Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on May 9, 2022.
Commonly used brand name(s)
In the U.S.
Available Dosage Forms:
Therapeutic Class: Antineoplastic Agent
Uses for azacitidine
Azacitidine is used to treat acute myeloid leukemia (AML) in patients who had a first complete remission (CR), following intensive induction cancer treatment with or without recovery of blood cell counts, and who are not able to complete intensive curative treatment.
Azacitidine is an antineoplastic agent (cancer medicine). It interferes with the growth of cancer cells, which are eventually destroyed by the body.
Azacitidine is available only with your doctor's prescription.
Before using azacitidine
In deciding to use a medicine, the risks of taking the medicine must be weighed against the good it will do. This is a decision you and your doctor will make. For azacitidine, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to azacitidine or any other medicines. Also tell your health care professional if you have any other types of allergies, such as to foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. For non-prescription products, read the label or package ingredients carefully.
Appropriate studies have not been performed on the relationship of age to the effects of azacitidine in the pediatric population. Safety and efficacy have not been established.
Appropriate studies performed to date have not demonstrated geriatric-specific problems that would limit the usefulness of azacitidine in the elderly.
There are no adequate studies in women for determining infant risk when using this medication during breastfeeding. Weigh the potential benefits against the potential risks before taking this medication while breastfeeding.
Interactions with medicines
Although certain medicines should not be used together at all, in other cases two different medicines may be used together even if an interaction might occur. In these cases, your doctor may want to change the dose, or other precautions may be necessary. When you are taking azacitidine, it is especially important that your healthcare professional know if you are taking any of the medicines listed below. The following interactions have been selected on the basis of their potential significance and are not necessarily all-inclusive.
Using azacitidine with any of the following medicines is usually not recommended, but may be required in some cases. If both medicines are prescribed together, your doctor may change the dose or how often you use one or both of the medicines.
Interactions with food/tobacco/alcohol
Certain medicines should not be used at or around the time of eating food or eating certain types of food since interactions may occur. Using alcohol or tobacco with certain medicines may also cause interactions to occur. Discuss with your healthcare professional the use of your medicine with food, alcohol, or tobacco.
Other medical problems
The presence of other medical problems may affect the use of azacitidine. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Kidney disease, severe—Use with caution. The effects may be increased because of slower removal of the medicine from the body.
- Liver disease, severe or
- Myelodysplastic syndrome (bone marrow problem)—Use has not been studied in patients with these conditions.
- Neutropenia (low number of white blood cells) or
- Thrombocytopenia (low number of platelets)—Use with caution. May make these conditions worse.
Proper use of azacitidine
Medicines used to treat cancer are very strong and can have many side effects. Before using azacitidine, make sure you understand all the risks and benefits. It is important for you to work closely with your doctor during your treatment.
Use azacitidine exactly as directed by your doctor. Do not use more of it, do not use it more often, and do not use it for a longer time than your doctor ordered.
Azacitidine should come with a patient information leaflet. Read and follow these instructions carefully. Ask your doctor if you have any questions.
Take azacitidine at the same time each day. You may take it with or without food.
Swallow the tablet whole. Do not crush, break, or chew it.
You may also receive medicines to help prevent nausea and vomiting at least 30 minutes before each dose of azacitidine.
If the powder from the tablet comes in contact with your skin, wash the area right away with soap and water. If it comes in contact with your eyes or mouth, rinse the area right away with water.
Use only the brand of medicine your doctor prescribed. Other brands may not work the same way.
The dose of azacitidine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of azacitidine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.
The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.
- For oral dosage form (tablets):
- For treatment of acute myeloid leukemia (AML):
- Adults—300 milligrams (mg) once a day on Days 1 to 14 of each 28-day cycle. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed or tolerated.
- Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
- For treatment of acute myeloid leukemia (AML):
If you miss a dose of azacitidine, take it as soon as possible. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not double doses.
If you vomit after taking a dose of azacitidine, do not take another dose on the same day. Go back to your regular dosing schedule the next day.
Keep out of the reach of children.
Do not keep outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
Ask your healthcare professional how you should dispose of any medicine you do not use.
Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing.
Store azacitidine in its original container.
Precautions while using azacitidine
It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to make sure azacitidine is working properly. Blood tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.
Using azacitidine while you are pregnant can harm your unborn baby. If you are a woman who can bear children, your doctor may give you a pregnancy test before you start using azacitidine to make sure you are not pregnant. Azacitidine may also cause birth defects if the father is using it when his sexual partner becomes pregnant. Female patients should use an effective form of birth control during treatment with azacitidine and for at least 6 months after the last dose. Male patients who have female partners should use effective birth control during treatment with azacitidine and for at least 3 months after the last dose. If you think you have become pregnant or your partner has become pregnant while using azacitidine, tell your doctor right away.
Cancer medicines can cause nausea or vomiting in most people, sometimes even after receiving medicines to prevent it. Ask your doctor or nurse about other ways to control these side effects.
Azacitidine can temporarily lower the number of white blood cells in your blood, increasing the chance of getting an infection. It can also lower the number of platelets, which are necessary for proper blood clotting. If this occurs, there are certain precautions you can take, especially when your blood count is low, to reduce the risk of infection or bleeding:
- If you can, avoid people with infections. Check with your doctor immediately if you think you are getting an infection or if you get a fever or chills, cough or hoarseness, lower back or side pain, or painful or difficult urination.
- Check with your doctor immediately if you notice any unusual bleeding or bruising, black, tarry stools, blood in the urine or stools, or pinpoint red spots on your skin.
- Be careful when using a regular toothbrush, dental floss, or toothpick. Your medical doctor, dentist, or nurse may recommend other ways to clean your teeth and gums. Check with your medical doctor before having any dental work done.
- Do not touch your eyes or the inside of your nose unless you have just washed your hands and have not touched anything else in the meantime.
- Be careful not to cut yourself when you are using sharp objects such as a safety razor or fingernail or toenail cutters.
- Avoid contact sports or other situations where bruising or injury could occur.
If you plan to have children, talk with your doctor before using azacitidine. Some men and women using azacitidine have become infertile (unable to have children).
Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or non-prescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.
Azacitidine side effects
Along with its needed effects, a medicine may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.
Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur:
- Black, tarry stools
- bleeding gums
- blood in urine or stools
- chest pain or tightness
- decreased appetite
- difficulty in moving
- lack or loss of strength
- lower back or side pain
- muscle pain or stiffness
- pain in the arms or legs
- pain in joints
- painful or difficult urination
- pale skin
- pinpoint red spots on skin
- sore throat
- stomach pain
- trouble breathing
- ulcers, sores, or white spots in the mouth
- unusual bleeding or bruising
- unusual tiredness or weakness
Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects. Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:
- decreased appetite
Other side effects not listed may also occur in some patients. If you notice any other effects, check with your healthcare professional.
Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
More about azacitidine
- Side effects
- Drug interactions
- Dosage information
- During pregnancy or Breastfeeding
- Reviews (19)
- Pricing & coupons
- En español
- Drug class: miscellaneous antineoplastics
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