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Pentamidine

Antifungal

Brand names:

Pentam®, NebuPent®

Often used for:

Fungal infections

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What is Pentamidine?

Pentamidine is an antifungal medication used to prevent or treat Pneumocystis pneumonia (also known as PCP or PJP pneumonia). PCP/PJP pneumonia is a lung infection caused by the fungus Pneumocystis jirovecii. Patients with weak immune systems are at highest risk. Pentamidine is usually given to patients who cannot take Sulfamethoxazole/Trimethoprim (SMX/TMP, Bactrim®, Septra®).

Patients receiving pentamidine may have regular blood draws to check blood counts, blood glucose, and electrolyte levels and monitor liver and kidney function. Blood pressure and heart function may also be monitored.

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May be given as a liquid into a vein by IV

 
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May be given as a liquid injected into a muscle (IM)

 
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May be given in inhaled form by nebulizer or inhaler device

 
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Possible Side Effects

Possible side effects with injection:

  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bad or metallic taste in the mouth
  • Skin irritation at the injection site
  • Skin rash, redness, or peeling
  • Low blood pressure
  • Changes in blood sugar
  • Changes in heart rhythm
  • Liver problems
  • Allergic reactions
  • Pancreatitis

Possible side effects with inhaled medicine:

  • Cough, shortness of breath
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of appetite
  • Bad or metallic taste in the mouth
  • Throat irritation
  • Hoarse voice
  • Diarrhea
  • Fatigue, weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Night sweats
  • Fever

Not all patients who take pentamidine will experience these side effects. Common side effects are in bold, but there may be others. Please report all suspected side effects to your doctor or pharmacist.

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Tips for Families

Be sure to discuss these and other recommendations with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • When given to prevent PCP pneumonia, pentamidine is usually given every 3-4 weeks. It is important to follow the treatment schedule for the best protection.
  • The inhaled form of pentamidine is given as a breathing treatment using a nebulizer. The breathing treatment normally lasts about 30-45 minutes.
  • Patients should tell their doctor if they are pregnant or breastfeeding.