How is Zelboraf Used?
Zelboraf is typically taken twice daily, with 12 hours between each dose. Most patients take a standard dose of four tablets (960 mg) twice per day. This medication may be taken with or without food, but patients should remain consistent regarding the manner in which they take Zelboraf (i.e., if you take it with food, it should be taken with food each time a dose is consumed). The tablets should not be chewed or crushed, and this medication should not be taken with grapefruit juice.
If a patient has vomited after taking a dose, they should not take an additional dose of the medication and should simply proceed with taking their next scheduled dose.
Patients should take Zelboraf exactly as prescribed by their physician to ensure maximum safety and efficacy and minimize the potential for side effects.
Zelboraf should be stored at room temperature within the range of 68°F (20°C) and 77°F (25°C). This medication may temporarily be allowed to reach a low temperature of 59°F (15°C) or a high temperature of 86°F (30°C).
Keep this medication out of the reach of children at all times.
Zelboraf should be stored in its original container, and patients should ensure that the lid remains tightly closed when not in use.
Zelboraf is prescribed for the treatment of:
- melanoma (with BRAF gene mutation)
- Erdheim-Chester disease (with BRAF gene mutation)
How Does Zelboraf Work?
Zelboraf is an antineoplastic medication that is, more specifically, a BRAF inhibitor. In patients that have melanoma or ECD with certain BRAF mutations, Zelboraf functions by inhibiting the activity of the mutated BRAF gene. By stopping the action of this abnormal gene, Zelboraf is able to stop the cell division leading to the conditions spreading, and it may also shrink melanoma tumors.
Zelboraf is available in tablet form with only one strength of 240 mg.
The most common dosage is four of the 240 mg tablets (960 mg) taken twice daily.
Patients using Zelboraf should be sure to take the medication exactly as instructed by their prescribing physician.
Patients should avoid taking more than instructed by their doctor. If an overdose has occurred or is suspected, patients should contact their local Poison Control Center or doctor for further advice.
Zelboraf is associated with a variety of common as well as serious side effects.
The most common side effects include:
- hair loss
- increased risk of sunburn occurring
- joint pain
- mild rash
- skin growths
- sun sensitivity
Some of the following serious side effects may occur when taking Zelboraf and should be reported to your prescribing physician as soon as possible:
- breathing difficulties
- burning sensation in the eyes
- clay-colored stools
- dark-colored urine
- eye swelling or pain
- fluttering sensation in the chest
- fingers bending inward
- jaundice (yellowing of the eyes or skin)
- mole changes (color or size)
- muscles aches
- new lesions or warts
- pain in the upper right side of your stomach
- purple or red skin rash that blisters, peels, and spreads
- rapid or pounding heartbeat
- red bump that doesn’t heal or that bleeds
- severe redness of the eyes
- severe weakness
- shortness of breath
- skin pain
- skin sore that bleeds or doesn’t heal
- small yellow or white patches on the eye’s surface
- sore throat
- sudden dizziness
- swollen glands
- swelling of the throat, tongue, lips, or face
- tightness of the fingers
- unusual bruising
- unusual thickening of the tissues underneath the skin of the soles of your feet or your palms
- vision changes
Warnings & Precautions
Zelboraf is associated with a number of different risks. Patients should be sure to discuss their medical history and any other medication use before beginning treatment with this medication.
Severe allergic reactions are possible in those who are taking Zelboraf. If you are taking Zelboraf and experience symptoms such as difficulty breathing, a swollen throat or face, flu-like symptoms, skin blistering or a rash, swollen glands, or jaundice, seek emergency attention immediately.
Changes in Heart Rhythm
Zelboraf is capable of impacting the electrical activity that occurs within a patient’s heart, and this may lead to abnormalities in heart rhythm. The risk of this condition, referred to as QT prolongation, is further increased in individuals also using tacrolimus, arsenic trioxide, pentamidine, mefloquine, moxifloxacin, pimozide, chlorpromazine, thioridazine, quinidine, or sotalol for treatment. The following factors place patients at a notably higher risk of QT prolongation when using Zelboraf: being over the age of 65 years, being female, having a slow heart rate, having a family history of abnormal heart rhythms or heart disease, diabetes, nutritional deficiencies, history of stroke, congenital prolongation of the QT interval, low levels of calcium, low levels of magnesium, and low levels of potassium.
Development of Other Cancers
Zelboraf comes with the risk of patients potentially developing additional cancers, as well as having the medication speed up the progression of certain pancreatic and blood cancers. Patients using Zelboraf will typically be monitored for such conditions occurring, and those with a history of cancers besides the ones for which they are using Zelboraf should inform their physician to ensure they are receiving the safest possible dosage of the medication for their current treatment.
Zelboraf may cause inflammation within a patient’s eye and cause blood vessel blockages to develop. Any changes in vision or other eye-related symptoms should be reported to the patient’s prescribing physician immediately.
Patients should not eat grapefruit or consume grapefruit juice while taking Zelboraf, as this fruit impacts the excretion of Zelboraf from the body. Drinking grapefruit juice or consuming the fruit itself while taking Zelboraf may result in a buildup of the medication within the body and lead to serious side effects.
Zelboraf is associated with increased blood pressure, and this factor will be monitored by your doctor throughout treatment. Patients with preexisting high blood pressure should discuss their history of hypertension with their physician before beginning treatment with Zelboraf.
Zelboraf use may result in impaired kidney function, and it may also cause kidney failure in some individuals. Patients with a history of kidney-related health conditions should be sure to discuss this with their physician before beginning treatment with Zelboraf, as this may impact the dosage and efficacy of Zelboraf.
Zelboraf may impair liver function in some individuals and may even cause liver failure, which can be fatal. Patients that experience any of the following symptoms of reduced liver function should contact their prescribing physician as soon as possible: appetite loss, nausea, jaundice, feeling unwell, fatigue, itchy skin, pale stools, abdominal swelling, or abdominal pain.
Zelboraf is associated with a high risk of skin changes, including some that may be serious, such as cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma and new melanoma. Any changes in the patient’s skin while using it should be reported to their prescribing physician immediately.
This medication also causes sun sensitivity, resulting in an increased risk of developing sunburns which may be severe. Protective measures, such as protective clothing and sunscreen, should be used when taking Zelboraf and going outdoors.
Patients using it are at an increased risk of developing burns if also receiving radiation therapy. Patients currently undergoing radiation treatment are advised against using it. Additionally, patients that have received radiation treatment before may experience past treatment areas becoming inflamed in response to treatment. This is a condition referred to as radiation recall.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Zelboraf is capable of harming an unborn child if used by a patient that is pregnant. This medication should not be used by pregnant individuals unless the benefits of Zelboraf have been determined to be greater than the potential risks. Patients it should avoid pregnancy during treatment and continue to take measures to avoid becoming pregnant for at least six months after stopping the medication. Patients that become pregnant during treatment should report this to their physician immediately.
The safety for breastfeeding patients has not been determined. It is advised that patients who are breastfeeding or desiring to breastfeed while using Zelboraf speak with their physician about the potential risks involved.
Speak to your doctor about any medications or herbal supplements you are currently taking before beginning treatment. Discuss any concerns you may have with your doctor or a trusted pharmacist.
The following medications and substances are known to interact with Zelboraf: