1 What is Ethyol?

Brand: Ethyol

Generic: Amifostine

Ethyol is the cytoprotective agent which is usually used to protect the normal tissues from the damaging effects exerted by radiation and/or chemotherapy.

Amifostine is a prodrug that is broken down by dephosphorylation in the normal endothelium into thiol which is the active form. The mechanism of action consists of free-radical scavenging, repair acceleration, DNA protection and induction of hypoxia at the cellular level.

The most common use of amifostine is to reduce the renal toxicity which is caused by repeated administration of cisplatin in patients with advanced ovarian cancer.

It is also used in patients undergoing postoperative radiation treatment for head and neck cancer to reduce the incidence of moderate to severe xerostomia.

2 What to Know Before Using

Before using Ethyol, you must know all about the risks and complications associated with it.

After an adequate preclinical and clinical research, amifostine is approved as the 1st radioprotective drug for clinical practices. It is widely used for prevention of the unwanted adverse effects on the kidneys and salivary glands that take place because of cisplatin administration or radiotherapy.  

Amifostine usage has become popular because of some important beneficial effects such as:

  • Relieving the dry mouth problem in patients with head and neck cancer who are receiving radiation treatment
  • Reducing the harmful effects of chemotherapy on the kidneys.
  • Prevention of inflammation of the lining of the rectum in the patients undergoing radiotherapy for rectal cancer.

Amifostine is used with some specific types of chemotherapy in order to protect the body from the serious side effects of the chemotherapy. Actually it does not eliminate all the side effects. Rather, it can reduce some particular side effects.

Amifostine acts as a scavenger and deactivates the harmful elements of chemotherapy binding with those harmful components. Free radicals produced by cisplatin or radiation therapy in tissues are considered as the harmful elements.

3 Proper Usage

To use Ethyol correctly, you must follow all instructions given by your doctor.

Amifostone is usually given intravenously about 15 to 30 minutes before starting chemotherapy or radiotherapy. Prior to amifostine administration, patients are advised to drink plenty of water or fluids. 

It is recommended to monitor blood pressure frequently. A suitable anti-nausea medicine should be used in conjunction with Amifostine. During the intravenous administration of amifostine the patient should be in lying down position with facing up.

The requirement of Amifostine usually depends upon some factors including height and weight, nutritional status, health problems, and the type of cancer being treated.

The health professional determines the dose and schedule.

4 Precautions to Take

In using Ethyol, you must be careful and take some precautions as advised by your doctor.

Regular visits are recommended to make sure this medicine is working properly or not. Some important measures should be taken if you feel any discomfort following any drug therapy. Firstly, you should stop using the drug and then consult with your physician immediately. Amifostine is also responsible for the side effects of its own so it is used only with some specific types of chemotherapy or when the estimated benefit is clearly greater than the potential risk.

Certain drugs should not be used concurrently with such medications. It is always recommended to consult with your doctor if you are in need of some drugs for another health problem. Sometimes it is must to avoid some particular medicines during this drug therapy in order to get rid of serious drug reactions.

Before starting Amifostine therapy, you should tell your doctor about any other drugs including herbal remedies or vitamins you are receiving. This medicine is not advised for those who have had allergic reactions to such type of drugs or its constituents.

Antihypertensive drugs should be stopped for 24 hours before Amifostine administrations. In case of pregnancy, you should discuss with your doctor about the risk and benefit ratio of receiving such therapy as this drug belongs to pregnancy category C.

It is advised not to conceive a child while undergoing amifostine therapy.

5 Potential Side Effects

There are some unwanted side-effects associated with Ethyol that usually do not need medical attention. These side-effects usually go away during the treatment episode as your body adjusts to the medicine. Additionally, your health care professional may advise you about the ways how to prevent or reduce those unwanted side-effects. Sometimes you may need to consult with the doctor if you feel any serious discomfort. The following side effects may occur while taking amifostine:

  • Nausea and vomiting: these symptoms may become severe and require some medications for management. Additionally, some healthful dietary habits help you to get rid of such conditions. You should avoid some kinds of foods icluding heavy fatty, spicy or acidic foods which may worsen these symptoms. You can try antacids, oral saline, or any drug recommended by your doctor to lessen the symptoms. 
  • Hypotension (low blood pressure): this drug causes a decrease in blood pressure i.e. hypotension in almost all patients. That’s why, it is always advised to monitor blood pressure of a patient undergoing amifostine infusion for the safety.
  • Dermatological reactions: this drug may cause some cutaneous reactions such as erythema multiforme, stevens-Johnson syndrome, exfoliative dermatitis, toxoderma, toxic epidermal necrolysis etc. you should not delay to report any skin changes to your doctor. 
  • Hypocalcaemia: amifostine decreases the level of calcium in blood. Lower blood calcium is responsible for muscle spasm, muscle twisting, numbness, tingling of fingers and toes etc. Thus, calcium supplements are needed to correct these.
  • Others: flushing of face, redness around the moth or neck, rashes, dizziness, sleepiness, sneezing, hiccups, feeling of hot or cold etc.