Bexarotene : Uses, Side Effects, Interactions & More
Bexarotene should not be taken by patients who are pregnant or who may become pregnant. There is a high risk that bexarotene will cause the baby to be born with birth defects (problems that are present at birth).
Talk to your doctor about the risks of taking bexarotene.
For female patients:
If you are able to become pregnant, you should avoid becoming pregnant during your treatment with bexarotene. You must use two acceptable methods of birth control for 1 month before you start taking bexarotene, at all times during your treatment, and for 1 month after your treatment. Your doctor will tell you which birth control methods are acceptable. Bexarotene can decrease the effectiveness of hormonal contraceptives (birth control pills, patches, rings, implants, and injections), so it is especially important to use a second form of birth control in conjunction with this type of contraceptive.
You will start taking bexarotene on the second or third day of your menstrual period. You must have a negative pregnancy test within a week of starting your treatment and every month during your treatment. After each negative pregnancy test, you will be given only a 1-month supply of bexarotene.
Stop taking bexarotene and call your doctor right away if you think you are pregnant, miss a menstrual period, or have sex without using two methods of birth control.
For male patients:
You should use a condom every time you have sexual contact with a woman who is pregnant or may become pregnant while taking bexarotene and for 1 month after your treatment. Call your doctor if your partner becomes pregnant during this time.
Why is this medication prescribed?
Bexarotene is used to treat cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL, a type of skin cancer) in people whose disease could not be successfully treated with at least one other medicine. Bexarotene is in a class of medications called retinoids. It works by stopping the growth of cancer cells.
How should this medicine be used?
Bexarotene comes as capsules to take by mouth. It is usually taken once a day with food. Take bexarotene at around the same time every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any parts you do not understand. Take bexarotene exactly as directed. Do not take more or less, or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Swallow the capsules whole; do not chew the capsules or dissolve them in liquid or in your mouth. If you cannot swallow the capsules whole, talk to your doctor.
Bexarotene can be harmful if it comes in contact with your skin. Do not touch the capsules or capsule powder if they are broken or leaking. If the powder from a broken capsule gets on your skin, wash the area with soap and water immediately and call your doctor.
Your doctor will start with an average dose of bexarotene and may decrease your dose if you experience side effects or increase your dose if your condition does not improve.
It may take several months or more before you notice the full benefit of bexarotene. Do not stop taking bexarotene without consulting your doctor.
Ask your pharmacist or doctor for a copy of the manufacturer’s information for the patient.
Other uses for this medicine
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before taking bexarotene,
- Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to bexarotene; or any other retinoid, such as acitretin (Soriatane), etretinate (Tegison), isotretinoin (Accutane), or tretinoin (Vesanoid); or any other medication.
- Tell your doctor and pharmacist what other prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: amiodarone (Cordarone); certain antifungals such as ketoconazole (Nizoral) and itraconazole (Sporanox); cimetidine (Tagamet); clarithromycin (Biaxin); diltiazem (Cardizem); erythromycin (E.E.S., E-Mycin, Erythrocin); fluvoxamine; gemfibrozil (Lopid), HIV protease inhibitors such as indinavir (Crixivan), nelfinavir (Viracept), and ritonavir (Norvir, in Kaletra); insulin and oral medications for diabetes; nefazodone; phenobarbital; phenytoin (Dilantin); rifampicin (Rifadin, Rimactane); tamoxifen (Nolvadex); Verapamil (Calan); and vitamin A. Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects. Many other medications can also interact with bexarotene, so be sure to tell your doctor about all the medications you are taking, even those that do not appear on this list.
- Tell your doctor if you drink or have ever drunk large amounts of alcohol. Also tell your doctor if you have or have ever had pancreatitis; high levels of cholesterol and other fatty substances in the blood; diabetes; cataracts or disease of the gallbladder, thyroid, kidney or liver.
- Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding.
- Ask your doctor about the safe use of alcoholic beverages while taking bexarotene. Alcohol can make the side effects of bexarotene worse.
- Plan to avoid unnecessary or prolonged exposure to sunlight and wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Bexarotene can make your skin sensitive to sunlight.
What special dietary instructions should I follow?
Talk to your doctor about eating grapefruit and drinking grapefruit juice while taking this medication.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
Take the missed dose with food as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for the one you forgot.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Bexarotene may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- increased sensitivity to cold
- increase in weight
- joint or muscle pain
- thin, brittle hair or fingernails
- dry skin
- redness, scaling, or itching of the skin
- hair loss
- swelling of ankles, feet, and legs
- difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
- sudden or ongoing back or stomach pain
- severe and ongoing nausea and vomiting
- fever, sore throat, chills, or other signs of infection
- changes in vision
Bexarotene can increase the levels of cholesterol and other fats in the blood and can prevent the thyroid gland from working normally. Your doctor will monitor you carefully to see if you are experiencing any of these side effects. If you experience any of these side effects, your doctor may prescribe another medication to control the side effect while taking bexarotene.
Bexarotene can cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medicine.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor can submit a report online to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?
Keep this medicine in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of the reach of children. Store at room temperature and away from excess heat, light, and moisture (not in the bathroom).
Unnecessary medications must be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and others cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medicine down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medications is through a drug take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage / recycling department to find out about take-back programs in your community. Check out the FDA drug safe disposal website (http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
It is important to keep all medicines out of the sight and reach of children, as many containers (such as those containing weekly pills and those for eye drops, creams, patches and inhalers) are not child-resistant and small children can easily open them. To protect young children from poisoning, always close the safety caps and immediately place the medicine in a safe place, one that is upright and out of their sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org
In case of emergency/overdose
In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. If the victim collapsed, had a seizure, is having trouble breathing, or is unable to wake up, immediately call 911 for emergency services.
What other information should I know?
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order certain laboratory tests to check your body’s response to bexarotene.
Before having any laboratory test, tell your doctor and the laboratory personnel that you are taking bexarotene.
Do not let anyone else take your medicine. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important that you keep a written list of all prescription and over-the-counter (over-the-counter) medications you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should take this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you go into hospital. It is also important information to take with you in case of emergencies.
- Targretin® Capsules
Disclaimer: DrLinex has made every effort to ensure that all information is factually accurate, comprehensive and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a licensed health care professional’s choice of knowledge and expertise. You should always consult your doctor or other health care professional before taking any medication. The information given here is subject to change and it has not been used to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions or adverse effects. The lack of warning or other information for any drug does not indicate that the combination of medicine or medication is safe, effective or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.