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Generic Name:

liposomal-doxorubicin, Injectable solution

All Brands

  • Doxil
SECTION 1 of 4

Highlights for liposomal-doxorubicin

Injectable solution
1

Doxorubicin is an injected drug that’s used to treat ovarian cancer, acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS)-related Kaposi’s sarcoma, and multiple myeloma.

2

This drug comes in the form of an injectable suspension. It’s infused into your vein by a healthcare provider.

3

Doxorubicin liposome is available as the brand-name drug Doxil. It’s also available as a generic drug.

4

The more common side effects of this drug include tiredness, weakness or lack of energy, nausea, vomiting, mouth sores, or fever.

5

In some cases, doxorubicin liposome can cause serious side effects. These include heart failure or other heart problems and serious reactions caused by the infusion.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

FDA warning

This drug has a black box warning. This is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A black box warning alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.

Heart failure or heart problems warning. The use of doxorubicin liposome can lead to heart failure, angina (chest pain), or other heart problems. These risks increase as the number of doses given increases. Talk with your doctor about these risks, and how much of this drug is safe for you to take.

Infusion reactions warning. Reactions to infusing this drug can be serious and even life-threatening. Symptoms can include flushing (sudden redness and warmth in your face), shortness of breath, or low blood pressure. Your doctor will monitor you for signs of a reaction.

Hand-foot syndrome

Doxorubicin liposome can cause this condition, which damages the skin on your hands and feet. Symptoms include tingling, burning, redness, flaking, swelling, blisters, or small sores. Tell your doctor right away if you have symptoms on the palms of your hands or the soles of your feet.

Pregnancy warning

Doxorubicin liposome can harm a fetus when used during pregnancy. Both women and men who receive this drug should use effective birth control if there is a possibility of pregnancy. You should keep using birth control for 6 months after your treatment ends.

Secondary cancers

Doxorubicin liposome can cause secondary oral (mouth) cancers. These are cancers that develop in addition to the cancer being treated with this drug. These cancers can occur after the drug is used long-term (more than 1 year). Secondary cancers can occur during treatment and up to 6 years after the last dose of this drug is received. Talk with your doctor about any monitoring that will be done for these cancers while you receive this drug and afterward.

Drug features

Doxorubicin liposome is a prescription drug. It’s available in an intravenous (IV) form. It can be infused only by a healthcare provider who has experience giving chemotherapy drugs. You must go to a clinic or hospital to receive this drug. You won’t be able administer this drug at home.

Doxorubicin liposome is available as a brand-name drug called Doxil. It’s also available as a generic drug.

Doxorubicin liposome may be used as part of a combination therapy. This means you may need to take it with other medications.

Why it's used

Doxorubicin liposome is used to treat three types of cancer:

  • Multiple myeloma. For this condition, this drug is used in combination with another drug called bortezomib. It’s prescribed for people who have tried at least one other cancer treatment that hasn’t worked.
  • Ovarian cancer. For this condition, this drug is used after a treatment called platinum-based chemotherapy hasn’t worked.
  • AIDS-related Kaposi’s sarcoma. For this condition, this drug is used after other types of chemotherapy haven’t worked.

How it works

Doxorubicin liposome belongs to a class of drugs called anthracyclines. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

Doxorubicin liposome prevents cancer cells from forming or growing properly. This leads to the destruction of the cancer cells.

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SECTION 2 of 4

liposomal-doxorubicin Side Effects

Injectable solution

Most Common Side Effects

The more common side effects of doxorubicin liposome can include:

  • tiredness

  • weakness or lack of energy

  • fever

  • loss of appetite

  • nausea

  • vomiting

  • mouth sores

  • diarrhea

  • constipation

  • rash

  • hand-foot syndrome (skind damage to the hands and feet)

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:

  • Heart problems. These can include:

    • angina, with symptoms that can include:
      • chest pain
    • arrhythmias (heart rhythm problems), with symptoms that can include:
      • increased heart rate
      • feeling like your heart is skipping a beat
    • heart failure, with symptoms that can include:
      • shortness of breath
      • unusual swelling in your legs, ankles, or feet
      • weight gain
      • tiredness
  • Infusion-related reactions. Symptoms can include:

    • flushing (sudden redness and warmth in your face)
    • shortness of breath, or stopping breathing for a short time
    • low blood pressure, with symptoms such as dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting
    • swelling of your face
    • headache
    • chills
    • back pain
    • chest or throat tightness
    • rapid heart rate
    • itching
    • rash
  • More frequent or long-lasting infections, caused by a low level of white blood cells. Symptoms can include:

    • fever
    • cold symptoms that don’t go away, such as a runny nose or sore throat
    • flu symptoms, such as cough, tiredness, or body aches
    • pain during urination
    • white patches in the mouth or throat
  • Anemia, caused by a low level of red blood cells. Symptoms can include:

    • pale skin
    • extreme tiredness
    • feeling lightheaded
    • fast heartbeat
  • Bleeding, caused by a low level of platelets (cells that help your blood to clot). Symptoms can include:

    • unexplained bruising
    • unexpected bleeding, or bleeding that lasts a long time, such as:
      • unusual bleeding from your gums
      • frequent nosebleeds
      • menstrual bleeding that’s heavier than normal
    • coughing up blood
    • vomiting blood, or having vomit that looks like coffee grounds
    • bloody urine
    • dark or bloody stools
    • headaches
    • weakness
    • dizziness
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

This drug can:

  • Cause tiredness. You should have a friend or loved one drive you home after your treatment.
  • Turn your urine a reddish-orange color. This may also occur with other body fluids. This effect will go away when the drug leaves your system after each infusion.
  • Cause painful, red, and swollen sores in your mouth. Let your doctor know right away if you have these symptoms. They are symptoms of a condition called stomatitis. Your doctor may suggest that you:
    • Avoid hot, spicy, or acidic foods
    • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush
    • Use a prescription mouthwash to help treat these mouth sores
Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
SECTION 3 of 4

liposomal-doxorubicin May Interact with Other Medications

Injectable solution

Doxorubicin liposome can interact with other medications, herbs, or vitamins you might be taking. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well. 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.

Food interactions

Avoid drinking grapefruit juice and eating grapefruit on the days you receive your infusion of doxorubicin liposome. Also avoid grapefruit for 2–3 days after each infusion. Grapefruit can cause you to have too much doxorubicin liposome in your body. This raises your risk of side effects.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.
Drug warnings
heart disease
People with heart disease

Doxorubicin liposome raises your risk of heart damage. Your doctor will only give you this drug if its benefits to you could be greater than the risks.

liver problems
People with liver problems
If you have liver problems or a history of liver disease, you may have trouble clearing this drug from your body. This can cause increased levels of the drug in your body, which can lead to more side effects.
pregnant women
Pregnant women

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t assigned a pregnancy category to this drug. Results from studies conducted in animals suggest that doxorubicin liposome can cause serious harm to a growing fetus.

Tell your doctor if you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant. This drug should be used during pregnancy only if the potential benefit justifies the potential risk to the fetus. Both males and females receiving this drug should use effective birth control if there is a possibility of pregnancy. You should continue to use effective birth control for 6 months after your treatment with this drug has ended.

breastfeeding
Women who are breast-feeding

This drug may pass into breast milk and cause side effects in a child who is breastfed. Talk to your doctor if you breastfeed your child. It is recommended to stop breastfeeding while receiving this drug.

for seniors
For seniors

The liver of older adults may not work as well as it used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

for children
For children

This medication has not been studied in children. It should not be used in people younger than 18 years.

call doctor
When to call the doctor

Call your doctor right away if you become pregnant while taking this drug.

allergies
Allergies

Doxorubicin liposome can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:

  • trouble breathing
  • swelling of your throat or tongue

If you have an allergic reaction, call your doctor or local poison control center right away. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Taking this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it could be fatal (cause death). Be sure to tell your doctor if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to this drug.

SECTION 4 of 4

How to Take liposomal-doxorubicin (Dosage)

Injectable solution

Your doctor will determine a dosage that’s right for you based on your individual needs. Your general health may affect your dosage. Tell your doctor about all health conditions you have before your healthcare provider administers the drug to you.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

This drug comes with serious risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.

If you don’t receive this drug at all

Your cancer will be untreated and may get worse.

If you miss doses or don’t receive the drug on schedule

Your doctor may adjust your schedule by delaying treatment. This decision may depend on how your body responds to the medication and the results of certain lab tests. However, delaying treatment for any other reason may cause your cancer to get worse. Be sure to keep all infusion appointments as directed by your doctor.

What to do if you miss a dose

Call your doctor right away to find out what to do and how to reschedule your appointment.

How to tell if the drug is working

Your doctor will review the results of your lab tests. These will show how well this drug is working to treat your cancer.

This drug is used for short-term treatment.

You will receive cycles of treatment with doxorubicin liposome

Talk with your doctor about how often you will need to receive this drug and how long the cycles will last. The length of these cycles will depend on the type of cancer being treated.

How long does it take?

Doxorubicin liposome is administered by a slow infusion into your vein. It typically takes about 60 minutes.

Can I drive home after?

Doxorubicin liposome may make you feel very tired or weak. You may need a friend or loved one to drive you home after your infusion.

You should not drive or use heavy machinery while you’re on this medication until you know how it affects you.

Travel

This drug must be administered by a trained healthcare provider. Talk with your doctor about any travel plans you have. You may need to plan your travel around your infusion schedule.

Clinical monitoring

Your doctor will monitor your health and the progress of your treatment while you take doxorubicin liposome. They may monitor your:

  • Blood cell and platelet counts. Your doctor will likely do blood tests often to monitor these counts. The results of these tests will also help your doctor decide your dosage of this drug.
  • Liver function. Your doctor will likely check how well your liver is working. This will help your doctor make sure this drug is safe for you to take.
  • Heart function. This drug can cause damage to your heart. Your doctor will likely check your heart function using a multiple-gated acquisition scan or an echocardiogram. These tests will help your doctor make sure this drug is safe for you to take.
    • Cancer growth. Your doctor will likely check the progress of your treatment using imaging tests, such as an x-ray or CT (computerized tomography) scan. These images can show if your tumors are growing, staying the same, or getting smaller.

Insurance

Many insurance companies require a prior authorization for this drug. This means your doctor may need to get approval from your insurance company before your insurance company will pay for the prescription.


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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 January 29, 2016

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.
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