Vorinostat | Side Effects, Dosage, Uses & More
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Generic Name:

vorinostat, Oral capsule

All Brands

  • Zolinza
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Highlights for vorinostat

Oral capsule
1

Vorinostat is used to treat cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. This is a cancer of your immune system that damages your skin.

2

This drug comes as a capsule that you take by mouth.

3

Vorinostat is available as the brand-name drug Zolinza. It is not available as a generic drug.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Blood clots

Vorinostat raises your risk of deep vein thrombosis (blood clot in a deep vein, typically in your leg) and pulmonary embolism (blood clot that can travel to your lungs). Symptoms of blood clots can include sudden swelling, warmth, redness, pain, or tenderness in your leg. They can also include sudden sharp chest pain, shortness of breath, and coughing up blood.

Decreased number of blood cells

Vorinostat can decrease your number of red blood cells and platelets. This can cause tiredness, paleness, shortness of breath, and more frequent bleeding and bruising. Your doctor will monitor your blood cell counts while you take vorinostat. If your counts are too low, your doctor may reduce your dosage or stop your treatment with this drug.

Digestive problems

This drug can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. These effects may put you at increased risk of dehydration (very low water levels in your body). You may need to take medications to treat your diarrhea or vomiting if it does not get better.

High blood sugar levels

This drug can cause high blood sugar levels that can be severe in some people. Your doctor will monitor your blood sugar level every 2 weeks for the first 2 months of treatment and then once every month after that while you take this drug.

What is vorinostat?

Vorinostat is a prescription drug. It comes as a capsule that you take by mouth. It’s available as the brand-name drug Zolinza. It isn’t available as a generic drug.

Vorinostat may be used as part of a combination therapy. This means you may need to take it with other medications to treat your condition.

Why it's used

Vorinostat is used to treat a type of cancer called cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. This is a cancer of your immune system that damages your skin.

See Details

How it works

Vorinostat belongs to a class of drugs called histone deacetylase inhibitors. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way.

See Details

Why it's used

Vorinostat is used to treat a type of cancer called cutaneous T-cell lymphoma. This is a cancer of your immune system that damages your skin. This drug is used to treat this cancer only when other treatments have not worked, or if your cancer went away but has come back.

How it works

Vorinostat belongs to a class of drugs called histone deacetylase inhibitors. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

Vorinostat works by preventing certain enzymes in your body from working. These enzymes help the cancer cells grow and spread. Stopping these enzymes from working helps slow or stop the growth of cancer cells.

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vorinostat Side Effects

Oral capsule

More common side effects

The more common side effects of vorinostat can include:

  • diarrhea

  • nausea

  • vomiting

  • los of appetite

  • constipation

  • unexpected weight loss

  • tiredness

  • dizziness

  • headache

  • changes in the way foods taste

  • dry mouth

  • muscle aches

  • hair loss

  • chills

  • fever

  • upper respiratory infection

  • cough

  • increase in a substance called creatinine in your blood

  • swelling in your foot, ankle, and leg

  • itching

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:

  • Deep vein thrombosis (blood clot in a deep vein, typically in your leg). Symptoms can include:

    • sudden swelling in your leg, with increased warmth and redness
    • pain or tenderness in your leg (may only occur when standing or walking)
  • Pulmonary embolism (blood clot in your lungs). Symptoms can include:

    • sudden sharp chest pain
    • shortness of breath
    • coughing up blood
    • sweating
    • rapid pulse
    • fainting
    • anxiousness
  • Dehydration. Symptoms can include:

    • dry mouth
    • thirst
    • headache
    • dizziness
    • urinating less often than normal
  • Decreased number of red blood cells. Symptoms can include:

    • tiredness
    • paleness
    • shortness of breath
  • Decreased number of platelets. Symptoms can include:

    • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • High blood sugar. Symptoms can include:

    • increased thirst
    • blurry vision
    • the need to urinate often
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Vorinostat may cause drowsiness.

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.
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vorinostat May Interact with Other Medications

Oral capsule

Vorinostat can interact with other medications, vitamins, or herbs you may 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.

To help avoid interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you’re taking. To find out how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Medications that might interact with this drug

Interactions that increase your risk of side effects

Increased side effects from other drugs: Taking vorinostat with certain medications raises your risk of side effects from these drugs. Examples of these drugs include:

  • Warfarin or any other blood thinner
    • When used with vorinostat, these drugs can make your blood too thin and cause dangerous bleeding.

Increased side effects from vorinostat: Taking vorinostat with certain medications raises your risk of side effects from vorinostat. This is because the amount of vorinostat in your body may be increased. Examples of these drugs include:

  • Other histone deacetylase inhibitors, such as valproic acid
    • Increased side effects can include bleeding in your stomach and even lower numbers of platelets. Your doctor will decide if you should continue to take valproic acid while taking vorinostat.

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.
Vorinostat warnings
blood clot warning
People with a history of blood clots

This drug raises your risk of deep vein thrombosis (blood clot in a deep vein, typically in your legs) and pulmonary embolism (blood clot that travels to your lungs). Symptoms of a blood clot can include sudden swelling, warmth, redness, pain, or tenderness in your leg. They can also include sudden sharp chest pain, shortness of breath, or coughing up blood.

stomach problem warning
People with a history of stomach problems

Vorinostat can cause nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. These problems increase your risk of dehydration (very low levels of water in your body). Your doctor may have you take medications to prevent dehydration before you start taking vorinostat.

diabetes warning
People with diabetes

Taking this drug raises your risk of high blood sugar levels. Your doctor will likely tell you to monitor your blood sugar levels more often while you take this drug.

pregnancy warning
Pregnant women

Vorinostat is a category D pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  1. Research in humans has shown adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. This drug should only be used during pregnancy in serious cases where it's needed to treat a dangerous condition in the mother.

Talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Ask your doctor to tell you about the specific harm that may be done to the fetus. This drug should be only used if the potential risk to the fetus is acceptable given the drug’s potential benefit.

breast feeding warning
Women who are breast-feeding

It is not known if vorinostat passes into breast milk and causes side effects in a child who is breastfed.

Talk to your doctor about breastfeeding your child. You may need to decide whether to stop breastfeeding or stop taking this medication.

childrens warning
For children

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

call the doctor
When to call the doctor

Call your doctor if:

  • You become pregnant while taking this drug.
  • You expose your skin to the contents of the capsule. If one of your capsules opens and touches your skin or gets in your eyes, wash the area well with plenty of water and call your doctor right away.
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How to Take vorinostat (Dosage)

Oral capsule

All possible dosages and drug forms may not be included here. Your dosage, drug form, and how often you take the drug will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What are you taking this medication for?

Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma

Brand: Zolinza

Form: oral capsule
Strength: 100 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18 and older)
  • Typical dosage: 400 mg taken once per day
  • Dosage changes: Your doctor may reduce your dosage to 300 mg taken once per day if your body cannot tolerate higher doses.
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

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

Special considerations

People with mild to moderate liver disease: The typical dosage is 300 mg taken once per day.

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

Vorinostat 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 cancer may not go away and may get worse.

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

Your medication may not work as well or may stop working completely. For this drug to work well, a certain amount needs to be in your body at all times.

If you take too much

You could have dangerous levels of the drug in your body. If you think you’ve taken too much of this drug, call your doctor or local poison control center. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

What to do if you miss a dose

Take your dose as soon as you remember. If you remember just a few hours before your next scheduled dose, take only one dose. Never try to catch up by taking two doses at once. This could result in dangerous side effects.

How to tell if the drug is working

You may not notice a difference, but that doesn’t mean that the drug is not working. Your doctor will do tests to check how this drug is working for you.

Vorinostat is used for long-term treatment.

Important considerations for taking vorinostat

Store this drug carefully

  • Store vorinostat at room temperature between 68°F and 77°F (20°C and 25°C).
  • Keep this drug away from light.
  • Don’t store this medication in moist or damp areas, such as bathrooms.

A prescription for this medication is refillable

You should not need a new prescription for this medication to be refilled. Your doctor will write the number of refills authorized on your prescription.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry your medication with you. When flying, never put it into a checked bag. Keep it in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport x-ray machines. They can’t hurt your medication.
  • You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled box with you.
  • Don’t put this medication in your car’s glove compartment or leave it in the car. Be sure to avoid doing this when the weather is very hot or very cold.

Self-management

Do not open the capsules or touch their contents. If one of your capsules opens and gets on your skin or in your eyes, wash the area well with plenty of water and call your doctor right away.

Clinical monitoring

Your doctor may do certain blood tests during your treatment. This can help make sure you stay safe while you take this drug. These tests include:

  • blood cell counts
  • blood sugar level tests
  • tests for electrolyte, creatinine, magnesium, and calcium levels

Your doctor may also monitor you for signs of a blood clot in the deep veins of your legs.

Your diet

Drink at least eight 8-ounce glasses of water every day while taking vorinostat. Drinking enough fluids helps lower your risk of dehydration. This is especially important if you have symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea.

Hidden costs

If your doctor tells you to monitor your blood sugar level at home, you may need to purchase:

  • Sterile alcohol wipes
  • Lancing device and lancets (pricking needles that draw a drop of blood for testing)
  • A blood glucose monitor
  • Blood glucose test strips
  • A sharps container (a bin for disposing of used lancets safely)

The cost of these items can vary depending on where you purchase them.

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.

Are there any alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be better suited for you than others. Talk to your doctor about other drug options that may work for you.

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How Much Does vorinostat Cost?

Oral capsule

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These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for vorinostat on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

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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 March 14, 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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