Amifostine (Ethyol®)

About This Drug

Amifostine is used to help protect certain body cells from the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy. It is given in the vein (IV).

Possible Side Effects

  • Nausea and throwing up (vomiting)
  • Low blood pressure
  • Fever, chills
  • Hot flashes or sudden skin flushing may happen. You may also feel warm or red
  • Feeling dizzy
  • Extreme tiredness or feeling sleepy
  • Hiccups
  • Sneezing
  • Rash
  • Loose bowel movements (diarrhea)
  • Blurred vision
  • Injection site reaction- you may get a rash, swelling or bruising or your skin may get red, warm, itchy or painful at the site of your infusion or injection

Note: Not all possible side effects are included above.

Warnings and Precautions

  • Severely low blood pressure. Your blood pressure will be monitored as needed. If you have high blood pressure, you may need to hold your blood pressure medication, please speak to your doctor.
  • Allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis are rare but may happen in some patients. If this happens, do not take another dose of this drug. You should get urgent medical treatment. Signs of allergic reaction to this drug may be:
    • Swelling of the face
    • Feeling like your tongue or throat are swelling
    • Trouble breathing
    • Rash
    • Itching
    • Fever
    • Chills
    • Feeling dizzy
    • Feeling that your heart is beating in a fast or not normal way
  • Severe allergic skin reaction. You may develop blisters on your skin that are filled with fluid or a severe red rash all over your body that may be painful.
  • Low calcium

Treating Side Effects

Drink plenty of fluids (a minimum of eight glasses per day is recommended).

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).

To help with nausea and vomiting, eat small, frequent meals instead of three large meals a day. Choose foods and drinks that are at room temperature. Ask your nurse or doctor about other helpful tips and medicine that is available to help or stop lessen these symptoms.

If you get diarrhea, eat low-fiber foods that are high in protein and calories and avoid foods that can irritate your digestive tracts or lead to cramping.

Ask your nurse or doctor about medicine that can lessen or stop your diarrhea.

If you are dizzy, get up slowly after sitting or lying. • 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.

While you are getting this drug, please tell your nurse right away if you get a rash, swelling or bruising or your skin gets red, warm, itchy or painful at the site of your infusion or injection.

Food and Drug Interactions

There are no known interactions of amifostine with food.

Check with your doctor or pharmacist about all other prescription medicines and dietary supplements you are taking before starting this medicine as there are a lot of known drug interactions with amifostine. Also, check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting any new prescription or over-the-counter medicines, or dietary supplement to make sure that there are no interactions.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor or nurse if you have any of these symptoms and/or any new or unusual symptoms:

  • Fever of 100.5 F (38 C) or higher
  • Chills
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Blurred vision or other changes in eyesight
  • Fatigue that interferes with your daily activities
  • Feeling that your heart is beating in a fast or not normal way (palpitations)
  • Nausea that stops you from eating or drinking and/or is not relieved by prescribed medicines
  • Throwing up more than 3 times a day
  • Loose bowel movements (diarrhea) 4 times a day or loose bowel movements with lack of strength or a feeling of being dizzy
  • Signs of allergic reaction: swelling of the face, feeling like your tongue or throat are swelling, trouble breathing, rash, itching, fever, chills, feeling dizzy, and/or feeling that your heart is beating in a fast or not normal way
  • Flu-like symptoms: fever, headache, muscle and joint aches, and fatigue (low energy, feeling weak)
  • A new rash or a rash that is not relieved by prescribed medicines
  • If you think you are pregnant or may have impregnated your partner

Reproduction Warnings

  • Pregnancy warning: It is not known if this drug may harm an unborn child. For this reason, be sure to talk with your doctor if you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant while receiving this drug. Let your doctor know right away if you think you may be pregnant or may have impregnated your partner.
  • Breastfeeding warning: It is not known if this drug passes into breast milk. Women should not breast feed during treatment because this drug could enter the breast milk and cause harm to a breast feeding baby.
  • Fertility warning: Human fertility studies have not been done with this drug. Talk with your doctor or nurse if you plan to have children.

Revised September 2017