Omacetaxine
Other Names: Synribo®

About This Drug

Omacetaxine is used to treat cancer. It is given by a shot below your skin (subcutaneous injection).

Possible Side Effects (More Common)

  • Bone marrow depression. This is a decrease in the number of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. This may raise your risk of infection, make you tired and weak (fatigue), and raise your risk of bleeding.
  • Loose bowel movements (diarrhea) that may last for a few days
  • Increased uric acid in your blood caused by an effect on your cells. Your doctor will check your liver function as needed.

Possible Side Effects (Less Common)

  • Nausea and throwing up (vomiting). These symptoms may happen within a few hours after your treatment and may last up to 24 hours. Medicines are available to stop or lessen these side effects.
  • Skin and tissue irritation may involve redness, pain, warmth, or swelling at the injection site.
  • Tiredness
  • Generalized weakness and discomfort (aches or pains)
  • Rash
  • Hair loss. You may notice hair getting thin. Some patients lose their hair. Your hair often grows back when treatment is done.

Treating Side Effects

  • Drink 6-8 cups of fluids each day unless your doctor has told you to limit your fluid intake due to some other health problem. A cup is 8 ounces of fluid. If you throw up or have loose bowel movements, you should drink more fluids so that you do not become dehydrated (lack water in the body from losing too much fluid).
  • Ask your doctor or nurse about medicine that is available to help stop or lessen the loose bowel movements.
  • While you are getting this drug, please tell your nurse right away if you have any pain, redness, or swelling at the site of injection.
  • If you get a rash do not put anything on it unless your doctor or nurse says you may. Keep the area around the rash clean and dry. Ask your doctor for medicine if your rash bothers you.
  • Talk with your nurse about getting a wig before you lose your hair. Also, call the American Cancer Society at 800-ACS-2345 to find out information about the “Look Good, Feel Better” program close to where you live. It is a free program where women getting chemotherapy can learn about wigs, turbans and scarves as well as makeup techniques and skin and nail care.

Food and Drug Interactions

There are no known interactions of omacetaxine with food. This drug may interact with other medications. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the medication and dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs, and others) that you are currently taking. The safety and effectiveness of dietary supplements and alternative diets are often unknown. Using these might unexpectedly affect your cancer or interfere with your treatment. Until more is known, you should not use dietary supplements or alternative diets without your cancer doctor's advice.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor or nurse immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever of 100.5 F (38 C) or higher
  • Chills
  • Easy bleeding or bruising
  • Wheezing or trouble breathing
  • Rash or itching
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Feeling that your heart is beating in a fast or not normal way (palpitations)
  • Loose bowel movements (diarrhea) more than 4 times a day or diarrhea with weakness or lightheadedness
  • Pain when passing urine; blood in urine
  • Pain in your lower back or side
  • Nausea that stops you from eating or drinking
  • Throwing up more than 3 times a day

Call your doctor or nurse as soon as possible if any of the following symptoms occur:

  • Nausea that is not relieved by prescribed medicines
  • Rash that is not relieved by prescribed medicines
  • Heavy menstrual period that lasts longer than normal
  • Fatigue that interferes with your daily activities
  • Extreme weakness that interferes with normal activities

Reproduction Concerns

  • Pregnancy warning: This drug may have harmful effects on the unborn child, so effective methods of birth control should be used during your cancer treatment. Genetic counseling is available for you to talk about the effects of this drug therapy on future pregnancies. Also, a genetic counselor can look at the possible risk of problems in the unborn baby due to this medicine if an exposure happens during pregnancy.
  • Breast feeding warning: It is not known if this drug passes into breast milk. For this reason, women should talk to their doctor about the risks and benefits of breast feeding during treatment with this drug because this drug may enter the breast milk and badly harm a breast feeding baby.
  • Fertility risk: In men, this drug may interfere with your ability to make sperm. Talk with your doctor or nurse if you plan to have children. Ask for information on sperm banking.

Updated January 2017

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