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  • Generic Name: (bexarotene)
    Other Brands: N/A
  • Last Revised: 09/2014
    • What is this medication and its most common uses?

      Targretin gel is a topical medicine (applied directly on the skin) used to treat skin problems in people with a type of skin cancer called cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) who have not responded to or cannot tolerate other treatments.

    • What should I know when beginning and continuing on this medication?

      How does this medication work?

      Targretin gel is thought to work by inhibiting the growth of cancer cells.

      What are the beneficial effects of this medication and when should I begin to have results?

      What: Targretin gel may help reduce redness, scaling, plaque elevation, or changes in skin color associated with CTCL.

      When: You may see an improvement in your skin as early as 4 weeks after starting treatment with Targretin gel. However, everyone responds differently to treatment and most people require longer application, so try to be patient and follow your healthcare provider's directions. Do not stop treatment at the first sign of improvement.

      How do I know it is working?

      You may start to notice an improvement in your skin after starting treatment with Targretin gel. This is a good indicator that your medication is working. Your healthcare provider may examine your skin regularly to check how well this medication is working.

    • What are the possible side effects of this medication?

      The following is not a full list of side effects. Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, tell your healthcare provider as soon as possible. Only your healthcare provider can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking this medication.

      More common side effects may include: rash, itching, skin disorder, pain.

      Less common side effects may include:

      Harm to your unborn baby if used during pregnancy. Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you believe or suspect you are pregnant while you are using Targretin gel and until one month after you stop using it. If you are a woman of childbearing age, you must have a pregnancy test within one week before you start treatment with Targretin gel and monthly while you are using it. You must use effective birth control starting one month before you begin treatment with Targretin gel until one month after you stop using it. It is recommended that you use two reliable forms of birth control together. Men with sexual partners who are pregnant, possibly pregnant, or who could become pregnant must use condoms during sexual intercourse while using Targretin gel and for at least one month after the last dose.

    • Who should not take this medication?

      Do not use Targretin gel if you are allergic to it or any of its ingredients.

      Do not use Targretin gel if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

    • What should I tell my healthcare provider before I take the first dose of this medication?

      Tell your healthcare provider about all prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal medications you are taking before beginning treatment with Targretin gel. Also, talk to your healthcare provider about your complete medical history, especially if you have kidney or liver problems; are allergic to similar medications (such as isotretinoin, acitretin, etretinate, or tretinoin); or if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

    • What is the usual dosage?

      The information below is based on the dosage guidelines your healthcare provider uses. Depending on your condition and medical history, your healthcare provider may prescribe a different regimen. Do not change the dosage or stop taking your medication without your healthcare provider's approval.

      Adults: Apply at an initial frequency of once every other day for the first week. Your healthcare provider may increase your dose as tolerated at weekly intervals, until the desired effect is achieved.

    • How should I take this medication?

      Use Targretin gel exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Do not apply more or use Targretin gel more often without first talking to your healthcare provider.

      Apply Targretin gel using a clean, washed finger. Place a generous coating of gel over the entire surface of each lesion. Some gel should be visible on the surface of the lesion when you are finished.

      Immediately after applying Targretin gel, wipe the finger(s) you have used to apply the gel with a disposable tissue and wash your hand using soap and water.

      Allow 5 to 10 minutes for the gel to dry before covering the treated area with clothing.

      Use a mild non-deodorant soap when bathing or showering. If you apply Targretin gel after you shower or bathe, wait 20 minutes before applying it.

    • What should I avoid while taking this medication?

      Do not become pregnant while you are using Targretin gel.

      Do not apply Targretin gel to areas of healthy skin around a CTCL lesion. Exposure of healthy skin to Targretin gel may cause unnecessary irritation or redness.

      Do not shower, bathe, or swim until at least 3 hours after applying Targretin gel.

      Do not cover the treated area with bandages or any material other than loose clothing.

      Do not expose your skin to excessive sunlight and ultraviolet lights (such as sunlamps or tanning lamps) while using Targretin gel.

      Do not use other topical products on your treated lesions without first talking to your healthcare provider.

      Do not scratch the treated areas.

      Do not take more than the recommended daily dietary allowance of vitamin A (4000 to 5000 International Units) because vitamin A in large doses may cause some side effects that are similar to those seen in people using Targretin gel.

    • What are the possible food and drug interactions associated with this medication?

      If Targretin gel is used with certain other drugs, the effects of either could be increased, decreased, or altered. It is especially important to check with your healthcare provider before combining Targretin gel with the following: DEET (a common ingredient in insect repellent products) or vitamin A supplements.

    • May I receive this medication if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

      Targretin gel may harm your unborn baby if used during pregnancy. Do not use Targretin gel if you are pregnant or breastfeeding. Tell your healthcare provider immediately if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

    • What should I do if I miss a dose of this medication?

      If you miss a dose of Targretin gel, apply it as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the one you missed and return to your regular dosing schedule. Do not apply two doses at once.

    • How should I store this medication?

      Store at room temperature. Protect from light.

      Do not expose Targretin gel to high temperatures and humidity after the tube is opened.

    • Who should I contact in case of emergency or overdose?
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      In the event of a medical emergency call your doctor or 9-1-1 immediately. In the event of overdose, call your doctor or poison control for further instructions.
      National Poison Control#: Call 1-800-222-1222

      This PDR+ drug information has been developed by the Physicians’ Desk Reference Network (PDRN), a source of medication information trusted by doctors for over 65 years.

      This monograph summarizes the most important information about your medication and does not cover all the information you may need. If you have any questions or concerns or want to learn more about your medication, ask your healthcare provider; he/she will be able to provide answers to your questions. This medication should only be used by the patient for whom it was prescribed and should not be shared with other people.
    • Additional patient resources.
      back to top Use your PDR® Pharmacy Discount Card when you or a family member fills a prescription and ask for your PDR® Discount every
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