What People Ask Most Often About LEMTRADA By MS One to One • March 14, 2019
Hello, my name is Debra. I’m a registered nurse and I’m MS certified. I am one of the LEMTRADA Nurses with the MS One to One program. My job is to answer your questions about LEMTRADA and offer support and resources that can help you from the time that you’re considering your treatment options, all the way through the infusion courses and monitoring in the years that follow.
It doesn’t really take a nursing degree to understand that it’s perfectly normal for people who are considering a treatment to feel anxious or concerned when they have questions, but they don’t have answers. So I’d like to help address some of those concerns, provide answers, and point you toward some resources that I think can help you find the information you are looking for.
Just remember, your healthcare provider is always your primary source for information and specific questions about your health. They know much more about you than a blogger on a website ever could (even one as friendly and helpful as yours truly!).
Below are some of the most common questions I hear from people who are considering LEMTRADA, along with brief answers and resources where you can find additional information.
Q: Can LEMTRADA help with my relapsing MS?
A: There are many factors that must be considered before starting a new treatment. While only your healthcare provider can tell you if LEMTRADA is right for you, I can tell you that LEMTRADA has been studied in 2 Phase III clinical trials over 2 years, with 1,191 participants who had relapsing MS. Understanding the results of these studies may inspire you to have a discussion with your healthcare provider about LEMTRADA. You can watch a video about the results of the studies here.
Q: How does LEMTRADA treat relapsing MS?
A: MS is thought to occur when overactive immune cells attack parts of the central nervous system. LEMTRADA is believed to work by targeting and removing many of these cells that may cause relapsing forms of MS. It is not known exactly how LEMTRADA works in MS, but watching this explanation about LEMTRADA in the body may help.
Q: How is LEMTRADA given?
A: Another topic that people often want to discuss is the LEMTRADA infusion schedule, and how it may differ from treatments they’ve used before.
LEMTRADA is an infusion therapy that is given in your vein (IV) in two or more treatment courses. There are 5 infusion days in a row in year 1, and 3 infusion days in a row in year 2. It will take at least 8 hours per day from start to finish—that includes receiving your pre-medications, 4 hours for LEMTRADA treatment, and at least 2 hours for post-treatment observation. After your first treatment, you’ll start monthly monitoring, including monthly blood and urine tests, self-checks and annual skin exams, to detect potential side effects. Monitoring will continue until 4 years, or longer, after your last treatment course.
You can get more information when you watch a video about the infusion process here.
Q: What can I expect during LEMTRADA treatment?
A: Before starting LEMTRADA treatment, there are certain steps you must take.
Your healthcare provider will instruct you to complete pretreatment blood and urine tests and a skin check. You may also be asked to get vaccinations at least 6 weeks before treatment.
You should avoid foods that are potential sources of listeria prior to your treatment, and continue so until your healthcare provider confirms that it is safe for you to eat those foods again.
Additionally, you should use birth control while receiving LEMTRADA and for four months after the treatment course.
When you are ready to begin, you will receive your infusion at a healthcare facility with equipment and staff certified to administer LEMTRADA.
During treatment, you will sit or recline in an infusion chair. For the first 3 days of your treatment course, you’ll receive intravenous steroids to help prevent infusion reactions. Once that is complete, you’ll start to receive your LEMTRADA infusion, which will last for at least 4 hours, plus 2 hours for observation afterward.
In those hours, you can read, watch TV, talk on the phone, eat, or take a nap. You can get up to stretch or use the bathroom at any time. If something doesn’t feel quite right, just tell your infusion nurse. They are there to help.
An infusion nurse will be checking on you often to look for signs of infusion reactions including serious allergic reactions and urgent heart or breathing problems. In clinical studies, 92% of LEMTRADA-treated patients experienced infusion reactions. Serious infusion reactions did occur in 3% of patients. Serious infusion reactions may happen while you receive, or up to 24 hours or longer after you receive LEMTRADA.
Q: What happens after infusion?
A: After your LEMTRADA infusion course is complete, you will need regular monitoring 4 years, or longer, after the last treatment course. Monitoring is just as important as the LEMTRADA treatment.
You will need monthly blood and urine tests, regular self-checks, and yearly skin checks. These help to monitor for possible side effects that can show up months or even years after your last infusion, including autoimmune side effects and some kinds of cancers, including skin cancer (melanoma). It is important to have your blood and urine tested, even if you are feeling well and do not have any symptoms from LEMTRADA or your MS. This may help your healthcare provider find potential side effects early.
To find out more about monitoring and to hear a patient’s perspective, watch a video here.
Still have questions? We’re happy to help.
I hope the information and resources I’ve presented have helped to address some of your concerns. Your next step would be to have a discussion with your healthcare provider about your treatment options. If you still have questions about LEMTRADA, you can call MS One to One anytime, day or night, at 1-855-676-6326.
- MS ONE TO ONE
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