Generic name: eflornithine [ ef-LOR-ni-theen ]
Drug class: Miscellaneous topical agents
Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Dec 13, 2022.
Uses for eflornithine
Eflornithine is used to treat African sleeping sickness, a disease caused by protozoa (tiny one-celled animals).
Eflornithine is available only with your doctor's prescription.
Before using eflornithine
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 this medicine, the following should be considered:
Tell your doctor if you have ever had any unusual or allergic reaction to this medicine 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.
Studies on this medicine have been done only in adult patients, and there is no specific information comparing use of eflornithine in children with use in other age groups.
Many medicines have not been studied specifically in older people. Therefore, it may not be known whether they work exactly the same way they do in younger adults or if they cause different side effects or problems in older people. There is no specific information comparing use of eflornithine in the elderly with use in other age groups.
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. Tell your healthcare professional if you are taking any other prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicine.
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 this medicine. Make sure you tell your doctor if you have any other medical problems, especially:
- Anemia or other blood problems—Eflornithine may cause blood problems, making the problems you already have worse
- Hearing loss—Long-term treatment with eflornithine may increase your chance of hearing loss
- Kidney disease—Patients with kidney disease may have an increased chance of side effects
Proper use of eflornithine
To ensure the best response, eflornithine must be given for the full time of treatment. Also, this medicine works best when there is a constant amount in the blood. To help keep the amount constant, eflornithine must be given on a regular schedule.
The dose of this medicine 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 this medicine. 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 injection dosage form:
- For the treatment of African sleeping sickness:
- Adults—Dose is based on body weight and must be determined by your doctor. The usual dose is 100 milligrams (mg) per kilogram (kg) (45 mg per pound) of body weight injected slowly into a vein over a period of at least forty-five minutes. This dose is given every six hours for fourteen days.
- Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.
- For the treatment of African sleeping sickness:
Precautions while using eflornithine
It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits. This medicine may cause blood problems.
Eflornithine can 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 to reduce the risk of infection or bleeding:
- Check with your doctor immediately if you think you are getting an infection or if you get a fever or chills.
- Check with your doctor immediately if you notice any unusual bleeding or bruising; black, tarry stools; blood in 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.
- Be careful not to cut yourself when you are using sharp objects such as a safety razor or fingernail or toenail cutters.
Side Effects of eflornithine
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:
- Sore throat and fever
- unusual bleeding or bruising
- unusual tiredness or weakness
- Convulsions (seizures)
- loss of hearing
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:
- stomach pain
- Hair loss
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.
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