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Care During Chemotherapy and Beyond

Ravulizumab

(rav-ue-LIZ-ue-mab)

Trade Name: Ultomiris®

Ravulizumab is the generic name for the trade name drug Ultomiris. In some cases, health care professionals may use the trade name Ultomiris when referring to the generic drug name ravulizumab or ravulizumab-cwvz.

Drug Type: Ravulizumab is a monoclonal antibody (for more detail, see "How Ravulizumab Works" below).

What Ravulizuman Is Used For

  • Atypical hemolytic uremic syndrome (aHUS)
  • Paroxymal nocturnal hemoglobinuria (PNH)

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 Ravulizumab Is Given

  • As an infusion into the vein (intravenous, IV)

The amount of ravulizumab that you will receive depends on many factors, including your weight, your general healt or other health problems, and the type of condition you have. Your doctor will determine your exact dosage and schedule.

Side Effects

Important things to remember about the side effects of ravulizumab:

  • Most people will not experience all of the ravulizumab side effects listed.
  • Ravulizumab side effects are often predictable in terms of their onset, duration, and severity.
  • Ravulizumab side effects will improve after therapy is complete.
  • Ravulizumab side effects may be quite manageable. THere are many options to minimize or prevent the side effects of ravulizumab.

The following side effects are common (occurring in greater than 30%) for patients taking ravulizumab:

These are less common side effects (occurring in 10-29%) for patients receiving ravulizumab:

Not all side effects are listed above. Side effects that are very rare -- occurring in less than about 10 percent of patients -- are not listed here. But you should always inform your health care provider if you experience any unusual symptoms.

When to Contact Your Doctor or Health Care Provider

Contact your health care provider immediately, day or night, if you should experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever of 100.4┬║ F (38┬║ C) or higher, chills (possible signs of infection.
  • Signs of meningitis (severe headache, neck stiffness, high fever, flu-like symptoms, confusion, sensitivity to light)

The following symptoms require medical attention, but are not an emergency. Contact your health care provider within 24 hours of noticing any of the following:

  • 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
  • Blood in the urine
  • Pain or burning with urination
  • Extreme fatigue (unable to carry on self-care activities)
  • Mouth sores (painful redness, swelling or ulcers)

Always inform your health care provider if you experience any unusual symptoms.

Precautions

  • Before starting ravulizumab treatment, make sure you tell your doctor about any other medications you are taking (including prescription, over-the-counter, vitamins, herbal remedies, etc.).
  • Meningococcal infections have happened to patients who have taken this drug. You should receive a meningococcal vaccine at least two weeks prior to your first dose of ravulizumab.
  • Do not receive any kind of immunization or vaccination without your doctor's approval while taking ravulizumab.
  • Inform your health care professional if you are pregnant or may be pregnant prior to starting this treatment.
  • For both men and women: Use contraceptives, and do not conceive a child (get pregnant) while taking ravulizumab. Barrier methods of contraception, such as condoms, are recommended.
  • Do not breast feed while taking and for 8 months after taking ravulizumab.

Self-Care Tips

  • 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, use a soft toothbrush, and rinse three times a day with 1 teaspoon of baking soda mixed with 8 ounces of water.
  • 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.
  • Follow regimen of anti-diarrhea medication as prescribed by your health care professional.
  • Eat foods that may help reduce diarrhea (see managing side effects - diarrhea).
  • Avoid sun exposure. Wear SPF 30 (or higher) sunblock and protective clothing.
  • In general, drinking alcoholic beverages should be kept to a minimum or avoided completely. You should discuss this with your doctor.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Maintain good nutrition.
  • Remain active as you are able. Gentle exercise is encouraged such as a daily walk.
  • If you experience symptoms or side effects, 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 While Taking Ravulizumab

You will be checked regularly by your doctor while you are taking ravulizumab, to monitor side effects and check your response to therapy. Periodic blood work will be obtained 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 Ravulizumab Works

Ravulizumab is classified as a monoclonal antibody. Monoclonal antibodies are a relatively new type of "targeted" therapy. Antibodies are in integral part of the body's immune system. Normally, the body creates antibodies in response to an antigen in order to mark it for destruction by the immune system.

To make anti-cancer monoclonal antibodies in the laboratory, scientists analyze specific Antigens on the surface of cancer cells (the targets). Then, using animal and human proteins, they create a specific antibody that will attach to the target antigen on the cancer cells. An antibody will attached to a matching antigen like a key fit a lock. This technology allows treatment to target specific cells, causing less toxicity to healthy cells.

Ravulizumab is a selective antibody that targets and binds to the complement protein C5. Binding of ravulizumab prevents the splitting of this protein which interferes with the formation of membrane attach complex (MAC). This interference prevents the destruction of red blood cells (hemolysis) and therefore results in stabilization of hemoglobin and decrease in the need for blood transfusions.

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 advice.

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