Posted on December 3rd, 2008 by
Class: Supportive care
Generic Name: Dolasetron (dol-ASE-tron)
Trade Name: Anzemet®
For which conditions is this drug approved? Dolasetron belongs to a group of drugs called antiemetics. Dolasetron is FDA approved for the prevention of nausea and vomiting associated with some types of chemotherapy. It is also approved for the prevention and treatment of nausea and vomiting after surgery. It is important for patients to remember that physicians have the ability to prescribe medication for conditions other than those for which the drug has been approved by the FDA. Patients who have received a prescription of this drug for a condition other than which it is approved may wish to discuss this issue with their physician.
What is the mechanism of action? Dolasetron works by blocking the effects of serotonin, a chemical produced by the body that is present in the brain.
How is dolasetron typically given (administered)? Dolasetron can be given orally or intravenously (into a vein) and the dose depends on several factors, including the condition being treated, the size of the patient, the particular regimen being used and the overall health of the patient. Once the drug is given, it will clear from the patient's body through the kidneys.
How are patients typically monitored? Patients will usually have scheduled meetings with their healthcare provider while they are being treated with dolasetron. Typically, blood will be drawn to check levels of blood cells and to monitor functions of some organ systems, such as the kidneys or liver. Blood pressure may be monitored. Heart function may be monitored in patients with cardiovascular disease.
What are the common side effects of treatment with dolasetron?
• Diarrhea - if this persists, dehydration may occur
• Taste alterations
• Changes in blood pressure
• Dizziness or lightheadedness
• Change in heart rhythm
This is not a complete list of side effects. Some patients may experience other side effects that are not listed here. Patients may wish to discuss with their physician the other less common side effects of this drug, some of which may be serious.
Some side effects may require medical attention. Other side effects do not require medical attention and may go away during treatment. Patients should check with their physician about any side effects that continue or are bothersome.
What can patients do to help alleviate or prevent discomfort and side effects?
• Pay careful attention to the physician’s instructions and inform the physician of any side effects.
• Maintain adequate rest and nutrition.
• Wear sunscreen and protective clothing and try to minimize sun exposure.
• Drink plenty of fluids. (Patients should ask their physician about the amount of liquid to consume during a day.)
Are there any special precautions patients should be aware of before starting treatment?
• Patients should inform their physician if they are pregnant, breastfeeding or planning a family in the near future. This drug may cause birth defects. It is important to use some kind of birth control while undergoing treatment. Also, patients may want to talk to their physician if they are considering having children in the future, since some drugs may cause fertility problems.
• It is important that patients inform their physician of any pre-existing conditions (chicken pox, heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, lung disease, etc.) as they may worsen with this drug.
• Patients should inform their physician of any other medication they are taking (whether prescription or over-the-counter, including vitamins, herbs, etc.) as they may interfere with treatment.
• Patients should check with their physician before starting any new drug or nutritional supplement.
• Patients should inform their physician of any known drug or food allergies or any reactions to medications they have experienced in the past.
When should patients notify their physician?
• Severe pain
• Irregular heart beat
• Change in breathing
• Severe fatigue or bleeding
• Yellowing of the skin or eyes
• Extreme weight loss
What is a package insert?
A package insert is required by the FDA and contains a summary of the essential scientific information needed for the safe and effective use of the drug for healthcare providers and consumers. A package insert typically includes information regarding specific indications, administration schedules, dosing, side effects, contraindications, results from some clinical trials, chemical structure, pharmacokinetics and metabolism of the specific drug. By carefully reviewing the package insert, you will get the most complete and current information about how to safely use this drug. If you do not have the package insert for the drug you are using, your pharmacist or physician may be able to provide you with a copy.
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