Alefacept injection will no longer be available in the U.S. after November 2011. If you are currently receiving alefacept injection, you should talk to your doctor to discuss switching to another treatment.
Alefacept is used to treat moderate to severe chronic plaque psoriasis (a skin disease in which red, scaly patches form on some areas of the body). Alefacept is in a class of medications called immunosuppressants. It works by stopping the action of certain cells in the body that cause the symptoms of psoriasis.
Alefacept comes as a solution to inject into a muscle or intravenously (into a vein). It is usually injected in a doctor's office once a week for 12 weeks. Sometimes a second 12-week cycle is given, but it is always separated from the first cycle by a period of at least 12 weeks without the medication.
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
Before using alefacept,
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to alefacept or any other medications.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention medications that suppress the immune system such as azathioprine (Imuran); cancer chemotherapy; cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune); methotrexate (Rheumatrex); oral steroids such as dexamethasone (Decadron, Dexone), methylprednisolone (Medrol), and prednisone (Deltasone);sirolimus (Rapamune); and tacrolimus (Prograf). Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.
- tell your doctor if you or any of your close relatives have or have ever had cancer and if you have or have ever had any disease that affects your immune system such as human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS), or severe combined immunodeficiency syndrome (SCID); or kidney or liver disease. Also tell your doctor if you have any type of infection, including infections that come and go (such as cold sores), and chronic infections that do not go away such as tuberculosis (TB), varicella (chickenpox or shingles), or hepatitis, or if you frequently get any type of infection such as urinary tract or bladder infections.
- tell your doctor if your psoriasis is being treated with phototherapy (a treatment for psoriasis that involves exposing the skin to ultraviolet light).
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while using alefacept or within 8 weeks of stopping alefacept, call your doctor.
- if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are using alefacept.
- do not have any vaccinations (shots to prevent diseases) without talking to your doctor.
- you should know that alefacept may decrease your ability to fight infection and increase the risk that you will develop a serious infection. Stay away from people who are sick and wash your hands often while you are using this medication.
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.
If you miss an appointment to receive an alefacept injection, call your doctor as soon as possible.
Alefacept may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- muscle pain
- pain, redness, swelling, or bleeding in the place where alefacept was injected
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
- swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
- difficulty breathing or swallowing
- fever, sore throat, chills, and other signs of infection
- changes in skin such as new or changed sores, spots, lumps or moles
- lumps or masses in any part of the body
- upset stomach
- loss of appetite
- extreme tiredness
- stomach pain
- yellowing of the skin or eyes
- easy bruising
- dark urine
- pale stools
Alefacept may increase the risk that you will develop cancer. Talk to your doctor about the risks of using this medication.
Alefacept may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while using this medication.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online [at Web Site] or by phone [1-800-332-1088].
Your doctor will store the medication in his office and give it to you each week.
In case of overdose, call your local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. If the victim has collapsed or is not breathing, call local emergency services at 911.
Symptoms of overdose may include:
- joint pain
- sinus pain
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order certain lab tests before and during treatment to check your body's response to alefacept.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.
AHFS® Consumer Medication Information. © Copyright, The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, Inc., 7272 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland. All Rights Reserved. Duplication for commercial use must be authorized by ASHP.
Last Reviewed: October 19, 2012.