Highlights for ixabepilone
Ixabepilone is an injected medication used to treat breast cancer.
This drug is used after certain medications don’t work or stop working. It may be used in combination with a drug called capecitabine after the drugs anthracycline and taxane haven’t worked. Or, it may be used alone after the drugs anthracycline, taxane, and capecitabine haven’t worked.
Ixabepilone is given by an injection directly into your vein (intravenous infusion) at a clinic or hospital. You won’t take this drug at home.
If you have liver problems, you shouldn’t receive ixabepilone with capecitabine. Taking these two drugs together if you have liver problems increases your chance of serious infections due to a very low white blood cell count (neutropenia). This can be fatal.
You shouldn’t drink grapefruit juice or eat grapefruit while receiving ixabepilone. Grapefruit can cause you to have too much ixabepilone in your blood. This may cause side effects.
What is ixabepilone?
Ixabepilone is a prescription drug. It is available as an intravenous (IV) solution. It is only given by a healthcare provider.
Ixabepilone is a generic drug. It’s also available as a brand-name drug called Ixempra. Generic drugs usually cost less. In some cases, they may not be available in every strength or form as the brand-name version. Talk to your doctor to see if the generic version will work for you.
This drug may be used as part of a combination therapy. That means you need to take it with another drug called capecitabine.
Why it's used
Ixabepilone is used to treat breast cancer that is metastatic (has spread to other parts of the body) or locally advanced.
How it works
Ixabepilone belongs to a drug class called microtubule inhibitors. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way.
ixabepilone Side Effects
Most Common Side Effects
The more common side effects that can occur with ixabepilone include:
loss of appetite
toenail or fingernail problems (such as nail color changes, lines on the nails, slowed growth, or nail loss)
decreased red blood cell count (anemia). This can cause:
- shortness of breath
- pale skin
joint and muscle pain
decreased platelets (thrombocytopenia). This can cause:
- increased bleeding from cuts
- bleeding gums
- frequent bruising
gastrointestinal problems, such as:
- abdominal pain
sores on your lip, in your mouth, or in your esophagus
hand-foot syndrome. Symptoms on your palms and soles of your feet can include:
- redness that looks like sunburn
- dry and peeling skin
- numbness and tingling
If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.
Serious Side Effects
Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 9-1-1 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:
Neuropathy in your hands or feet. Symptoms can include:
- numbness, tingling, or burning
- increased or decreased feeling
Low white blood cell count (neutropenia). Symptoms can include signs of infection, such as:
- fever above 100.5°F (38.05°C)
- burning or pain when you urinate
Allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:
- itching, hives (raised itchy welts), or skin rash
- redness in your face (flushing)
- sudden swelling of your face, throat, or tongue
- chest tightness
- trouble breathing
- feeling dizzy or faint
- abnormal heart rhythm (palpitations)
Heart problems. Symptoms can include:
- chest pain
- trouble breathing
- abnormal heart rhythm (palpitations)
- unexplained weight gain
Ixabepilone may cause drowsiness. Avoid activities that require you to be alert, such as driving or using machinery, until you know how this drug affects you.
ixabepilone May Interact with Other Medications
Ixabepilone can interact with other medications, herbs, or vitamins you might be taking. Your healthcare provider will look out for interactions with your current medications. Always be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, herbs or vitamins you’re taking.
Don’t drink grapefruit juice or eat grapefruit while receiving ixabepilone. Grapefruit can cause you to have too much ixabepilone in your body. This can lead to side effects.
Alcohol can worsen side effects of this drug, such as dizziness or drowsiness. Avoid doing things that require alertness, such as driving or using machinery, until you know how this drug affects you.
How to Take ixabepilone (Dosage)
Your doctor will determine a dose that’s right for you based on your height and weight. Your general health may affect your dose. Tell your doctor about all health conditions you have before your doctor or nurse administers the drug to you.
Ixabepilone comes with serious risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.
If you stop taking the drug suddenly or don’t take it at all
Your breast cancer may get worse.
If you miss doses or appointments
It’s very important to stay on schedule with your infusions. If you miss your appointment, call your doctor right away.
If you take too much
Because this medication is only given by a healthcare worker, it is rare to receive too much. If you do receive too much, symptoms would include more severe side effects than you would have had for previous infusions. These could include:
- gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea, loss of appetite, diarrhea, or abdominal pain
- numbness, tingling, or burning in your hands or feet (neuropathy)
- muscle pain
Let your doctor and nurse know if you think you have received too much of this drug. They will monitor you more closely and provide supportive care as needed.
How to tell the drug is working
Your doctor will monitor you closely and let you know if this drug is working.
Ixabepilone is a long-term drug treatment.
- E.R. Squibb & Sons, L.L.C. (2011, October) Ixempra- ixabepilone. Retrieved from http://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=e7992f6b-279b-46a7-b9c3-fea4e17718dc
Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group
Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on August 24, 2015