Mesothelioma Drug Causes Skin Pain

Recent research suggests that an adverse skin reaction to the only drug FDA-approved to treat malignant pleural mesothelioma is too much to rule out or overlook.  Pemetrexed, more commonly known by its brand name Alimta, can cause a pain in the skin, and per French researchers, it should be recognized as a side effect of the medication.

What is Pemetrexed?

Clinically developed by Eli Lilly and Company in 2004, pemetrexed is a chemotherapy drug used to treat both malignant pleural mesothelioma and non-small cell lung cancer. For malignant pleural mesothelioma treatment, the FDA approved pemetrexed to be taken in combination with cisplatin, a type of chemotherapy medication.  The approval came in Sept. 2008 for advanced and metastatic cancerous cells.  Some physicians recommended pemetrexed in combination with carboplatin, a chemotherapy drug, for the treatment of advanced lung cancer.

Pemetrexed works by hindering three enzymes, which in turn assists in preventing the growth of cancerous cells. Mesothelioma patients are generally given supplements of folic acid and Vitamin B12 during treatment.

Side Effect Recently Discovered

Researchers and scientists indicate that there are various side effects of the medication, but one of the most recent documented side effects, is one that was not yet publicized until recently, in the   Annales de Dermatologie et de Venereologie. 

According to the report, researchers from Perigueux, France’s Perigueux Hospital show the side effects of two different mesothelioma patients who took pemetrexed-cisplatin and who both developed skin pain.

The first patient, described as a 66-year-old male, began noticing a pain, swelling, and redness in one leg, which then transferred to both legs. The 2nd patient, described as a 70-year-old female, had the same issues as the male, yet her problems continued to grow until she had great difficulties in walking. However, the pain subsided for both patients once pemetrexed treatment was stopped.

One of the problems in identifying painful skin as a side effect of the medication as that it’s often been confused with a type of skin bacterial infection.

“This cutaneous adverse effect is unrecognized, resulting in delayed diagnosis,” wrote one of the study’s authors.

Additional Side Effects of Pemetrexed

As mentioned earlier, there are a number of pemetrexed side effects that were already known, including:

  • Sleepiness and mental fogginess
  • Low blood cell counts
  • Appetite loss
  • Oral Ulcers
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Pale skin
  • Mood changes
  • Joint and/or muscle pain
  • Confusion
  • Weight loss

With so many adverse side effects, it may seem confusing as to why doctors choose this type of medication for people who are already suffering with the devastating side effects that having a disease such as mesothelioma brings. Yet, experts point out that pemetrexed is prescribed for patients in which surgery to remove the cancerous tumors is no longer an option.

When a mesothelioma patient enters into the advanced stages of the disease, several factors are looked at before deciding if surgery is a viable option, such as general health, age, and more. For those who cannot undergo surgery, the next best choice may be pemetrexed. In addition, although the side effects can be severe, the pros of pemetrexed include:

  • Disease stabilization
  • Longer chances of survival
  • Increased chances of anticancer responses

Natural Remedies to Help Reduce Side Effects

As aforementioned, folic acid and Vitamin B12 are often recommended while taking pemetrexed. This not only helps with side effects, but also helps serves as additional supplements. Other natural remedies for malignant mesothelioma include:

  • Fruits and green, leafy vegetables
  • Acupuncture
  • Astralagus
  • Meditation and yoga
  • Vitamin C
  • Cat’s Claw

Emerging, new treatments for mesothelioma include:

  • Photodynamic therapy
  • Immunotherapy clinical trials
  • New forms of delivering radiation
  • Clinical trials for the effects of Avastin in combination with pemetrexed

Keep in mind that if you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma or any other asbestos-related illness, you may eligible for substantial compensation. Right now there is more than $30 billion available in asbestos trust funds, set up for those who have been injured by asbestos. Feel free to contact our mesothelioma attorneys today for more information and for a no-obligation, confidential legal consultation.


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