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Doxorubicin (Adriamycin®)

By: Dr. Karin Szust

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  • Doxorubicin is an anthrocycline anticancer, antibiotic drug. It is used as a chemotherapy in the treatment of cancer.
  • Because of its cytotoxic effects, this drug is never used as an antibiotic.
  • Doxorubicin is a prescription drug and can only be obtained from a veterinarian or by prescription from a veterinarian.
  • This drug is not approved for use in animals by the Food and Drug Administration but it is prescribed legally by veterinarians as an extra-label drug.
  • This is a potentially dangerous drug and must be handled with care. Though very potent in the treatment of cancer, this drug also carries the risk of major side effects.

    Brand Names and Other Names

  • This drug is registered for use in humans only.
  • Human formulations: Adriamycin RDF® (Pharmacia), Adriamycin PFS® (Pharmacia), Rubex® (Bristol-Meyers) and generic preparations.
  • Veterinary formulations: None

    Uses of Doxorubicin

  • Doxorubicin is prescribed in the treatment of many cancers and tumors including lymphoma in dogs and cats, carcinoma of the thyroid and mammary glands in dogs and for a variety of different sarcomas.

    Precautions and Side Effects

  • While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, doxorubicin can cause side effects in some animals.
  • Doxorubicin should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug.
  • Doxorubicin may interact with other medications. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if other drugs your pet is receiving could interact with doxorubicin. Such drugs include cyclophosphamide and other anticancer drugs.
  • Because doxorubicin is a potent anti-cancer (antineoplastic) drug, extreme caution should be exercised when prescribing and administering it.
  • Because of its cardiac toxic effects, patients have to be monitored closely during treatments. This is especially true of the white blood cells. As the bone marrow is suppressed by this drug, the risk of infection becomes great.
  • Symptoms of adverse effect include fever, loss of appetite and diarrhea.
  • In some cases hair loss (alopecia) is observed.
  • Doxorubicin is a potent anticancer agent and should be always kept out of reach of children and other pets in the household.

    How Doxorubicin Is Supplied

  • Doxorubicin is available in lyophilized form for injection (10 mg, 20 mg, 50 mg, 100 mg and 150 mg) and 2 mg/ml solution for injection (5 ml, 10 ml, 20 ml, 25 ml and 100 ml).

    Dosing Information

  • Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
  • The typical dose administered to dogs is 30 mg/m2 intravenous every 21 days, depending on the type of cancer diagnosed.
  • If administered to cats, the dose should be 20 to 30 mg/m2 every three to four weeks.
  • The duration of administration depends on the protocol used, response to the medication and the development of any adverse effects.

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