Alimta (generic: pemetrexed) is a prescription medication used to treat mesothelioma (a form of cancer) and non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer. Alimta belongs to a group of drugs called antifolate antineoplastic agents, which help stop cancer cells from multiplying.
This medication comes in an injectable form to be given directly into a vein (IV) over 10 minutes every 3 weeks.
Common side effects of Alimta include fever, diarrhea, and nausea.
Alimta is a prescription medicine used to treat mesothelioma and a certain kind of lung cancer called nonsquamous non-small cell lung cancer.
This medication may be prescribed for other uses. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Call your doctor right away if you have a fever, chills, diarrhea, or mouth sores. These symptoms could mean you have an infection.
Common side effects of Alimta are:
- low blood cell counts including:
- low red blood cells.
- low white blood cells.
- low platelets
- mouth, throat, or lip sores
- loss of appetite
- hair loss
This is not a complete list of Alimta side effects. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Tell your doctor if you are taking other medicines, including prescription and nonprescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Alimta and other medicines may affect each other causing serious side effects. Especially, tell your doctor if you are taking medicines called “nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs” (NSAIDs) for pain or swelling. There are many NSAID medicines. Tell your doctor if you are taking:
- ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil)
- naproxen (Naprosyn) or naproxen sodium (Aleve, Anaprox, Naprelan)
- diclofenac (Cataflam, Voltaren)
- indomethacin (Indocin)
- nabumetone (Relafen)
- oxaprozin (Daypro)
- celecoxib (Celebrex)
- meloxicam (Mobic)
- etodolac (Lodine)
- ketoprofen (Orudis)
- ketorolac (Toradol)
Medicines can interact with certain foods. In some cases, this may be harmful and your doctor may advise you to avoid certain foods. In the case of Alimta there are no specific foods that you must exclude from your diet when receiving Alimta.
Tell your doctor about all of your medical conditions, including if you have kidney disease.
Tell your doctor if you are allergic to Alimta or any other medication.
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.
Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Alimta may harm your unborn baby.
Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if Alimta is excreted in human breast milk or if it will harm your nursing baby.
Alimta is slowly infused (injected) into a vein. The injection or infusion will last about 10 minutes. You will usually receive Alimta once every 21 days (3 weeks).
If you are being treated with Alimta and cisplatin for the initial treatment of either mesothelioma or non-small cell lung cancer, Alimta will be given first as a 10 minute infusion into your vein and cisplatin (another anti-cancer drug) will also be given through your vein starting about 30 minutes after Alimta and ending about 2 hours later.
If you have completed initial treatment for your non-small cell lung cancer, you may receive Alimta alone, given as a 10 minute infusion into your vein.
If you are being treated because your non-small cell lung cancer has returned, you may receive Alimta alone, given as a 10 minute infusion into your vein.
Your doctor will prescribe a medicine called a “corticosteroid” to take for 3 days during your treatment with Alimta. Corticosteroid medicines lower your chances for getting skin reactions with Alimta.
It is very important to take folic acid and vitamin B12 during your treatment with Alimta to lower your chances of harmful side effects. You must start taking 350-1000 micrograms of folic acid every day for at least 5 days out of the 7 days before your first dose of Alimta. You must keep taking folic acid every day during the time you are getting treatment with Alimta and for 21 days after your last treatment. You can get folic acid vitamins over-the-counter. Folic acid is also found in many multivitamin pills. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for help if you are not sure how to choose a folic acid product. Your doctor will give you vitamin B12 injections while you are getting treatment with Alimta. You will get your first vitamin B12 injection during the week before your first dose of Alimta, and then about every 9 weeks during treatment.
You will have regular blood tests before and during your treatment with Alimta. Your doctor may adjust your dose of Alimta or delay treatment based on the results of your blood tests and on your general condition.
- Combination use in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer and Mesothelioma: Recommended dose of Alimta is 500 mg/m2 i.v. on Day 1 of each 21-day cycle in combination with cisplatin 75 mg/m2 i.v. beginning 30 minutes after Alimta administration.
- Single-Agent use in Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer: Recommended dose of Alimta is 500 mg/m2 i.v. on Day 1 of each 21-day cycle.
- Dose Reductions: Dose reductions or discontinuation may be needed based on toxicities from the preceding cycle of therapy.
Alimta is usually administered by a healthcare provider in a medical setting making it unlikely for an overdose to occur. However, if overdose is suspected, seek emergency medical attention.
Alimta is available in single-use vials containing 100 mg or 500 mg pemetrexed for injection.
Active ingredient: pemetrexed disodium
- hydrochloric acid
- sodium hydroxide
Alimta, pemetrexed for injection, should be stored at 25°C (77°F); excursions permitted to 15-30°C (59-86°F).
Chemical and physical stability of reconstituted and infusion solutions of Alimta were demonstrated for up to 24 hours following initial reconstitution, when stored refrigerated, 2-8°C (36-46°F), or at 25°C (77°F), excursions permitted to 15-30°C (59-86°F) [see USP Controlled Room Temperature]. When prepared as directed, reconstituted and infusion solutions of Alimta contain no antimicrobial preservatives. Discard unused portion.
Alimta is not light sensitive.