Brand Names

Thalidomid®, (There may be other brand names for this medication)

How is it Administered?

Thalidomide comes as a capsule. You must swallow it whole..

What is it Used For?

Thalidomide is used to treat multiple myeloma, a cancer that begins in the plasma cells in the bone marrow.

Thalidomide must not be taken by women who are pregnant or who could become pregnant while taking this medication. Even a single dose taken during pregnancy can cause severe birth defects or death of the unborn baby.

A program called STEPS (System for Thalidomide Education and Prescribing Safety) registers patients taking thalidomide and monitors the doctors that prescribe it and the pharmacists that dispense it. This helps ensure that everyone is adhering to established safety guidelines.

Everyone who is prescribed thalidomide, including men and women who cannot become pregnant, must be registered with S.T.E.P.S.®

How Does Thalidomide Work?

Thalidomide is not a traditional chemotherapy drug, it is a form of immunotherapy. Exactly how it works against cancer cells is not yet known. Clinical studies suggest that thalidomide may work in multiple ways and at multiple sites within the bone marrow to stop or slow the growth of myeloma cells.

Thalidomide is both an immunomodulatory agent and an anti-angiogenic agent.

  • An immunomodulatory agent helps your immune system to attack the cancer.
  • An anti-angiogenic agent interferes with the cancer’s ability to build the new blood vessels it needs to grow.

Thalidomide may also reduce the ability of bone marrow to make substances (cytokines) that promote the growth of cancer cells.

Thalidomide affects both myeloma cells and how your body supports their growth. Reducing the number of myeloma cells may allow normal blood cells to grow.

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