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Efalizumab (Injection)

Efalizumab (ef-a-LIZ-oo-mab)

Treats psoriasis in adults. Genentech announced on April 8, 2009 that all products containing efalizumab will no longer be available on the market after June 8, 2009, because it may cause a rare but serious side effect.

Brand Name(s):

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used:

You should not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to efalizumab or if you have a condition called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML).

How to Use This Medicine:


  • Your doctor will prescribe your exact dose and tell you how often it should be given. This medicine is given as a shot under your skin.
  • Your dose of this medicine will depend on how much you weigh. Be sure to tell your doctor if your weight changes at any time while you are using the medicine.
  • You may be taught how to give your medicine at home. Make sure you understand all instructions before giving yourself an injection. Do not use more medicine or use it more often than your doctor tells you to.
  • This medicine should come with a Medication Guide. Read and follow these instructions carefully. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions. Ask your pharmacist for the Medication Guide if you do not have one.
  • You will be shown the body areas where this shot can be given. Use a different body area each time you give yourself a shot. Keep track of where you give each shot to make sure you rotate body areas.
  • Use a new needle and syringe each time you inject your medicine.

If a dose is missed:

  • If you miss a dose or forget to use your medicine, use it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then to use the medicine and skip the missed dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.

How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine:

  • If you store this medicine at home, keep it in the refrigerator. Do not freeze.
  • Keep all medicine away from children and never share your medicine with anyone.
  • Throw away used needles in a hard, closed container that the needles cannot poke through. Keep this container away from children and pets.
  • Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of any leftover medicine, containers, and other supplies. You will also need to throw away old medicine after the expiration date has passed.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid:

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Tell your doctor about all other treatments you are using for your psoriasis, including sunlamp or PUV light therapy. Make sure your doctor knows if you are also using medicines that weaken the immune system (such as steroids, cancer medicines, or radiation).
  • Talk to your doctor before getting flu shots or other vaccines while you are receiving this medicine. Vaccines may not work as well, or they could make you ill while you are using this medicine.

Warnings While Using This Medicine:

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Your doctor may want you to join a pregnancy registry for patients taking this medicine. If you become pregnant while you are using this medicine or within 6 weeks after you stop using it, call your doctor.
  • Tell your doctor if you have chills, fever or any kind of infection, arthritis, or immune system problems.
  • This medicine may increase your risk of developing infections, including a serious brain infection called progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy. Talk about this risk with your doctor.
  • Tell your doctor right away if you start having numbness, tingling, or weakness in your arms, legs, or face; or problems with thinking, balance, talking, walking, or vision. These could be symptoms of a nervous system disorder.
  • This medicine may increase your risk of getting some forms of cancer. Talk to your doctor about this risk if you have concerns.
  • When you first start using this medicine, you may have a headache, fever, muscle aches, nausea, and vomiting, especially after your first dose. These symptoms usually clear up once you are using the medicine regularly. Call your doctor right away if you get a fever, chills, muscle aches, or flu-like symptoms after the first few doses. These may be symptoms of an infection.
  • Tell your doctor if you want to stop using this medicine. Your psoriasis may become worse if you miss a dose or stop using the medicine altogether.
  • This medicine lowers the number of some types of blood cells in your body. Because of this, you may bleed or get infections more easily. To help with these problems, avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Wash your hands often. Stay away from rough sports or other situations where you could be bruised, cut, or injured. Brush and floss your teeth gently. Be careful when using sharp objects, including razors and fingernail clippers.
  • Your doctor will need to check your blood at regular visits while you are using this medicine. Be sure to keep all appointments.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine:

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing.
  • Changes in the size, color, or shape of a mole anywhere on your skin.
  • Dark-colored urine or pale stools.
  • Fever, chills, cough, sore throat, and body aches.
  • Numbness, tingling, or burning pain in your hands, arms, legs, or feet.
  • Pinpoint red or purple spots under your skin.
  • Problems with balance, speech, walking, or vision.
  • Redness, swelling, or pus-filled areas on your skin.
  • Sores or white patches on your lips, mouth, or throat.
  • Sweating, confusion, uneven heartbeat, or muscle stiffness.
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising.
  • Unusual tiredness or weakness.
  • Worsening of psoriasis.
  • Yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes.

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Acne.
  • Back ache or muscle pain.
  • Headache.
  • Nausea.
  • Joint pain or swelling.

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

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

Last Updated: 6/12/2013

The information provided herein should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. A licensed medical professional should be consulted for diagnosis and treatment of any and all medical conditions. Call 911 for all medical emergencies. Links to other sites are provided for information only -- they do not constitute endorsements of those other sites.

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