Vemurafenib (brand name- Zelboraf) is an FDA-approved treatment for melanoma (a type of skin cancer) that cannot be treated with surgery or that has spread to other parts of the body. It is also used to treat a certain type of Erdheim-Chester disease (ECD; a disease that causes an overproduction of a type of white blood cells). It should never be used in wild-type BRAF-Melanoma.
Vemurafenib is in a class of medications called kinase inhibitors. It works by blocking the action of an abnormal protein that signals cancer cells to multiply. This helps slow or stop the spread of cancer cells.
Let us walk you through the key things you need to know about vemurafenib.
How should I take vemurafenib (Zelboraf)?
Vemurafenib comes as a tablet to take by mouth. It is usually taken with or without food twice a day, in the morning and evening, about 12 hours apart. Take vemurafenib at around the same time every day. Take vemurafenib exactly as directed. Do not stop taking vemurafenib without talking to your doctor. Swallow the tablets whole with a glass of water; do not chew or crush them.
If you vomit after you take vemurafenib, do not immediately take another dose. Continue your regular dosing schedule. Be sure to tell your doctor how you are feeling during your treatment with vemurafenib. You can help them by tracking your side effects in Ankr.
What are the side effects of vemurafenib (Zelboraf)?
Common side effects
- joint, muscle, arm, leg, or back pain
- redness or swelling in hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
- change in sense of taste
- hair Loss (alopecia)
- dry or itchy skin
- diarrhea (loose stools)
- rash or redness all over the body
- vomiting (emesis)
- appetite loss
- changes in skin appearance
- new wart
- change in size or color of a mole
Serious side effects
- skin sore or red bump that bleeds or does not heal
- extreme tiredness
- unusual bruising or bleeding
- pain in the upper right part of the stomach
- yellowing of the skin or eyes
- eye sensitivity to light
- eye redness or pain
- vision changes
- unusual thickening of palms of hands
- tightening of the fingers inwards towards the palm
- unusual thickening of soles of feet, that may be painful
- difficulty breathing or swallowing
- rapid, irregular, or pounding heartbeats
- fainting (syncope)
- peeling or blistering skin
Vemurafenib may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking 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 or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
What special precautions should I follow?
Before taking vemurafenib (Zelboraf)
- tell your doctor about your allergies
- tell your doctor about other intakes
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had any disease, symptom, or treatment
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. You should not become pregnant while you are taking vemurafenib. Talk to your doctor about birth control methods that will work for you.
While you are on vemurafenib (Zelboraf)
- If you become pregnant while taking vemurafenib, call your doctor. Vemurafenib may harm the fetus.
- tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding. You should not breastfeed while taking vemurafenib and for 2 weeks after your final dose.
- if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking vemurafenib.
- plan to avoid unnecessary or prolonged exposure to sunlight and to wear protective clothing, sunglasses, lip balm and sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher). Vemurafenib may make your skin sensitive to sunlight.
I forgot a dose. What should I do?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is within 4 hours of your next scheduled dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
In case of an emergency/overdose
In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can’t be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.
How should I safely store and dispose of vemurafenib (Zelboraf)?
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom).
To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org
You should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA’s Safe Disposal of Medicines website (http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
What special dietary instructions should I follow?
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.
Last Revised -09/27/2023, FDA updated- 09/27/2023,SG
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