Meds and you

27 September 2013


Doxorubicin is an antineoplastic medicine. Antineoplastics are drugs that prevent the development or growth of cancer cells.


Doxorubicin is the active ingredient of Adriblastina (Nappi code: 894042-003, 894044-001, 701254-009,), Caelyx (Nappi code: 867411-007, 899468-001) and Doxorubicin (Nappi code: 823619-002, 823627-005, 823635-008, 823643-019, 837008-019).

General information

Doxorubicin is an antineoplastic medicine. Antineoplastics are drugs that prevent the development or growth of cancer cells.

In South Africa doxorubicin is registered for the treatment of various tumors including breast and ovarian cancer, and Aids-related Kaposi's sarcoma.

This medication may cause urine to appear red for 1 - 2 days after therapy.

Women of childbearing age should avoid falling pregnant while being treated with (or for 6 months after) doxorubicin - the use of barrier contraception is therefore advised. Male patients should also avoid fathering a child while receiving doxorubicin.

How does doxorubicin work?

Doxorubicin interferes with the normal dividing and multiplying of cancer cells, thereby stopping them from multiplying uncontrollably or abnormally in the body.

Fast facts

Drug schedule: schedule 4

Available as: doxorubicin is available as an injection.

Dependence risk: low

Is doxorubicin available on prescription only? yes

User information

Onset of effect: within 10 days

Duration of action: up to 21 days

Stopping this medicine: do not stop treatment with this drug without consulting your doctor.

Special precautions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if:

  • you have liver disease
  • you have a history of heart disease
  • you are pregnant or breastfeeding
  • you have diabetes

Pregnancy: avoid. Potential risk to the foetus has been reported. Consult your doctor before use, or if you are planning to fall pregnant.

Breastfeeding: avoid. This medication is passed through breastmilk and may affect your baby adversely. Consult your doctor before use.

Porphyria: avoid. It is unknown how this medication may affect your condition. Consult your doctor before use.

Infants and children: this medication is not intended for use in children under the age of 18 years.

Alcohol: avoid concomitant use of alcohol with this medication.

Possible side effects

Most frequent effects include:

  • diarrhoea
  • oesophagitis
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • red urine
  • hair loss
  • local irritation
  • anaemia


Drug interactions

You should tell your doctor which medicines (including those bought without a

Prescription), and herbal medicines you are taking, before you start your chemotherapy. Always check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any new medicines during your treatment.


This material is not intended to substitute medical advice, but is for informational purposes only.

Please consult a physician for specific treatment and recommendations.


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