Why is this medication prescribed?
Pentamidine is an anti-infective agent that helps to treat or prevent pneumonia caused by the organism Pneumocystis jiroveci (carinii).
This medication is sometimes prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
How should this medicine be used?
Pentamidine comes as a solution to be inhaled using a nebulizer. It usually is used once every 4 weeks. Inhalation of pentamidine delivers the drug directly to your lungs. Your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist will show you how to use the nebulizer. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take pentamidine exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before taking pentamidine,
- tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to pentamidine or any other drugs.
- tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications you are taking or have recently taken, especially antibiotics, amphotericin B (Fungizone), cisplatin (Platinol), foscarnet (Foscavir), and vitamins.
- tell your doctor if you have or have ever had asthma; hay fever; high or low blood pressure; diabetes; high or low blood sugar; anemia; severe skin allergic reaction; or heart, kidney, liver, or pancreatic disease.
- tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking pentamidine, call your doctor.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Pentamidine may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- metallic taste
- burning sensation in your throat
- decreased appetite
- lightheadedness or faintness
- upset stomach
- night sweats or chills
If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately:
- chest pain
- abnormal heartbeat
- shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- skin rash
- slurred speech
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?
Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom).
Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA's Safe Disposal of Medicines website (http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location – one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org
In case of emergency/overdose
In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can't be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.
What other information should I know?
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order certain lab tests to check your response to pentamidine.
You may develop a cough while using aerosol pentamidine. The cough may be more severe if you smoke or have a history of asthma. If you experience cough or difficulty breathing, call your doctor. Your doctor may suggest slowing the aerosol stream or may prescribe a bronchodilator (medication that opens the airways) to use before your pentamidine inhalation.
Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.
It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.