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How long does oxaliplatin stay in your system?

Medically reviewed by Philip Thornton, DipPharm. Last updated on Dec 21, 2022.

Official answer


Oxaliplatin (Eloxatin) is a platinum-based drug used to treat colon cancer which is administered by intravenous (IV) infusion. After it is administered, oxaliplatin is converted into total platinum, ultrafilterable (free) platinum and erythrocyte platinum.

Ultrafiterable platinum represents the main active substance that provides oxaliplatin’s anti-cancer and toxic properties. Initially plasma ultrafiltrate is distributed quite quickly in the body in two phases, with half-lives (the amount of time it takes to reduce by half) of 0.43 and 16.8 hours, respectively, as the drug is moved into tissues and also cleared by the kidneys.

The third phase of elimination (the terminal half-life of platinum in ultrafiltrate), however, can be as long as 392 hours (approx. 16 days), although this is thought to reflect clearance of mostly inactive platinum conjugates.

After a single oxaliplatin infusion, about 54 percent of the drug is excreted in urine within 5 days.

Oxaliplatin stops cancer cells from growing and multiplying and kills them by interfering with the development of DNA in a cell. Because the effects can be long-lasting it is recommended that people who are able to get pregnant use an effective form of contraception while receiving this medication and for 9 months after they finish taking it.

For males with a female partner capable of becoming pregnant, it is recommended that effective contraception is used while receiving oxaliplatin and for 6 months after the final dose.

  • Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Eloxatin Product Label. [Accessed 21 December, 2022]. Available at:
  • Graham MA, Lockwood GF, Greenslade D, Brienza S, Bayssas M, Gamelin E. Clinical pharmacokinetics of oxaliplatin: a critical review. Clin Cancer Res. 2000;6(4):1205-1218.  

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