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Hydroxyurea

Hydroxyurea

Uses

This medication is used by people with sickle cell anemia to reduce the number of painful crises caused by the disease and to reduce the need for blood transfusions. Some brands are also used to treat certain types of cancer (such as chronic myelogenous leukemia, squamous cell carcinomas).

How to use Hydroxyurea

Read the Medication Guide if available from your pharmacist before you start taking hydroxyurea and each time you get a refill. If you have any questions, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Why is this medication prescribed?

Hydroxyurea (Hydrea) is used alone or with other medications or radiation therapy to treat a certain type of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML; a type of cancer of the white blood cells) and certain types of head and neck cancer (including cancer of the mouth, cheek, tongue, throat, tonsils, and sinuses). Hydroxyurea (Droxia, Siklos) is used to reduce the frequency of painful crises and reduce the need for blood transfusions in adults and children 2 years of age and older with sickle cell anemia (an inherited blood disorder in which the red blood cells are abnormally shaped [shaped like a sickle] and cannot bring enough oxygen to all parts of the body). Hydroxyurea is in a class of medications called antimetabolites. Hydroxyurea treats cancer by slowing or stopping the growth of cancer cells in your body. Hydroxyurea treats sickle cell anemia by helping to prevent formation of sickle-shaped red blood cells.

Dosing Information

HYDREA is used alone or in conjunction with other antitumor agents or radiation therapy to treat neoplastic diseases. Individualize treatment based on tumor type, disease state, response to treatment, patient risk factors, and current clinical practice standards.

Base all dosage on the patient’s actual or ideal weight, whichever is less.

Side Effects:

Important things to remember about the side effects of Hydroxyurea:

  • Most people do not experience all of the side effects listed.
  • Side effects are often predictable in terms of their onset and duration.
  • Side effects are almost always reversible and will go away after treatment is complete.
  • There are many options to help minimize or prevent side effects.
  • There is no relationship between the presence or severity of side effects and the effectiveness of the medication.
  • The side effects of Hydroxyurea and their severity depend on how much of the drug is given.  In other words, high doses may produce more severe side effects.

Mechanism of Injury

The syndrome of fever and acute hepatitis arising within 1 to 3 weeks of starting hydroxyurea is probably due to hypersensitivity.  The cause of acute liver failure attributed to hydroxyurea is unknown, but may be related to drug-drug interactions with other potentially hepatotoxic agents.  Hydroxyurea is metabolized in the liver via the cytochrome P450 enzymes at least in part, but its drug-drug interactions have not been well characterized.

How should I take hydroxyurea?

Follow all directions on your prescription label. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose to make sure you get the best results. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

Drink 8 to 10 glasses of liquid per day while you are taking hydroxyurea. You may take the medicine with or without food.

Hydroxyurea is either taken once per day or once every third day, depending on the condition being treated. On each of your dosing days, take the medicine at the same time of day. Your doctor may also want you to take a folic acid supplement. Follow your doctor's instructions very carefully.

Wash your hands before and after you handle a hydroxyurea capsule or the bottle that contains the pills. For best protection, wear disposable gloves when handling the pills.

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