculizumab.
Eculizumab is a “monoclonal antibody” that binds or attaches to a protein present
in the blood.
What Eculizumab Is Used For:
Eculizumab is used for the treatment of the blood disorders:
Note: If a drug has been approved for one use, physicians may elect to use this
same drug for other problems if they believe it may be helpful.
How Exulizumab Is Given:
The amount of eculizumab that you will receive depends on many factors, including
your height and weight, your general health or other health problems, and the type
of cancer or condition you have. Your doctor will determine your exact eculizumab
dosage and schedule.
Important things to remember about the side effects of eculizumab:
Most people will not experience all of the eculizumab side effects listed.
Eculizumab side effects are often predictable in terms of their onset, duration,
Eculizumab side effects are almost always reversible and will go away after therapy
Eculizumab side effects may be quite manageable. There are many options to minimize
or prevent the side effects of eculizumab.
The following eculizumab side effects are common (occurring in greater than 30%)
for patients taking eculizumab:
These are less common side effects for patients receiving eculizumab:
This list includes common and less common side effects for those taking eculizumab.
Eculizumab side effects that are very rare -- occurring in less than about 10 percent
of patients -- are not listed here. Always inform your health care provider if you
experience any unusual symptoms.
When to contact your doctor or health care provider:
Contact your doctor or health care provider immediately, day or night, if you should
experience any of the following symptoms:
Fever of 100.4° F (38° C), chills (possible signs of infection)
Shortness of breath, wheezing, difficulty breathing, closing up of the throat, swelling
of facial features, hives (possible allergic reaction).
Change in thinking clearly and with logic.
Dark urine (tea or coca-cola colored urine).
The following symptoms require medical attention, but are not an emergency. Contact
your doctor or health care provider within 24 hours of noticing any of the following:
Signs of infection such as redness or swelling, pain on swallowing, mouth sores,
sore throat, coughing up mucous, or burning with urination.
Nausea (interferes with ability to eat and unrelieved with prescribed medication)
Vomiting (vomiting more than 4-5 times in a 24 hour period)
Diarrhea (4-6 episodes in a 24-hour period)
Unusual bleeding or bruising
Black or tarry stools, or blood in your stools or urine
Extreme fatigue (unable to carry on self-care activities)
Yellowing of the skin or eyes
Swelling of the feet or ankles. Sudden weight gain
Very bad headache
Always inform your doctor or health care provider if you experience any unusual
Very bad meningococcal infections have happened in patients who have taken this
drug. A meningococcal vaccine is recommended at least 2 weeks before
starting this drug.
- Before starting eculizumab treatment, make sure you tell your doctor about any other
medications you are taking (including prescription, over-the-counter, vitamins,
herbal remedies, etc.).
- While taking eculizumab, do not receive any kind of immunization or vaccination
without your doctor’s approval. It is recommended that you are up to date
with your vaccinations before starting treatment with eculizumab discuss this with
Inform your health care professional if you are pregnant or may be pregnant prior
to starting this treatment. Pregnancy category C (use in pregnancy only when benefit
to the mother outweighs risk to the fetus).
For both men and women: Use contraceptives and do not conceive a child (get pregnant)
while taking eculizumab. Barrier methods of contraception such as condoms are recommended.
Do not breast feed while taking eculizumab.
While taking eculizumab drink at least two to three quarts of fluid every 24 hours,
unless you are instructed otherwise.
You may be at risk of infection so try to avoid crowds or people with colds, and
report fever or any other signs of infection immediately to your health care provider.
Wash your hands often.
To help treat/prevent mouth sores while taking eculizumab, use a soft toothbrush,
and rinse three times a day with 1 teaspoon of baking soda mixed with 8 ounces of
Use an electric razor and a soft toothbrush to minimize bleeding.
Avoid contact sports or activities that could cause injury.
To reduce nausea, take anti-nausea medications as prescribed by your doctor, and
eat small, frequent meals while taking eculizumab.
Avoid sun exposure. Wear SPF 15 (or higher) sunblock and protective clothing.
In general, drinking alcoholic beverages should be kept to a minimum or avoided
completely while you are taking eculizumab. You should discuss this with your doctor.
Get plenty of rest.
Maintain good nutrition while being treated with eculizumab.
If you experience symptoms or side effects while being treated with eculizumab,
be sure to discuss them with your health care team. They can prescribe medications
and/or offer other suggestions that are effective in managing such problems.
Monitoring and Testing:
You will be checked regularly by your health care professional while you are taking
eculizumab, to monitor side effects and check your response to therapy. Periodic
blood work to monitor your complete blood count (CBC) as well as the function of
other organs (such as your kidneys and liver) will also be ordered by your doctor.
How Eculizumab Works:
Eculizumab is classified as a monoclonal antibody. Monoclonal antibodies are
a relatively new type of "targeted" cancer or biologic therapy. Antibodies are an
integral part of the body's immune system. Normally, the body creates antibodies
in response to an antigen (such as a protein in a germ) that has entered the body.
The antibodies attach to the antigen in order to mark it for destruction by the
In the laboratory, scientists analyze specific antigens on the surface of cancer
cells (target) to determine a protein to match the antigen. Then, using protein
from animals and humans, scientists work to create a special antibody that will
attach to the target antigen. An antibody will attach to a matching antigen like
a key fits a lock. This technology allows treatment to target specific cells, causing
less toxicity to healthy cells. Monoclonal antibody therapy can be done only for
cancers or diseases in which antigens (and the respective antibodies) have been
Eculizumab is a targeted therapy that targets and binds to the complement protein
C5, this in turn prevents the splitting of this protein interfering with the formation
of membrane attack complex (MAC). This interference prevents the destruction
of red blood cells (hemolysis) and therefore results in stabilization of hemoglobin
and a decrease in the need for blood transfusions in persons with paroxysmal nocturnal
Note: We strongly encourage you to talk with your health care professional about
your specific medical condition and treatments. The information contained in this
website is meant to be helpful and educational, but is not a substitute for medical
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