Cancer Patients May 'Feel Drunk' From Docetaxel, Says FDA

Nick Mulcahy

Disclosures

June 20, 2014

The commonly used intravenous chemotherapy docetaxel "may cause patients to experience intoxication or feel drunk during and after treatment," warns the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Docetaxel contains ethanol, or alcohol, explains the agency in a drug safety communication.

The FDA is revising the labels of all docetaxel products to warn about the risk for intoxication.

Docetaxel is marketed as a generic and as brand-name products, including Taxotere (sanofi-aventis) and Docefrez (Sun Pharma Global).

The various products contain different amounts of alcohol, which is used to dissolve the active ingredients so that docetaxel can be given intravenously. Information about docetaxel formulations and alcohol content can be found on the FDA Web site.

Healthcare professionals should consider the alcohol content of docetaxel when prescribing or administering the drug to patients.

For patients who should avoid or minimize their intake of alcohol, special care should be taken, the FDA notes.

Patients should avoid driving, operating machinery, and performing other activities that are dangerous for 1 to 2 hours after the infusion of docetaxel.

In addition, some medications, such as pain relievers and sleep aids, might interact with the alcohol in the docetaxel infusion and worsen the intoxicating effects.

Docetaxel is used in the treatment of cancers of the breast, prostate, stomach, head and neck, and lung (non-small cell).

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