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Docetaxel Cancer Drug Linked to Alcohol Intoxication

Docetaxel Cancer Drug Linked to Alcohol Intoxication

June 20, 2014 — The chemotherapy drug docetaxel, marketed as Taxotere by Sanofi-Aventis, contains ethanol that can cause alcohol intoxication, according to a Drug Safety Communication from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The FDA is altering labels on the drug, which is administered intravenously and used to treat cancers of the breast, prostate, stomach, head and neck, and non-small cell lung cancer.

There are at least eight formulations of docetaxel, including generic and brand-name products, from several manufacturers. The alcohol content in each 200-mg dose ranges from a low of 2 grams in Taxotere to a high of 6.4 grams in docetaxel injections manufactured by Pfizer.

The FDA has received three reports of patients who experienced alcohol intoxication after being treated with docetaxel. Two incidents occurred during the infusion; one patient developed symptoms within 24 hours.

According to the FDA:

“Patients should be aware that docetaxel may cause them to become intoxicated from the alcohol it contains.  Patients should avoid driving, operating machinery, or performing other activities that are dangerous for one to two hours after the infusion of docetaxel.”

Healthcare professionals can minimize the risk of injuring a patient by carefully considering the dose of ethanol in each infusion — especially patients who are on other medications that intensify the intoxicating effects of alcohol, such as sleep aids and pain relievers.

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