Meds and you

27 September 2013


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


Paclitaxel is the active ingredient of Anzatax (Nappi code: 704208-001, 704209-001), Biolyse Paclitaxel (Nappi code: 703386-001), Taxol (Nappi code: 799777-005, 841730-008, 704126-001) and Teva-Paclitaxel (Nappi code: 700427-001, 700431-001, 700432-001).

General information

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

In South Africa paclitaxel is registered for the treatment of ovarian and breast cancer, cancer of the prostate, and non-small cell lung cancer.

Women of childbearing age should avoid falling pregnant while being treated with paclitaxel - the use of barrier contraception is therefore advised. Male patients should also avoid fathering a child while taking paclitaxel.

Avoid getting any vaccinations without the advice of a health care professional.

How does paclitaxel work?

Paclitaxel 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: paclitaxel is available as an injection.

What does it do? Paclitaxel is an anti-cancer drug.

Dependence risk: low

Is paclitaxel available as a generic? yes

Is paclitaxel available on prescription only? yes

User information

Duration of action: 3 weeks

Dietary advice: drink at least 2 litres of water per day while being treated with this medication.

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

Special precautions

Consult your doctor before using this drug if:

- you are pregnant

- you are allergic to castor oil

- you have a low white blood cell count

- you have liver disease

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.

The elderly: caution is advised in the elderly as side effects are more likely to occur.

Driving and hazardous work: caution is advised as use of this medication may lead to dizziness, light-headedness and/or sedation. Avoid such activities until you know how this medication affects you.

Alcohol: avoid concomitant use of alcohol with this medication.

Possible side effects

Side effect Frequency
Consult your doctor

Common Rare Only if severe In all cases
Nausea x
Vomitting x
Diarrhea x
Hair loss
x x
Muscle pain
x x
Redness at sight of injection
x x
Low blood pressure
Allergic reactions
Severe infections
Heart rate/ rhythm changes x


Drug interactions

Ciclosporin Increased risk of side effects
Ketoconazole Increased risk of side effects
Dexamethasone Increased risk of side effects
Diazepam Increased risk of side effects
Verapamil Increased risk of side effects
Carbamazepine Reduced effect
Phenobarbital Reduced effect
Cisplatin Potential risk of nerve pain
Warfarin Increased risk of bleeding

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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