Brentuximab treats certain types of blood cancer. Brentuximab can cause diarrhea, nausea, and hair loss. Tell your doctor if you are receiving a medication called bleomycin.

Brentuximab Overview

Reviewed: September 29, 2013

Brentuximab is a prescription medication used to treat Hodgkin's lymphoma and systemic anaplastic large cell lymphoma (sALCL; a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma) when other treatments have not been successful. This medication belongs to a group of drugs called antibody-drug conjugates. It attaches to and enters cancer cells and kills them.

Brentuximab comes in an injectable form to be given directly into a vein and infused over 30 minutes by a healthcare provider. It is usually injected once every 3 weeks.

Common side effects include tiredness, nausea, and diarrhea.

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Brentuximab Cautionary Labels


Uses of Brentuximab

Brentuximab is a prescription medication used to treat:

  • Hodgkin's lymphoma 
  • systemic anaplastic large cell lymphoma (sALCL; a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma

This medication is used after other treatments have been unsuccessful.

Brentuximab may be prescribed for other uses. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Brentuximab Brand Names

Brentuximab may be found in some form under the following brand names:

Brentuximab Drug Class

Brentuximab is part of the drug class:

Side Effects of Brentuximab

Common side effects include:

  • tiredness
  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • low white blood cell counts
  • anemia
  • tingling sensation

This is not a complete list of brentuximab side effects. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Brentuximab Interactions

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Especially tell your doctor if you take:

  • clarithromycin (Biaxin, in PrevPac)
  • indinavir (Crixivan)
  • itraconazole (Sporanox)
  • ketoconazole (Nizoral)
  • nefazodone, nelfinavir (Viracept)
  • rifampin (Rifadin, in Rifamate, in Rifater, Rimactane)
  • ritonavir (Norvir, in Kaletra)
  • bleomycin

This is not a complete list of all drug interactions. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Brentuximab Precautions

Serious side effects have occured with use of brentuximab.

  • Receiving brentuximab vedotin injection may increase the risk that you will develop progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML; a rare infection of the brain that cannot be treated, prevented, or cured and that usually causes death or severe disability). Tell your doctor if you have or have ever had a condition that affects your immune system. Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking any medications that suppress the immune system. If you experience any of the following symptoms, stop receiving brentuximab vedotin injection and call your doctor immediately: decreased strength or weakness on one side of the body; difficulty walking; loss of coordination; headache; confusion; difficulty thinking clearly; memory loss; changes in mood or usual behavior; difficulty speaking; or vision problems.
  • Brentuximab may cause serious allergic reactions, which usually occur during the infusion of the medication or within 24 hours of receiving a dose. You may receive certain medications before your infusion to prevent an allergic reaction if you had a reaction with previous treatment. Your doctor will watch you carefully while you are receiving brentuximab. If you experience any of the following symptoms, tell your doctor immediately: fever, chills, rash, hives, itching, or difficulty breathing.
  • Call your doctor immediately or get emergency medical treatment:
    • unusual bleeding or bruising
    • numbness, burning, or tingling in the hands, arms, feet, or legs
    • muscle weakness
    • peeling or blistering skin
    • nausea
    • vomiting
    • diarrhea
    • decreased urination
    • swelling of the hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
    • difficult, painful, or frequent urination
    • fever, chills, cough, or other signs of infection

Do not take brentuximab if you are:

  • allergic to this medication
  • are also taking bleomycin

Brentuximab Food Interactions

Medications 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 this medication, there are no specific foods that you must exclude from your diet.


Inform MD

Before receiving brentuximab, tell your doctor and pharmacist if you:

  • are allergic to brentuximab, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in brentuximab. 
  • are receiving bleomycin. Your doctor will probably tell you not to use brentuximab if you are receiving this medication.
  • are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Brentuximab and Pregnancy

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

The FDA categorizes medications based on safety for use during pregnancy. Five categories - A, B, C, D, and X, are used to classify the possible risks to an unborn baby when a medication is taken during pregnancy.

This medication falls into category D. In animal studies, pregnant animals were given this medication and had some babies born with problems. No well-controlled studies have been done in humans. Therefore, this medication may be used if the potential benefits to the mother outweigh the potential risks to the unborn child.

Brentuximab and Lactation

Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed.

It is not known if brentuximab crosses into human milk. Because many medications can cross into human milk and because of the possibility for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants with use of this medication, a choice should be made whether to stop nursing or stop the use of this medication. Your doctor and you will decide if the benefits outweigh the risk of using this medication.


Brentuximab Usage

Brentuximab comes as a powder to be mixed with fluid and injected over 30 minutes intravenously (into a vein) by a healthcare professional. It is usually injected once every 3 weeks. This treatment period is called a cycle, and the cycle may be repeated up to 16 times.



Brentuximab Dosage

Take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully.

The dose your doctor recommends may be based on the following:

  • the condition being treated
  • other medical conditions you have
  • other medications you are taking
  • how you respond to this medication
  • your weight
  • your height
  • your age
  • your gender

The recommended dose is 1.8 mg/kg injected over 30 minutes every 3 weeks.

Brentuximab Overdose

Since this medication is administered by a healthcare provider in a medical setting, it is unlikely that an overdose will occur. However, if overdose is suspected, seek emergency medical attention.

Other Requirements

Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor may order certain tests to check your body's response to brentuximab vedotin injection.


Brentuximab FDA Warning


JC virus infection resulting in PML and death can occur in patients receiving this medication.