Read about pomalidomide, how you have it and other important information about taking this targeted cancer drug for cancer.
What is pomalidomide?
Pomalidomide (pronounced pom-a-lid-oh-mide) is a targeted cancer drug (biological therapy). It is also known by its brand name, Imnovid (pronounced imm-know-vid).
Pomalidomide is a treatment for myeloma. It is for people who have already had at least 2 other treatments, including lenalidomide and bortezomib, that are no longer working.
How it works
Pomalidomide affects how the immune system works and is called an immunomodulatory agent. It works in a number of ways, including:
- stopping the myeloma cells developing
- stopping blood vessel growth – it is a type of anti angiogenic drug
- encouraging the immune system to kill the myeloma cells
How you have it
You take pomalidomide as capsules with a glass of water. You need to swallow the capsules whole. Don’t break or chew them. You should take them at the same time every day. You can take pomalidomide with or without food.
You take pomalidomide every day for 3 weeks and then have a break for 1 week. This is 1 cycle of treatment. You then start the next cycle. You will also need to take a steroid. You take the treatment for as long as it is controlling the myeloma.
Taking your tablets or capsules
Whether you have a full or empty stomach can affect how much of a drug gets into your bloodstream.
You should take the right dose, not more or less.
Never stop taking a cancer drug without talking to your specialist first.
Tests during treatment
You have blood tests before starting treatment and during your treatment. They check your levels of blood cells and other substances in the blood. They also check how well your liver and kidneys are working.
Other medicines, foods and drink
Cancer drugs can interact with some other medicines and herbal products. Tell your doctor or pharmacist about any medicines you are taking. This includes vitamins, herbal supplements and over the counter remedies.
Preventing pregnancy while taking pomalidomide
Pomalidomide can cause birth defects in children. So you must not become pregnant or father a child while taking this drug. Your doctor will talk to you about contraception before you have the treatment. They will make sure that you understand the risks of taking pomalidomide.
You will need to agree to use effective contraception:
- for 4 weeks before you start treatment
- during treatment
- for 4 weeks after you finish treatment
Women also need to have pregnancy tests before starting treatment and every 4 weeks while having treatment.
Pregnant women should not touch or handle pomalidomide. You must store it in a place where pregnant women or children cannot reach it.
Some people worry about taking pomalidomide but it doesn’t cause physical defects in adults.
Contraception for men
Pomalidomide is present in semen during treatment. All men taking pomalidomide should use condoms during sexual intercourse. This needs to be continued for 7 days after the treatment ends.
Don’t breastfeed during this treatment because the drug may come through in your breast milk.
You may not be able to become pregnant or father a child after treatment with this drug. Talk to your doctor before starting treatment if you think you may want to have a baby in the future. Men may be able to store sperm before starting treatment. Women may be able to store eggs or ovarian tissue but this is rare.
Treatment for other conditions
Always tell other doctors, nurses or dentists that you’re having this treatment if you need treatment for anything else, including teeth problems.
Don’t have immunisations with live vaccines while you’re having treatment and for at least 6 months afterwards.
In the UK, live vaccines include rubella, mumps, measles, BCG, yellow fever and Zostavax (shingles vaccine).
- have other vaccines, but they might not give you as much protection as usual
- have the flu vaccine
- be in contact with other people who've had live vaccines as injections
Avoid contact with people who’ve had live vaccines taken by mouth (oral vaccines). This includes the rotavirus vaccine given to babies. The virus is in the baby’s urine for up to 2 weeks and can make you ill. So, you mustn't change their nappies for 2 weeks after their vaccination.
You also need to avoid anyone who has had oral polio or typhoid vaccination recently.
More information about this treatment
For further information about this treatment go to the electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC) website.
You can report any side effect you have to the Medicines Health and Regulatory Authority (MHRA) as part of their Yellow Card Scheme.