Indications and Important Safety Information for VELCADE® (bortezomib)
What is VELCADE used for?
VELCADE (bortezomib) is approved for the treatment of patients with multiple myeloma (a cancer of the plasma cells). VELCADE is also approved for the treatment of patients with mantle cell lymphoma (a cancer of the lymph nodes) who have already received other treatments.
How is VELCADE administered?
VELCADE is prescribed by a physician experienced in the use of medications to treat cancer. It is administered by a healthcare professional as an injection into your vein (intravenously, or IV) or under your skin (subcutaneously). VELCADE must not be administered into your spinal fluid (intrathecally).
Who should not receive VELCADE?
Before you receive treatment with VELCADE, tell your doctor about all of your medical conditions. You should not receive VELCADE if you are allergic to bortezomib, boron, or mannitol.
What are the possible side effects of VELCADE?
VELCADE (bortezomib) can cause serious side effects, including:
- Peripheral neuropathy. VELCADE can cause damage to the nerves, a condition called peripheral neuropathy. You may feel muscle weakness, tingling, burning, pain, and loss of feeling in your hands and feet, any of which can be severe. Tell your doctor if you notice any of these symptoms. Your doctor may change the dose and/or schedule of VELCADE or stop it altogether. If you have peripheral neuropathy before starting VELCADE, your doctor could consider giving you VELCADE subcutaneously.
- Low blood pressure. VELCADE can cause a drop in blood pressure. Tell your doctor if you have low blood pressure, feel dizzy, or feel as though you might faint. If you are taking drugs that lower blood pressure, your medications might need to be adjusted. If you are not drinking enough liquids, your doctor may need to administer IV fluids.
- Heart problems. Treatment with VELCADE can cause or worsen heart rhythm problems and heart failure. Your doctor may closely monitor you if you have, or are at risk for, heart disease. Tell your doctor if you experience chest pressure or pain, palpitations, swelling of your ankles or feet, or shortness of breath.
- Lung problems. There have been reports of lung disorders in patients receiving VELCADE. Some of these events have been fatal. Tell your doctor if you experience any cough, shortness of breath, wheezing, or difficulty breathing.
- Liver problems. If you have liver problems, it can be harder for your body to get rid of VELCADE. VELCADE has caused sudden liver failure in patients who were taking many medications or had other serious medical conditions. Symptoms of liver problems include a yellow discoloration of the eyes and skin (jaundice) and changes in liver enzymes measured in blood tests. Your doctor will closely monitor you if you have liver disease.
- Posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome (PRES). There have been reports of a rare, reversible condition involving the brain, called PRES, in patients treated with VELCADE. Patients with PRES can have seizures, high blood pressure, headaches, tiredness, confusion, blindness, or other vision problems. Treatment with VELCADE should be stopped in cases of PRES.
- Gastrointestinal problems. VELCADE (bortezomib) treatment can cause nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and constipation. If your symptoms are severe, your doctor may recommend IV fluids and/or medications.
- Neutropenia (low levels of neutrophils, a type of white blood cell). VELCADE can cause low levels of white blood cells (infection-fighting cells). If your white blood cells become low, you can be at higher risk for infections. Tell your doctor if you develop a fever or believe you have an infection.
- Thrombocytopenia (low levels of platelets). VELCADE can cause low levels of platelets (clot-forming cells). If platelets become very low, there is an increased risk of bleeding. Your doctor may recommend a platelet transfusion.
You will have regular blood tests to check your cell counts during your treatment with VELCADE. If the number of these cells is very low, your doctor may change the dose and/or schedule of VELCADE.
- Tumor lysis syndrome (TLS). TLS is a syndrome that causes a chemical imbalance in the blood that could lead to heart and/or kidney problems. TLS can occur with cancer treatments, and your doctor will be monitoring your blood and urine for any signs of this syndrome. If you develop TLS, your doctor will take appropriate steps to treat it.
More than 1 in 5 patients (20%) receiving VELCADE have experienced the following side effects: nausea, diarrhea, thrombocytopenia, neutropenia, peripheral neuropathy, fatigue, neuralgia (nerve pain), anemia, leukopenia (low levels of white blood cells), constipation, vomiting, lymphopenia (low levels of a certain type of white blood cells), rash, pyrexia (fever), and anorexia.
What other information should you discuss with your doctor?
Women should avoid becoming pregnant or breast-feeding while being treated with VELCADE (bortezomib). Discuss with your doctor when it is safe to restart breast-feeding after finishing your treatment.
You should also tell your doctor if you:
- Have kidney disease. If you are on dialysis, your doctor will administer VELCADE after the dialysis procedure.
- Are taking medication for diabetes. VELCADE can affect your blood glucose levels. Your doctor may require close monitoring of your blood glucose levels and change the dose of your diabetes medicine while you are being treated with VELCADE.
- Have liver disease.
- Are using any other medications, including prescription and over-the-counter drugs, herbal or dietary supplements, or holistic treatments. St. John’s wort should be avoided.
- Develop a rash of any type while receiving VELCADE.
The side effects of VELCADE may impair your ability to drive or operate machinery.
These are not all of the possible side effects with VELCADE. It is important to always contact your doctor if you experience any side effects while on VELCADE. If you have any questions about VELCADE, contact your doctor. Additional information is available on the Web site VELCADE.com.
Please see the full Prescribing Information for VELCADE, including Warnings and Precautions.