What is Kesimpta?
Kesimpta has a unique history. Initially, it was used to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia, a type of bone marrow and blood cancer.
Recently it has been approved for treating relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS).
Let’s understand more about the medication, including its uses, side effects, and precautions to be followed.
How to use Kesimpta
Kesimpta or Ofatumumab is a prescription medication indicated in treating relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (a disease in which the immune system damages the protective covering of nerves).
Damage to the nerves often disrupts the function of nerves, and people suffering from the same experience weakness, loss of muscle coordination, numbness, and problems with vision, bladder control, and speech.
It is approved in Canada for the following cases:
- Active secondary progressive MS: Here, the symptoms worsen without remission.
- Relapsing-remitting MS: MS that fluctuates between stages of relapse and remission. Symptoms flare up during relapse and reduce during remission.
- Clinically isolated syndrome: It is a condition where you may have symptoms of MS for about 24 hours. In some cases, CIS may turn into MS. However, this may not be true in other cases.
Kesimpta may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
How to use Kesimpta?
Kesimpta is a self-injecting injection that is to be taken once a month at home by the patients.
- It is to be self-administered by the patient in the abdomen, thigh, or outer upper arm subcutaneously (using a pen).
- The first injection is to be administered under the guidance of a professional expert.
- The syringes are single-use and should be discarded after use.
- Take the pen out of the refrigerator 15 to 30 minutes before injecting to allow it to reach room temperature.
- Do not shake the liquid, and it should clear to slightly cloudy.
- Contact your healthcare personnel with regards to the usage of pen or any queries.
- If you miss your dose, it should be administered as soon as possible without waiting until the next scheduled dose. Subsequent doses should be administered at the recommended intervals.
What are the ingredients in Kesimpta?
Ofatumumab is the primary ingredient of Kesimpta.
It is a monoclonal antibody that binds to CD20 (an immunity cell), destroying B cells involved in damaging the nerve cells in MS.
What are some precautions and warnings before taking Kesimpta?
- Inform your health worker about other prescription and non-prescription medications that you are taking. Also, inform about vitamins, herbal and nutritional supplements that you are taking or planning to take.
- Monitor immunoglobulins levels at the beginning, during, and after the end of the treatment.
- Before treatment with Kesimpta, your physician may ask you to undergo Hepatitis B screening as it is contraindicated in patients with active Hepatitis B infection.
- Do not have vaccines (Live vaccine or attenuated vaccine) during the treatment with Kesimpta and after the treatment until B-cell replication. As per standard guidelines, all vaccination should be done at least 4 weeks before treatment with Kesimpta (in case of live or live-attenuated vaccines) and 2 weeks prior (in case of inactivated vaccines).
How to store and dispose of Kesimpta?
- It is available as prefilled syringes and pens.
- It should be refrigerated at 2ºC to 8ºC
- Do not freeze
- Do not shake to avoid foaming
- Keep the product in the original carton until you want to use it.
What are important contraindications to consider before using Kesimpta?
Inform your healthcare provider in case of an allergy to Kesimpta or any other medication or any of the ingredients in Kesimpta. Ask your pharmacist or check the medication guide for a list of the ingredients.
Do not take or inform your doctor if you have or had following conditions;
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (a disease that affects lungs and airways)
- Active Hepatitis B infection
- Progressive Multifocal Leukoencephalopathy (a viral infection that affects the brain)
Besides, inform your doctor if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or planning to be pregnant. You should use birth control to prevent pregnancy during your treatment with Kesimpta. If you become pregnant while you are on treatment with Kesimpta, call your physician immediately since Kesimpta may harm your fetus.
What medications are contraindicated while using Kesimpta?
Kesimpta should not be used along with Immunosuppressant drugs or immune-modulating therapies. Some examples include:
This may not be a comprehensive list, and other drugs may interact with Kesimpta.
What are Kesimpta Side Effects?
Like all the medications, Kesimpta also has side effects. It is possible that you may experience the following side effects;
- Redness at the site of injection
- Pain, itching, and swelling at the site of injection.
- Muscle pain
- Upper respiratory tract infection
- Stuff nose
- Sore throat
Some of these effects may occur during the injection or up to 24 hours later. If you experience any of them, please get in touch with your physician or inform your caregiver immediately:
- Feel dizzy and tired
- Muscle pain
- Back pain
- Stomach pain
- Irregular heartbeats
- Chest tightness
- Breathing troubles
- Swelling and irritation in the throat
Get emergency help if you have allergic reactions. The following are the signs of an allergic reaction: hives; swelling on the face, tongue, lips, or throat; difficulty in breathing.
Kesimpta may cause a severe brain infection that can cause disability or death. Call your doctor immediately if you have problems with thought, vision, speech, or muscle movement. These symptoms may start gradually and get worst quickly.
This is not a complete list of side effects. If you experience severe side effects or symptoms that are persistent, please contact your doctor immediately.
What types of MS is Kesimpta approved to treat?
Kesimpta is approved to treat relapsing MS, including active secondary progressive MS, clinically isolated syndrome, and relapsing-remitting MS.
How is Kesimpta Taken?
It is available as a clear solution to be self-administered subcutaneously once a month. The first three doses are weekly and monthly four weeks onwards.
Is There A Generic Version of Kesimpta?
No. For now, there is no generic version of Kesimpta available in Canada.
It is a biological drug made from living cells. As it is impossible to copy living cells in a lab, these drugs do not have a generic form. They instead have biosimilar medicine.
A biosimilar drug is equally safe and effective to the original medicine.
However, Kesimpta is not currently available, even in biosimilar form.
How Is Kesimpta Different from Others In The Treatment Of Multiple Sclerosis?
Kesimpta was initially used to manage chronic lymphocytic leukemia, a type of bone marrow and blood cancer. But it was approved to treat MS after its efficacy in various studies.
It is seen that Kesimpta is more effective in preventing relapses than other medicines used, such as Aubagio. It showed a better reduction in active MRI-detected lesions and fewer enlarging or new lesions.
Who Makes Kesimpta and What Is Their Manufacturing Record of Success?
Novartis, a global biopharmaceutical company, makes Kesimpta. They are a global leader in immunology and aim to improve the lives of people with immunological disorders. They are exceptionally successful in manufacturing products and expand treatment possibilities.