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Ondansetron

Ondansetron

Uses

This medication is used alone or with other medications to prevent nausea and vomiting caused by cancer drug treatment (chemotherapy) and radiation therapy. It is also used to prevent and treat nausea and vomiting after surgery. Ondansetron works by blocking one of the body's natural substances (serotonin) that causes vomiting.

Side Effects

  • Headache, lightheadedness, dizziness, drowsiness, tiredness, or constipation may occur. If these effects persist or worsen, notify your doctor promptly.
  • Remember that your doctor has prescribed this medication because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Many people using this medication do not have serious side effects.
  • Tell your doctor right away if any of these unlikely but serious side effects occur: stomach pain, muscle spasm/stiffness, vision changes (e.g., temporary loss of vision, blurred vision).
  • Get medical help right away if any of these rare but very serious side effects occur: chest pain, slow/fast/irregular heartbeat, severe dizziness, fainting.
  • This medication may increase serotonin and rarely cause a very serious condition called serotonin syndrome/toxicity. The risk increases if you are also taking other drugs that increase serotonin, so tell your doctor or pharmacist of all the drugs you take (see Drug Interactions section). Get medical help right away if you develop some of the following symptoms: fast heartbeat, hallucinations, loss of coordination, severe dizziness, severe nausea/vomiting/diarrhea, twitching muscles, unexplained fever, unusual agitation/restlessness.

History

Ondansetron (marketed under the brand name Zofran) was developed in the mid-1980s by GlaxoSmithKline in London. It was granted US patent protection in September 1987,[22] received a use patent June 1988,[23] and was approved by the US FDA in January 1991. It was granted another divisional patent in November 1996.[24] Finally, owing to GlaxoSmithKline's research on pediatric use, ondansetron's patent protection was extended until December 2006.[25] By this final year of its patent (2006), Zofran had become the 20th highest-selling brand-name drug in the United States, with sales of US$1.3 billion in the first 9 months of 2006 (80% from the US).[26] The first generic versions were approved by the US FDA in December 2006, with marketing approval granted to Teva Pharmaceuticals USA and SICOR Pharmaceuticals.[27]

Why is this medication prescribed?

Ondansetron is used to prevent nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and surgery. Ondansetron is in a class of medications called serotonin 5-HT3 receptor antagonists. It works by blocking the action of serotonin, a natural substance that may cause nausea and vomiting.

How should this medicine be used?

Ondansetron comes as a tablet, a rapidly disintegrating (dissolving) tablet, and an oral solution (liquid) to take by mouth. The first dose of ondansetron is usually taken 30 minutes before the start of chemotherapy, 1 to 2 hours before the start of radiation therapy, or 1 hour before surgery. Additional doses are sometimes taken one to three times a day during chemotherapy or radiation therapy and for 1 to 2 days after the end of treatment. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take ondansetron exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.

If you are taking the rapidly disintegrating tablet, remove the tablet from the package just before you take your dose. To open the package, do not try to push the tablet through the foil backing of the blister. Instead, use dry hands to peel back the foil backing. Gently remove the tablet and immediately place the tablet on the top of your tongue. The tablet will dissolve in a few seconds and can be swallowed with saliva.

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