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Ethyol Side Effects

Generic Name: amifostine

Note: This document contains side effect information about amifostine. Some of the dosage forms listed on this page may not apply to the brand name Ethyol.

In Summary

Common side effects of Ethyol include: nausea. See below for a comprehensive list of adverse effects.

For the Consumer

Applies to amifostine: intravenous powder for solution

Along with its needed effects, amifostine (the active ingredient contained in Ethyol) 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 or nurse immediately if any of the following side effects occur while taking amifostine:

More common
  • Blurred vision
  • confusion
  • dizziness, faintness, or lightheadedness when suddenly getting up from a lying or sitting position
  • fainting or loss of consciousness
  • fast or irregular breathing
  • itching
  • nausea, vomiting
  • red, scaly, swollen, or peeling areas of the skin
  • skin rash
  • sweating
  • swelling of the eyes or eyelids
  • tightness in the chest
  • trouble with breathing
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • Blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin
  • burning or tingling sensation
  • chills
  • cough
  • cracks in the skin
  • diarrhea
  • fast, slow, or irregular heartbeat or pulse
  • fever
  • joint or muscle pain
  • loss of bladder control
  • loss of heat from the body
  • muscle cramps in the hands, arms, feet, legs, or face
  • muscle spasm or jerking of all extremities
  • no blood pressure or pulse
  • numbness and tingling around the mouth, fingertips, or feet
  • palpitations
  • red irritated eyes
  • red skin lesions, often with a purple center
  • seizures
  • sore throat
  • sores, ulcers, or white spots in the mouth or on the lips
  • stomach cramps
  • stopping of the heart
  • sudden loss of consciousness
  • tremor
Incidence not known
  • Bloody urine
  • decreased frequency or amount of urine
  • difficulty in swallowing
  • hives or welts
  • hoarseness
  • increased blood pressure
  • increased thirst
  • lower back or side pain
  • loss of appetite
  • pain or discomfort in the arms, jaw, back, or neck
  • slow or irregular breathing
  • swelling of the face, fingers, or lower legs
  • weight gain

Some side effects of amifostine 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:

Less common or rare
  • Feeling unusually warm or cold
  • flushing or redness of the face or neck
  • headache
  • hiccups
  • nervousness
  • pounding in the ears
  • sleepiness (severe)
  • sneezing

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to amifostine: intravenous powder for injection


Cardiovascular side effects include a transient reduction in blood pressure in 62% of patients. Arrhythmias such as atrial fibrillation/flutter and supraventricular tachycardia have been reported. (These have sometimes been associated with hypotension or allergic reactions.) Transient hypertension and exacerbations of preexisting hypertension, and short term, reversible loss of consciousness have been reported rarely.[Ref]

The mean time of onset until reduction in blood pressure was 14 minutes into the 15 minute amifostine infusion. The mean duration was six minutes. Blood pressure generally returned to normal within five to fifteen minutes.

In order to avoid hypotension, amifostine has sometimes been administered by the subcutaneous route.[Ref]


Gastrointestinal side effects frequently include nausea and/or vomiting which may be severe.[Ref]


These effects have not generally precluded the completion of therapy.[Ref]

Other side effects include flushing/feeling of warmth, fever, malaise, chills/feeling of coldness, dizziness, somnolence, hiccups, syncope, and sneezing.[Ref]


In case of an acute allergic reaction, amifostine (the active ingredient contained in Ethyol) should be immediately and permanently discontinued. Epinephrine and other measures should be available for the treatment of serious allergic events such as anaphylaxis.[Ref]

Hypersensitivity side effects have included hypotension, fever, chills/rigors, dyspnea, skin rashes, and urticaria. Anaphylactoid reactions including hypoxia, laryngeal edema, and chest tightness have also been reported. Anaphylactoid reactions associated with cardiac arrest have been reported rarely. A case of Stevens-Johnson syndrome has also been reported.[Ref]


Cutaneous eruptions have been commonly reported during clinical trials and were generally not serious.[Ref]

Dermatologic side effects include skin rashes, pruritus, urticaria, erythema multiforme, and rarely Stevens-Johnson Syndrome or toxic epidermal necrolysis.[Ref]

Nervous system

Nervous system side effects rarely include seizures.[Ref]


Musculoskeletal side effects including a case of amifostine-induced back pain have been reported.[Ref]


Metabolic side effects including hypocalcemia (up to 1%) have been reported.[Ref]


1. Koukourakis MI, Danielidis V "Preventing radiation induced xerostomia." Cancer Treat Rev 31 (2005): 546-54

2. "Product Information. Ethyol (amifostine)." Alza, Palo Alto, CA.

3. Boehme S, Wilson DB "Amifostine-induced fever: case report and review of the literature." Pharmacotherapy 24 (2004): 155-8

4. Astudillo L, Maachi B, Benyoucef A, Game X, Rives M, Bachaud JM "Stevens-Johnson syndrome after amifostine during radiotherapy." Int J Dermatol 43 (2004): 284-5

5. Atahan IL, Ozyar E, Sahin S, Yildiz F, Yalcin B, Karaduman A "Two cases of Stevens-Johnson syndrome: toxic epidermal necrolysis possibly induced by amifostine during radiotherapy." Br J Dermatol 143 (2000): 1072-3

6. Norales G, Maria V, de Guzman A, Leonard R, Aref A "Amifostine-induced back pain: a case report." Am J Health Syst Pharm 63 (2006): 381-2

Some side effects of Ethyol may not be reported. Always consult your doctor or healthcare specialist for medical advice. You may also report side effects to the FDA.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided is accurate, up-to-date and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. In addition, the drug information contained herein may be time sensitive and should not be utilized as a reference resource beyond the date hereof. This material does not endorse drugs, diagnose patients, or recommend therapy. This information is a reference resource designed as supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill , knowledge, and judgement of healthcare practitioners in patient care. The absence of a warning for a given drug or combination thereof in no way should be construed to indicate safety, effectiveness, or appropriateness for any given patient. does not assume any responsibility for any aspect of healthcare administered with the aid of materials provided. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the substances you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse, or pharmacist.