Denileukin Diftitox (Generic Name)

Other Names: Ontak™

About this drug

Denileukin diftitox is used to treat cancer. It is given intravenously (IV).

Possible side effects

Serious allergic reaction may occur during the time you are receiving this drug by IV infusion. Tell your doctor or nurse immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty catching your breath
  • Feeling like your tongue or throat is swelling
  • Feeling your heart beat rapidly (palpitations)
  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Flushing
    Less serious reaction to this drug may occur during the infusion. You will be given medicine to help prevent or lessen these symptoms. Your vital signs will be monitored during the infusion. Tell your doctor or nurse immediately if you have any of the following symptoms at any time during the infusion or for the first 24 hours after the infusion:
  • Fever, chills, or shaking chills
  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Headache
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Muscle and joint aches


Possible side effects after the drug is given:

  • Chest pain
  • Blood clots (rare). A blood clot in your leg may cause your leg to swell, appear red, or feel warm. It may cause pain. A blood clot in your lungs may cause shortness of breath, pain when breathing, or chest pain.
  • Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea. These side effects usually are more severe during the first 2 courses of therapy.
  • Rash
  • Decreased appetite
  • Weakness
  • Swelling of the face, hands, legs, or feet
  • Changes in liver enzymes. Blood tests will be used to check your liver enzymes as needed.
  • Effects on an unborn child. This drug may have harmful effects on an unborn child. Use effective methods of birth control during your cancer treatment. Genetic counseling is available to you to discuss the effect of this drug therapy on future pregnancies. If you are pregnant or become

Treating side effects

  • Ask your doctor or nurse about medicines that help prevent or lessen nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or pain in your joints and muscles.
  • Do not put anything on your rash unless your doctor or nurse says you may. Keep the area around the rash clean and dry.
    Other instructions
  • Record your weight each day. Look for swelling in your face, hands, legs, or feet.

Food and drug interactions

There are no known interactions of denileukin diftitox with food. This drug may interact with other medicine. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the medicines and dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs, and others) that you are currently taking. The safety and effectiveness of dietary supplements and alternative diets are often unknown. Using these might unexpectedly affect your cancer or interfere with your treatment. Until more is known, you should not use dietary supplements or alternative diets without your cancer doctor’s advice.

When to call the doctor

Call your doctor or nurse immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain when breathing
  • Leg pain, cramping, swelling, redness, or warmth
  • Temperature of 100.5 F (38 C) or above


Call your doctor or nurse as soon as possible if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Weight gain or loss of 3 to 5 pounds over a 1- to 2-day period
  • Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, or pain in your joints or muscles that is unrelieved by prescribed medicines
  • Rash that is bothersome
  • Persistent loss of appetite
  • Weakness that interferes with normal activities

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