Amifostine

Brand Names

Ethyol®-A (There may be other brand names for this medication)

How is it Administered?

Your medication will be given by injection into a vein.

What is it Used For?

This drug reduces the effects of chemotherapy on the kidneys and helps relieve dry mouth problems for those receiving radiation therapy to the head and neck areas.

How Does it Work?

Amifostine is in a class of drugs known as chemoprotectants; it protects or minimizes the harmful effects of cisplatin and radiation treatment.

What Should I Tell My Doctor Before I Begin Receiving Amifostine?

Tell your doctor if you:

  • have had an allergic reaction to amifostine
  • are taking diuretics (water pills) or any other medicines for high blood pressure, vitamins, nutritional supplements, or herbal products
  • have or have ever had kidney disease, chest pain (angina), irregular heartbeats, heart failure, a stroke, or a mini-stroke
  • are pregnant or breastfeeding

This drug may interact with other medications, increasing or decreasing their effectiveness or causing harmful side effects. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about any prescription or over-the- counter medications, vitamins, herbal or diet supplements that you are taking.

What Are Some Possible Side Effects I May Experience?

  • Nausea and vomiting
  • A warm or flushed feeling that may occur near the end of your IV treatment
  • Sneezing
  • Hiccups
  • Chills ( feeling of coldness)
  • Fever
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, and/or drowsiness

How Can I Manage These Side Effects?

  • Ask your doctor about medication to help prevent or lessen nausea and vomiting.

When Should I Call the Doctor?

Call your doctor immediately if you experience:

  • any sign of infection: fever of 100.5F (38C) or higher, chills, cough, sore throat, pain or burning upon urination; redness or tenderness along a vein, at an IV site, or at any other wound or skin irritation
  • any sign of an allergic reaction: itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing, dizziness, or palpitations

Call your doctor as soon as possible if you experience:

  • Nausea and vomiting not relieved by prescribed medication or that prevents you from eating or drinking
  • Extreme tiredness that interferes with normal activities or dizziness

What Else Should I Know About Amifostine?

  • The most common side effect of amifostine is a decrease in blood pressure, which may start while the drug is being given and lasts about 6 minutes. You will be told to lie on your back and your blood pressure will be checked regularly during your treatment. Your doctor may order fluids to be given by injection to help improve your blood pressure.
  • This drug may have harmful effects on an unborn child. Use an effective form of birth control if you or your partner is taking carmustine.
  • You will probably be given antinausea medication before and during amifostine administration.
  • Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory.
  • This medicine is given before chemotherapy or radiation therapy.
  • Drink plenty of fluids during the 24 hours before receiving this medicine.
  • If you would like more information about amifostine, talk to your doctor.