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Pomalidomide (Imnovid)

Find out what pomalidomide is, how you have it and other important information about taking pomalidomide. 

Pomalidomide (pronounced pom-a-lid-oh-mide) is a targeted cancer drug and is also known by its brand name, Imnovid.

It is a treatment for people with myeloma that got worse despite having had treatment with at least 2 other drugs, including lenalidomide and bortezomib. 

How it works

Pomalidomide 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.

Taking your capsules

You must take tablets and capsules according to the instructions your doctor or pharmacist gives you.

You should take the right dose, not more or less.

Talk to your specialist or advice line before you stop taking a cancer drug.

When you have it

You take pomalidomide as cycles of treatment. Each cycle of treatment last 28 days (4 weeks). You usually also take a steroid drug called dexamethasone. 

You have each cycle of treatment in the following way:

Day 1 to 21
  • You take pomalidomide capsules once a day
  • You take the steroid drug dexamethasone on the first day of each week (day 1, 8, and 15)
Day 22 to 28
  • You have no treatment with pomalidomide
  • You take the steroid drug dexamethasone on day 22 only

You then start the next cycle of treatment. This continues for as long as it is controlling the myeloma.

Tests

You have blood tests before 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.

Side effects

Important information

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.

Pregnancy and contraception

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.

Some people worry about taking pomalidomide but it doesn’t cause physical defects in adults.
Women

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.

Men

Pomalidomide is present in semen during treatment. All men taking pomalidomide should use condoms during sexual intercourse. This needs to continue for 7 days after the treatment ends. 

Fertility

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.

Breastfeeding

Don’t breastfeed during this treatment because the drug may come through into your breast milk.

Treatment for other conditions

Always tell other doctors, nurses, pharmacists or dentists that you’re having this treatment if you need treatment for anything else, including teeth problems.

Immunisations

Don’t have immunisations with live vaccines while you’re having treatment and for up to 12 months afterwards. The length of time depends on the treatment you are having. Ask your doctor or pharmacist how long you should avoid live vaccinations.

In the UK, live vaccines include rubella, mumps, measles, BCG, yellow fever and the shingles vaccine (Zostavax).

You can:

  • have other vaccines, but they might not give you as much protection as usual
  • have the flu vaccine (as an injection)
  • be in contact with other people who have had live vaccines as injections

Avoid close contact with people who have recently had live vaccines taken by mouth (oral vaccines) such as oral polio or the typhoid vaccine.

This also includes the rotavirus vaccine given to babies. The virus is in the baby’s poo for up to 2 weeks and could make you ill. So avoid changing their nappies for 2 weeks after their vaccination if possible. Or wear disposable gloves and wash your hands well afterwards.

You should also avoid close contact with children who have had the flu vaccine nasal spray if your immune system is severely weakened. 

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.

Information and help

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