What is Vidaza Uses, warnings & interactions
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Vidaza (azacitidine) is a chemotherapy medication that is manufactured by the Celgene Corporation. It was approved in 2004 by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat myelodysplastic syndrome and certain types of leukemia. It is typically given as an injection under the skin or in a vein by a healthcare professional. Azacitidine is also sold as an oral tablet under the brand name Onureg.
If your doctor has prescribed Vidaza to you, you may want to know more about what it is and how it works. Here we’ll explain what Vidaza is used for, how it works, its side effects, and more.
What is Vidaza used for?
Vidaza (azacitidine) is a type of cancer treatment used to treat a variety of blood and bone marrow disorders. It is thought to help your bone marrow grow normal blood cells to reduce your need for red blood cell transfusions. Vidaza also helps stop the growth and spread of cancer cells. It is FDA-approved to treat juvenile myelomonocytic leukemia (JMML) in pediatric patients aged 1 month and older. It is also indicated for the following French-American-British (FAB) myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) subtypes in adults:
- Refractory anemia (RA) or refractory anemia with ringed sideroblasts (RARS) if you have neutropenia, thrombocytopenia, or require blood transfusions
- Refractory anemia with excess blasts (RAEB)
- Refractory anemia with excess blasts in transformation (RAEB-T)
- Acute myeloid leukemia (AML)
- Chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMMoL)
How does Vidaza work?
Vidaza is an antimetabolite that interferes with the RNA and DNA of cancer cells in your bone marrow. Vidaza is a ribonucleoside, so it is incorporated into RNA to a larger extent than into DNA. This inhibits the growth and spread of rapidly dividing cells and eventually leads to their death. Vidaza can also affect normal cells which can lead to serious adverse effects. Vidaza may help your bone marrow make healthy white blood cells (WBCs) and platelets.
What are the most commonly prescribed doses of Vidaza?
- Vidaza comes as a lyophilized powder in 100 mg single-dose vials. Your dose will depend on your condition and the size of the area being treated.
How to take Vidaza
Vidaza can be given as a subcutaneous injection in the thigh, stomach, or upper arm. It can also be given as an intravenous infusion. Vidaza is not a medication you give yourself at home. Each treatment cycle should be given by a nurse or doctor in their office, clinic, or hospital. They will monitor you before treatment and watch for any adverse reaction you may have to the medication. They may also give you medications for nausea and vomiting prior to Vidaza treatment.
- Advanced malignant liver cancer
- Hypersensitivity to azacitidine, mannitol, or any other ingredient in the formulation
- Do not substitute Vidaza injection for oral azacitidine (Onereg).
- You should have blood tests performed to monitor your complete blood counts (CBCs) for anemia, neutropenia, and thrombocytopenia.
- Can cause renal (kidney) and hepatic (liver) toxicity. You should be monitored for signs of liver disease or kidney disease.
- Vidaza can suppress your immune system. Notify your doctor if you experience any signs of infection.
- Vidaza can cause harm to your fetus. You should use an effective form of contraception such as birth control pills while on Vidaza.
Vidaza drug interactions
When Vidaza is taken with other medications, it may change the way they work or increase the frequency and severity of side effects. Discuss with your doctor whether any of the prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and herbal supplements you take may interact with this medication.
Vidaza side effects
The most common side effects of Vidaza in clinical trials compared to placebo include:
- Thrombocytopenia (low platelet count)
- Injection site reaction
- Stomach pain
- Petechiae (tiny red spots or bruises)
- Sore throat
- Dry skin
- Loss of appetite
- Mouth sores or ulcers
In rare instances, Vidaza can cause more serious side effects, including:
- Severe allergic reaction, including hives, angioedema, and shortness of breath
- Chest pain
- Joint pain
- Irregular heartbeat
- Mental/mood changes
Contact your healthcare provider for medical advice about any adverse effects you experience while taking Vidaza. You can report your side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or www.fda.gov/medwatch.
Your healthcare professional can prescribe other chemotherapy drugs if Vidaza is not right for you. These medications will vary by different factors such as side effects and costs. Some FDA-approved alternatives to Vidaza include:
- Onereg (azacitidine)
- Dacogen (decitabine)
- Inquovi (cedazuridine/decitabine)
- Venclexta (venetoclax)
Can you take Vidaza while you are pregnant or breastfeeding?
Based on Vidaza’s mechanism of action and animal studies, it may cause harm to the fetus when given to pregnant women. Both men and women using Vidaza should use an effective form of birth control to prevent pregnancy.
While it is not known if Vidaza is found in breast milk, it is recommended that nursing women should stop breastfeeding during treatment and for at least one week after their last dose.
You should always discuss the risks and benefits of any medication with your healthcare provider if you are pregnant, plan on becoming pregnant, or are breastfeeding.
Will I lose my hair while taking Vidaza?
Your hair may get thinner, but it is unlikely that you will lose all your hair. Hair loss typically starts after your first or second treatment, but will usually grow back after your treatment ends.
Is Vidaza a chemotherapy drug?
Yes, Vidaza is a type of chemo drug called a hypomethylating agent. It works by switching off a protein that stops cancer cells from growing and dividing.
How long does it take for Vidaza to start working?
Vidaza may take around 4 to 6 months for your doctor to notice any change in your condition.
How long will I be on Vidaza?
You will be given treatment cycles of Vidaza every 28 days for as long as your healthcare provider thinks is necessary. Stopping Vidaza treatment may allow your symptoms to return so you may be on this medication for as long as you are seeing benefits and can tolerate it.
Is there a generic for Vidaza?
Currently, there is no generic Vidaza available on the market. However, you can still save on brand-name drugs like Vidaza through NiceRx if eligible for assistance.
The content on this website is intended for information purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice. The information on this website should not be relied upon and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always speak to your doctor regarding the risks and benefits of any treatment.