Immune Globulin Intravenous (IVIG) (Generic Name)

Other Names: Carimune; Gammagard S/D, Gamunex

About This Drug

IVIG is made up of antibodies called immunoglobulins. It is used to prevent or reduce the severity of infections in people with weakened immunity. Also, it is given to increase platelets in people with idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (ITP). This drug is given intravenously (IV).

Possible Side Effects (More Common)

  • Phlebitis, which is redness and tenderness of a vein.
  • You could experience changes in your blood pressure. Your blood pressure will be monitored as needed.
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Headache
  • Tiredness
  • Weakness
  • Backache
  • Joint and muscle pain
  • Rash or itchiness

Possible Side Effects (Less Common)

  • This medication can put you at risk for developing blood clots. A blood clot in your leg may cause your leg to swell, appear red and warm, and/or cause pain. A blood clot in your lungs may cause shortness of breath, pain when breathing, and/or chest pain.
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • This drug may affect how your kidneys work. Your kidney function will be checked as needed.
  • Virus or other infection (rare); IVIG manufacturers have an excellent record of making this drug safe.

Reproduction Concerns

  • Pregnancy warning : It is not known if this drug may have harmful effects on an unborn child.  For this reason, be sure to speak with your doctor if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant while receiving this drug.
  • Speak with your doctor or nurse if you plan to have children.  Ask for information on sperm or egg banking.
  • Genetic counseling is available to you to discuss the effects of this drug therapy on future pregnancies. In addition, a genetic counselor can review the potential risks of problems in the fetus due to this medication if an exposure during pregnancy has occurred.
  • Breast feeding warning: It is not known if this drug passes into breast milk.  For this reason, women are advised to discuss with their doctor the risks and benefits of breast feeding during treatment with this drug.

Treating Side Effects 

  • Drink 6-8 cups of fluids every day unless your doctor has told you to restrict your fluid intake due to another medical condition. A cup is 8 ounces of fluid. If you vomit or have diarrhea, you should drink more fluids so that you do not become dehydrated.
  • Ask your doctor or nurse about medication that is available to help prevent or lessen joint, muscle, or back pain.
  • Ask your doctor or nurse about medication that is available to help prevent or lessen nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, nasal congestion and/or sinus symptoms.
  • Do not put anything on a rash unless your doctor or nurse says you may. Keep the area around the rash clean and dry.
  • Vaginal lubricants can be used to lessen vaginal dryness, itching, and pain during sexual relations.
  • During the IV infusion, if you experience pain, redness, or swelling at the site of the IV infusion, please tell your nurse immediately.

Important instructions

Let your doctor know if you have had any recent vaccinations. Talk to your doctor before receiving vaccines during or after treatment with IVIG.

Food and Drug Interactions

There are no known interactions of IVIG with food. This drug may interact with other medication. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the medication 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.

Allergic Reactions

Allergic reactions including anaphylaxis are rare but may occur in some patients. 
While you are receiving this drug by IV, tell your doctor or nurse immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Difficulty catching your breath or wheezing
  • Feeling as if your tongue or throat is swelling
  • Feeling your heart beat rapidly (palpitations)
  • Flushing, itching, rash, or hives
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness or light-headedness

When to Call the Doctor

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

  • Temperature of 100.5 F (38.0 C) or above
  • Chills
  • Chest tightness, trouble breathing, or wheezing
  • Shortness of breath or pain when taking a breath
  • Severe headache or neck stiffness
  • Chest pain; Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that
    lasts more than a few minutes. The discomfort may go away and come back. t can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. Sometimes discomfort is felt in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach. If these symptoms last more than 3 to 5 minutes, call 9-1-1 immediately.
  • Sudden numbness or weakness of your face, arm, or leg, especially on one side of your body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking, or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Black or tarry stools

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

  • Nausea or vomiting which prevents you from drinking plenty of fluids
  • Trouble urinating or urinating less often
  • Headache, joint, muscle, or back pain that is unrelieved by prescribed medications
  • Extreme tiredness or weakness that interferes with daily activities
  • Pain or redness around the vein used for the intravenous infusion
  • Rash that is bothersome
  • Leg that is swollen, red, warm, or painful

Revised March 2013

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