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FAQs about Proleukin

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This section provides healthcare professionals with answers to questions about Proleukin.
What is Proleukin?

Proleukin (aldesleukin) for injection is a recombinant version of interleukin-2 (IL-2), an endogenous cytokine that has multiple effects on immune response.1,2 Learn more.

How does Proleukin work?

Proleukin is a T-cell growth factor that causes widespread activation of the immune system to better recognize and kill cancer cells.3 Learn more.

Who may benefit the most from Proleukin?

Overall health status has been shown to correlate with how well patients will respond to Proleukin. Nearly all the patients in the Proleukin clinical trials had an Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) performance status (PS) of 0 or 1.4,5,* Learn more.

*mRCC: PS 0 = 65% and PS 1 = 31%; mM: PS 0 = 71% and PS 1 = 27%.4,5

Have Proleukin patients been able to achieve durable complete responses?

Yes. In clinical trials, Proleukin has demonstrated over 10 years of durable complete responses in some mRCC and mM patients. Complete response rates achieved were 7% in mRCC patients and 6% in mM patients.3,6,7 Learn more.

What possible side effects are associated with Proleukin?

Proleukin administration has been associated with capillary leak syndrome (CLS). CLS is associated with swelling that is caused by fluids leaking out of blood vessels into surrounding tissues. If CLS is not treated promptly, it may cause a drop in blood pressure and decreased flow of blood to the organs, and, subsequently, changes in heartbeat rhythms, severe chest pain, difficulty breathing, heart attack, decreased kidney function, and, possibly, coma. Other side effects that may occur include sudden low blood pressure, diarrhea, chills, nausea, confusion, scanty urination, and rash. In general, adverse events are frequent, often serious, and sometimes fatal.3
Please see full Prescribing Information, including boxed warning, for further details.
Side effects associated with Proleukin therapy vary, and rarely, if ever, do individual patients experience every potential side effect associated with treatment.

Are most treatment-related side effects reversible?

Yes. Most treatment-related side effects are rapidly reversible. These side effects can be managed at specialized IL-2 (Proleukin) Treatment Centers, and most improve within 2 to 3 days of discontinuing therapy.3-5

Are long-term side effects common with Proleukin?

No. Long-term sequelae associated with Proleukin are extremely rare.5

Why can't I administer Proleukin in my office?

Proleukin therapy must be administered in a hospital setting where physicians and nurses are highly experienced in administering IL-2 therapy.3

Will I be updated about my patients during treatment with Proleukin?

Yes. The specialized IL-2 Treatment Center team keeps you updated while your patient is receiving treatment with Proleukin.

Will insurance cover Proleukin?

Proleukin is an FDA-approved treatment for mRCC and mM patients. Most private insurance will pay for treatment; however, the precise amount covered may vary by plan. As with any cancer therapy, always check with the patient's insurance company to verify coverage.

References: 1. Jarkowski A III, Wong MKK. A re-assessment of the safety and efficacy of interleukin-2 for the treatment of renal cell carcinoma. Clin Med Ther. 2009;1:527-540. 2. Bosco MC, Curiel RE, Zea AH, Malabarba MG, Ortaldo JR, Espinoza-Delgado I. IL-2 signaling in human monocytes involves the phosphorylation and activation of p59hck. J Immunol. 2000;164(9):4575-4585. 3. Proleukin [package insert]. Yardley, PA: Clinigen, Inc; 2019. 4. Fyfe G, Fisher RI, Rosenberg SA, Sznol M, Parkinson DR, Louie AC. Results of treatment of 255 patients with metastatic renal cell carcinoma who received high-dose recombinant interleukin-2 therapy. J Clin Oncol. 1995;13(3):688-696. 5. Atkins MB, Lotze MT, Dutcher JP, et al. High-dose recombinant interleukin 2 therapy for patients with metastatic melanoma: analysis of 270 patients treated between 1985 and 1993. J Clin Oncol. 1999;17(7):2105-2116. 6. Fisher RI, Rosenberg SA, Fyfe G. Long-term survival update for high-dose recombinant interleukin-2 in patients with renal cell carcinoma. Cancer J Sci Am. 2000;6(suppl 1):S55-S57. 7. Atkins MB, Kunkel L, Sznol M, Rosenberg SA. High-dose recombinant interleukin-2 therapy in patients with metastatic melanoma: long-term survival update. Cancer J Sci Am. 2000;6(suppl 1):S11-S14.

EXPAND +

Proleukin® (aldesleukin) is indicated for the treatment of adults with metastatic melanoma (mM) and metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC).

Summary of Important Safety Information for Proleukin® (aldesleukin) for injection, for intravenous infusion.

Proleukin® (aldesleukin) is indicated for the treatment of adults with metastatic melanoma (mM) and metastatic renal cell carcinoma (mRCC).

Summary of Important Safety Information for Proleukin® (aldesleukin) for injection, for intravenous infusion.

WARNINGS

Therapy with Proleukin® (aldesleukin) should be restricted to patients with normal cardiac and pulmonary functions as defined by thallium stress testing and formal pulmonary function testing. Extreme caution should be used in patients with a normal thallium stress test and a normal pulmonary function test who have a history of cardiac or pulmonary disease.

Proleukin should be administered in a hospital setting under the supervision of a qualified physician experienced in the use of anticancer agents. An intensive care facility and specialists skilled in cardiopulmonary or intensive care medicine must be available.

Proleukin administration has been associated with capillary leak syndrome (CLS) which is characterized by a loss of vascular tone and extravasation of plasma proteins and fluid into the extravascular space. CLS results in hypotension and reduced organ perfusion which may be severe and can result in death. CLS may be associated with cardiac arrhythmias (supraventricular and ventricular), angina, myocardial infarction, respiratory insufficiency requiring intubation, gastrointestinal bleeding or infarction, renal insufficiency, edema, and mental status changes.

Proleukin treatment is associated with impaired neutrophil function (reduced chemotaxis) and with an increased risk of disseminated infection, including sepsis and bacterial endocarditis. Consequently, preexisting bacterial infections should be adequately treated prior to initiation of Proleukin therapy. Patients with indwelling central lines are particularly at risk for infection with gram positive microorganisms. Antibiotic prophylaxis with oxacillin, nafcillin, ciprofloxacin, or vancomycin has been associated with a reduced incidence of staphylococcal infections.

Proleukin administration should be withheld in patients developing moderate to severe lethargy or somnolence; continued administration may result in coma.

INDICATION AND USAGE

Proleukin® (aldesleukin) is indicated for the treatment of adults with metastatic renal cell carcinoma (metastatic RCC).

Proleukin is indicated for the treatment of adults with metastatic melanoma.

Careful patient selection is mandatory prior to the administration of Proleukin.

Evaluation of clinical studies to date reveals that patients with more favorable ECOG performance status (ECOG PS 0) at treatment initiation respond better to Proleukin, with a higher response rate and lower toxicity. Therefore, selection of patients for treatment should include assessment of performance status.

Experience in patients with ECOG PS > 1 is extremely limited.

CONTRAINDICATIONS

Proleukin® (aldesleukin) is contraindicated in patients with a known history of hypersensitivity to interleukin-2 or any component of the Proleukin formulation.

Proleukin is contraindicated in patients with an abnormal thallium stress test or abnormal pulmonary function tests and those with organ allografts. Retreatment with Proleukin is contraindicated in patients who have experienced the following drug-related toxicities while receiving an earlier course of therapy: sustained ventricular tachycardia (≥ 5 beats), cardiac arrhythmias not controlled or unresponsive to management, chest pain with ECG changes, consistent with angina or myocardial infarction, cardiac tamponade, intubation for > 72 hours, renal failure requiring dialysis > 72 hours, coma or toxic psychosis lasting > 48 hours, repetitive or difficult to control seizures, bowel ischemia/perforation, GI bleeding requiring surgery.

WARNINGS

Because of the severe adverse events which generally accompany Proleukin® (aldesleukin) therapy at the recommended dosages, thorough clinical evaluation should be performed to identify patients with significant cardiac, pulmonary, renal, hepatic, or CNS impairment in whom Proleukin is contraindicated. Patients with normal cardiovascular, pulmonary, hepatic, and CNS function may experience serious, life-threatening or fatal adverse events. Adverse events are frequent, often serious, and sometimes fatal.

Should adverse events, requiring dose modification occur, dosage should be withheld rather than reduced.

Proleukin has been associated with exacerbation of preexisting autoimmune disease and inflammatory disorders. In some cases, the onset of new autoimmune diseases, such as vitiligo, may occur. Symptomatic hyperglycemia and/or diabetes mellitus have been reported during Proleukin therapy.

All patients should have thorough evaluation and treatment of CNS metastases and have a negative scan prior to receiving Proleukin therapy. New neurologic signs, symptoms, and anatomic lesions following Proleukin therapy have been reported in patients without evidence of CNS metastases. Neurologic signs and symptoms associated with Proleukin therapy usually improve after discontinuation of Proleukin therapy; however, there are reports of permanent neurologic defects. In patients with known seizure disorders, extreme caution should be exercised as Proleukin may cause seizures.

PRECAUTIONS

Patients should have normal cardiac, pulmonary, hepatic, and CNS function at the start of therapy. Capillary leak syndrome (CLS) begins immediately after Proleukin® (aldesleukin) treatment starts and is marked by increased capillary permeability to protein and fluids and reduced vascular tone.

Proleukin® (aldesleukin) treatment should be withheld for failure to maintain organ perfusion as demonstrated by altered mental status, reduced urine output, a fall in the systolic blood pressure below 90 mm Hg or onset of cardiac arrhythmias.

Recovery from CLS begins soon after cessation of Proleukin therapy. Usually, within a few hours, the blood pressure rises, organ perfusion is restored and reabsorption of extravasated fluid and protein begins.

Kidney and liver function are impaired during Proleukin treatment. Use of concomitant nephrotoxic or hepatotoxic medications may further increase toxicity to the kidney or liver.

Mental status changes including irritability, confusion, or depression which occur while receiving Proleukin may be due to bacteremia or early bacterial sepsis, hypoperfusion, occult CNS malignancy, or direct Proleukin-induced CNS toxicity. Patients should be evaluated for these and other causes of mental status changes. Alterations in mental status due solely to Proleukin therapy may progress for several days before recovery begins. Rarely, patients have sustained permanent neurologic deficits.

Proleukin enhancement of cellular immune function may increase the risk of allograft rejection in transplant patients.

Serious manifestations of eosinophilia involving eosinophilic infiltration of cardiac and pulmonary tissues can occur following Proleukin.

ADVERSE REACTIONS

The rate of drug-related deaths in the 255 metastatic RCC patients who received single-agent Proleukin® (aldesleukin) was 4% (11/255); the rate of drug-related deaths in the 270 metastatic melanoma patients who received single-agent Proleukin was 2% (6/270).

In clinical trials, the following life-threatening (Grade 4) adverse events were seen in > 1% of 525 patients (255 with metastatic renal cell cancer and 270 with metastatic melanoma) treated with Proleukin: oliguria (6%), anuria (5%), hypotension (3%), respiratory disorder (3%), bilirubinemia (2%), coma (2%), diarrhea (2%), acidosis (1%), acute kidney failure (1%), apnea (1%), cardiovascular disorder (1%), coagulation disorders (1%), confusion (1%), creatinine increase (1%), dyspnea (1%), fever (1%), heart arrest (1%), infection (1%), myocardial infarction (1%), psychosis (1%), sepsis (1%), SGOT increase (1%), stupor (1%), supraventricular tachycardia (1%), thrombocytopenia (1%), ventricular tachycardia (1%), and vomiting (1%). From the same trials, the following adverse events (Grades 1-4) were seen in ≥ 30% of 525 patients (255 with metastatic renal cell cancer and 270 with metastatic melanoma) treated with Proleukin: hypotension (71%), diarrhea (67%), oliguria (63%), chills (52%), vomiting (50%), dyspnea (43%), rash (42%), bilirubinemia (40%), thrombocytopenia (37%), nausea (35%), confusion (34%), and creatinine increase (33%).

Please see the full Prescribing Information, including Boxed Warning, for Proleukin® (aldesleukin) for injection, for intravenous infusion.

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

The content contained in this website is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice related to any topic discussed. Patients are urged to consult with their treating physicians or other professionals. Never disregard professional, medical, or legal advice or delay seeking such advice because of something you have read on this website.