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Adriamycin PFS

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Adriamycin PFS

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Doxorubicin has been used successfully to produce regression in disseminated neoplastic conditions such as acute lymphoblastic leukemia, acute myeloblastic leukemia, Wilms' tumor, neuroblastoma, soft tissue and bone sarcomas, breast carcinoma, ovarian carcinoma, transitional cell bladder carcinoma, thyroid carcinoma, gastric carcinoma, Hodgkin's disease, malignant lymphoma and bronchogenic carcinoma in which the small cell histologic type is the most responsive compared to other cell types.

Doxorubicin is also indicated for use as a component of adjuvant therapy in women with evidence of axillary lymph node involvement following resection of primary breast cancer.


Care in the administration of doxorubicin will reduce the chance of perivenous infiltration (see WARNINGS). It may also decrease the chance of local reactions such as urticaria and erythematous streaking. On intravenous administration of doxorubicin, extravasation may occur with or without an accompanying burning or stinging sensation, even if blood returns well on aspiration of the infusion needle. If any signs or symptoms of extravasation have occurred, the injection or infusion should be immediately terminated and restarted in another vein. If extravasation is suspected, intermittent application of ice to the site for 15 min. q.i.d. x 3 days may be useful. The benefit of local administration of drugs has not been clearly established. Because of the progressive nature of extravasation reactions, close observation and plastic surgery consultation is recommended. Blistering, ulceration and/or persistent pain are indications for wide excision surgery, followed by split-thickness skin grafting.

The most commonly used dose schedule when used as a single agent is 60 to 75 mg/m2 as a single intravenous injection administered at 21-day intervals. The lower dosage should be given to patients with inadequate marrow reserves due to old age, or prior therapy, or neoplastic marrow infiltration.

Doxorubicin has been used concurrently with other approved chemotherapeutic agents. Evidence is available that in some types of neoplastic disease combination chemotherapy is superior to single agents. The benefits and risks of such therapy continue to be elucidated. When used in combination with other chemotherapy drugs, the most commonly used dosage of doxorubicin is 40 to 60 mg/m2 given as a single intravenous injection every 21 to 28 days.

In a large randomized study (NSABP B-15) of patients with early breast cancer involving axillary lymph nodes (see CLINICAL PHARMACOLOGY, Clinical Studies and ADVERSE REACTIONS, Adverse Reactions in Patients with Early Breast Cancer Receiving Doxorubicin-Containing Adjuvant Therapy), the combination dosage regimen of AC (doxorubicin 60 mg/m2 and cyclophosphamide 600 mg/m2) was administered intravenously on day 1 of each 21-day treatment cycle. Four cycles of treatment were administered.

Dose Modifications

Patients in the NSABP B-15 study could have dose modifications of AC to 75% of the starting doses for neutropenic fever/infection. When necessary, the next cycle of treatment cycle was delayed until the absolute neutrophil count (ANC) was ≥ 1000 cells/mm3 and the platelet count was ≥ 100 000 cells/mm3 and nonhematologic toxicities had resolved.

Doxorubicin dosage must be reduced in case of hyperbilirubinemia as follows:

Plasma bilirubin concentration (mg/dL) Dosage reduction (%)
1.2 - 3.0 50
3.1 - 5.0 75

Reconstitution Directions

It is recommended that doxorubicin be slowly administered into the tubing of a freely running intravenous infusion of Sodium Chloride Injection, USP, or 5% Dextrose Injection, USP. The tubing should be attached to a Butterfly® needle inserted preferably into a large vein. If possible, avoid veins over joints or in extremities with compromised venous or lymphatic drainage. The rate of administration is dependent on the size of the vein, and the dosage. However, the dose should be administered in not less than 3 to 5 minutes. Local erythematous streaking along the vein as well as facial flushing may be indicative of too rapid an administration. A burning or stinging sensation may be indicative of perivenous infiltration and the infusion should be immediately terminated and restarted in another vein. Perivenous infiltration may occur painlessly.

Doxorubicin should not be mixed with heparin or fluorouracil since it has been reported that these drugs are incompatible to the extent that a precipitate may form. Contact with alkaline solutions should be avoided since this can lead to hydrolysis of doxorubicin. Until specific compatibility data are available, it is not recommended that doxorubicin be mixed with other drugs.

Parenteral drug products should be inspected visually for particulate matter and discoloration prior to administration, whenever solution and container permit.

Handling and Disposal

Procedures for proper handling and disposal of anticancer drugs should be considered. Several guidelines on this subject have been published.1-8 There is no general agreement that all the procedures recommended in the guidelines are necessary or appropriate. However, given the toxic nature of this substance, the following protective recommendations are provided:

  • Personnel should be trained in good technique for reconstitution and handling.
  • Pregnant staff should be excluded from working with this drug.
  • Personnel handling doxorubicin should wear protective clothing: goggles, gowns and disposable gloves and masks.
  • A designated area should be defined for reconstitution (preferably under a laminar flow system). The work surface should be protected by disposable, plastic-backed, absorbent paper.
  • All items used for reconstitution, administration or cleaning, including gloves, should be placed in high-risk waste-disposal bags for high-temperature incineration.
  • Spillage or leakage should be treated with dilute sodium hypochlorite (1% available chlorine) solution, preferably by soaking, and then water.
  • All cleaning materials should be disposed of as indicated previously.
  • In case of skin contact thoroughly wash the affected area with soap and water or sodium bicarbonate solution. However, do not abrade the skin by using a scrub brush.
  • In case of contact with the eye(s), hold back the eyelid(s) and flush the affected eye(s) with copious amounts of water for at least 15 minutes. Then seek medical evaluation by a physician.
  • Always wash hands after removing gloves.

Caregivers of pediatric patients receiving doxorubicin should be counseled to take precautions (such as wearing latex gloves) to prevent contact with the patient's urine and other body fluids for at least 5 days after each treatment.


Doxorubicin Hydrochloride for Injection, USP, a sterile red-orange lyophilized powder for intravenous use only, is available in 10, 20 and 50 mg single dose vials and a 150 mg multidose vial.

Each 10 mg single dose vial contains 10 mg of doxorubicin HCl, USP, 50 mg of lactose, NF (hydrous) and 1 mg of methylparaben, NF (added to enhance dissolution).

Each 20 mg single dose vial contains 20 mg of doxorubicin HCl, USP, 100 mg of lactose, NF (hydrous) and 2 mg of methylparaben, NF (added to enhance dissolution).

Each 50 mg single dose vial contains 50 mg of doxorubicin HCl, USP, 250 mg of lactose, NF (hydrous) and 5 mg of methylparaben, NF (added to enhance dissolution).

Each 150 mg multidose vial contains 150 mg of doxorubicin HCl, USP, 750 mg of lactose, NF (hydrous) and 15 mg of methylparaben, NF (added to enhance dissolution).

Doxorubicin Hydrochloride for Injection, USP is available as:

Sterile single use only:

NDC 0013-1086-91 10 mg single dose vial, 10 vial packs
0013-1096-91 20 mg single dose vial, 10 vial packs
0013-1106-79 50 mg single dose vial, single packs

Multidose vial:

NDC 0013-1116-83 150 mg multidose vial, single packs

Store at controlled room temperature, 15 to 30C (59 to 86F). Protect from light. Retain in carton until time of use. Discard unused portion.

Reconstituted Solution Stability

After adding the diluent, the vial should be shaken and the contents allowed to dissolve. The reconstituted solution is stable for 7 days at room temperature and under normal room light (100 foot-candles) and 15 days under refrigeration (2 to 8C). It should be protected from exposure to sunlight. Discard any unused solution from the 10 mg, 20 mg and 50 mg single dose vials. Unused solutions of the multiple dose vial remaining beyond the recommended storage times should be discarded.

Doxorubicin Hydrochloride Injection, USP is a sterile parenteral, isotonic, available in 5 mL (10 mg), 10 mL (20 mg), 25 mL (50 mg), and 37.5 mL (75 mg) single dose vials and a 100 mL (200 mg) multidose vial. Each mL contains doxorubicin HCI and the following inactive ingredients: sodium chloride 0.9% and water for injection q.s. Hydrochloric acid is used to adjust the pH to a target pH of 3.0.

Doxorubicin Hydrochloride Injection, USP is available as:


NDC 0013-1136-91 10 mg vial, 2 mg/mL, 5 mL, 10 vial packs
0013-1146-91 20 mg vial, 2 mg/mL,10 mL, 10 vial packs
0013-1156-79 50 mg vial, 2 mg/mL, 25 mL, single vial packs
0013-1176-87 75 mg vial, 2 mg/mL, 37.5 mL, single vial packs

MULTIDOSE VIALS, in Cytosafe™ vial packs:

NDC 0013-1286-83 150 mg, 2 mg/mL, 75 mL
0013-1266-83 200 mg, 2 mg/mL, 100 mL

Store refrigerated, 2 to 8C (36 to 46F). Protect from light. Retain in carton until contents are used. Contains no preservative. Discard unused portion.


1. Recommendations for the Safe Handling of Parenteral Antineoplastic Drugs. NIH Publication No. 83-2621. For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402.

2. AMA Council Report. Guidelines for Handling Parenteral Antineoplastics. JAMA 1985; 2.53(11):1590-1592.

3. National Study Commission on Cytotoxic Exposure-Recommendations for Handling of Cytotoxic Agents. Available from Louis P. Jeffrey, ScD., Chairman, National Study Commission on Cytotoxic Exposure, Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Allied Health Sciences, 179 Longwood Avenue, Boston, MA 02115.

4. Clinical Oncology Society of Australia, Guidelines and Recommendations for Safe Handling of Antineoplastic Agents. Med J Australia 1983; 1:426-428.

5. Jones RB, et al. Safe Handling of Chemotherapeutic Agents: A Report from the Mount Sinai Medical Center. CA-A Cancer Journal for Clinicians 1983; (Sept/Oct): 258-263.

6. American Society of Hospital Pharmacists Technical Assistance Bulletin on Handling Cytotoxic and Hazardous Drugs. Am J Hosp Pharm 1990; 47:1033-1049.

7. Controlling Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Drugs (OSHA Work-Practice Guidelines). Am J Health-Syst Pharm 1996; 53:1669-1685.

8. ONS Clinical Practice Committee. Cancer Chemotherapy Guidelines and Recommendations for Practice. Pittsburgh, PA: Oncology Nursing Society; 1999: 32-41.

Distributed by: Pharmacia and Upjohn Company, Division of Pfizer Inc, NY, NY 10017. Revised October 2006. FDA Rev date: 5/8/2003

This monograph has been modified to include the generic and brand name in many instances.

Last reviewed on RxList: 9/11/2008

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