Pharmacologic class: Organic thiophosphate cytoprotective drug

Therapeutic class: Cytoprotectant

Pregnancy risk category C


Undergoes conversion to free thiol, an active metabolite that reduces toxic effects of cisplatin on renal tissue


Powder for injection: 500-mg anhydrous base and 500 mg mannitol in 10-ml vials

Indications and dosages

To reduce cumulative renal toxicity of cisplatin therapy in patients with ovarian cancer or non-small-cell lung

Adults: 910 mg/m2 I.V. daily as a 15-minute infusion, starting 30 minutes before chemotherapy

To reduce moderate to severe xerostomia in patients undergoing postoperative radiation treatment for head or neck cancer

Adults: 200 mg/m2 I.V. daily as a 3-minute infusion, starting 15 to 30 minutes before standard fraction radiation therapy

Off-label uses

• Protection against cisplatin- and paclitaxel-induced neurotoxicity


• Hypersensitivity to drug

• Hypotension


Use cautiously in:

• arrhythmias, heart failure, ischemic heart disease, renal impairment, hearing impairment, hypocalcemia, myasthenia gravis, nausea, vomiting, hypotension, obesity

• history of cerebrovascular accident or transient ischemic attacks

• concurrent antihypertensive therapy that can't be discontinued for 24 hours before amifostine therapy (not recommended)

• definitive radiotherapy (not recommended)

• elderly patients

• pregnant patients (safety and efficacy not established)

• breastfeeding patients

• children (safety and efficacy not established).


• Ensure that patient is adequately hydrated before starting drug.

• Give antiemetics before and during therapy.

• Reconstitute single-dose vial with 9.7 ml of sterile normal saline injection. May be further diluted with normal saline solution up to a concentration of 40 mg/ml.

• Don't mix with other drugs or solutions.

• Know that drug also can be prepared in polyvinyl chloride bags.

• Don't infuse longer than 15 minutes; doing so increases risk of adverse reactions.

Keep patient supine during administration.

Adverse reactions

CNS: dizziness, drowsiness, rigors

CV: hypotension

GI: nausea, vomiting

Metabolic: hypocalcemia

Respiratory: dyspnea, sneezing

Skin: flushing, rash, urticaria, erythema multiforme

Other: chills, warm sensation, hiccups, allergic reactions


Drug-drug. Antihypertensives: increased risk of hypotension

Drug-diagnostic tests. Calcium: decreased level

Patient monitoring

• Monitor blood pressure every 5 minutes during infusion and immediately after infusion as clinically indicated.

• Assess for severe nausea and vomiting.

• Monitor fluid intake and output.

• Monitor blood calcium level. Give calcium supplements as ordered.

Patient teaching

• Emphasize importance of remaining supine during drug administration to prevent hypotension.

• Caution patient to avoid driving and other hazardous activities until he knows how drug affects concentration and alertness.

• Advise patient to minimize GI upset by eating small, frequent servings of food and drinking plenty of fluids.

• Provide dietary counseling. Refer patient to dietitian if adverse GI effects significantly limit food intake.

• Inform patient that sneezing is a normal effect of drug.

• As appropriate, review all other significant and life-threatening adverse reactions and interactions, especially those related to the drugs and tests mentioned above.

McGraw-Hill Nurse's Drug Handbook, 7th Ed. Copyright © 2013 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved


(a-mi-fos-teen) ,


(trade name)


Therapeutic: cytoprotective agents
Pregnancy Category: C


Reduces renal toxicity from cisplatin.Reduces the incidence of moderate to severe xerostomia from postoperative radiation for head and neck cancer in which the radiation port includes a large portion of the parotid glands.


Converted by alkaline phosphatase in tissue to a free thiol compound that binds and detoxifies damaging metabolites of cisplatin and reactive oxygen species generated by radiation.

Therapeutic effects

Decreased renal damage from cisplatin.
Decreased severity of xerostomia following radiation for head and neck cancer.


Absorption: IV administration results in complete bioavailability.
Distribution: Unknown.
Metabolism and Excretion: Rapidly cleared from plasma; converted to cytoprotective compounds by alkaline phosphatase in tissues.
Half-life: 8 min.

Time/action profile



Contraindicated in: Known sensitivity to aminothiol compounds;Hypotension or dehydration; Lactation: Use an alternative to breast milk;Concurrent antineoplastic therapy for other tumors (especially malignancies of germ cell origin).
Use Cautiously in: Obstetric / Pediatric: Safety not established; Geriatric: Geriatric patients or patients with cardiovascular disease have ↑ risk of adverse reactions.

Adverse Reactions/Side Effects

Central nervous system

  • dizziness
  • somnolence

Ear, Eye, Nose, Throat

  • sneezing


  • hypotension (most frequent)


  • hiccups
  • nausea (most frequent)
  • vomiting (most frequent)


  • flushing

Fluid and Electrolyte

  • hypocalcemia


  • allergic reactions including anaphylaxis, stevens-johnson syndrome, toxic epidermal necrolysis, toxoderma, erythema multiforma, exfoliative dermatitis (↑ when used as a radioprotectant) (life-threatening)
  • chills


Drug-Drug interaction

Concurrent use of antihypertensives ↑ risk of hypotension.


Reduction of Renal Damage with Cisplatin

Intravenous (Adults) 910 mg/m2 once daily, within 30 min before chemotherapy; if full dose is poorly tolerated, subsequent doses should be ↓ to 740 mg/m2.

Reduction of Xerostomia from Radiation

Intravenous (Adults) 200 mg/m2 once daily, as a 3-minute infusion starting 15–30 min before standard fraction radiation therapy.

Availability (generic available)

Powder for injection: 500 mg/vial

Nursing implications

Nursing assessment

  • Monitor BP before and every 5 min during infusion. Discontinue antihypertensives 24 hr prior to treatment. If significant hypotension requiring interruption of therapy occurs, place patient in Trendelenburg position and administer an infusion of 0.9% NaCl using a separate IV line. If BP returns to normal in 5 min and patient is asymptomatic, infusion may be resumed so that full dose may be given.
  • Assess fluid status before administration. Correct dehydration before instituting therapy. Nausea and vomiting are frequent and may be severe. Administer prophylactic antiemetics including dexamethasone 20 mg IV and a serotonin-antagonist antiemetic (dolasetron, granisetron, ondansetron, palonosetron) before and during infusion. Monitor fluid status closely.
  • Observe patient for signs and symptoms of anaphylaxis (rash, pruritus, laryngeal edema, wheezing). Discontinue the drug and notify physician or other health care professional immediately if these problems occur. Keep epinephrine, an antihistamine, and resuscitation equipment close by in case of an anaphylactic reaction.
  • Xerostomia: Assess patient for dry mouth and mouth sores periodically during therapy.
  • Monitor patient for skin reactions before, during, and after amifostine administration; reactions may be delayed by several weeks after initiation of therapy. Permanently discontinue amifostine in patients who experience serious or severe cutaneous reactions or cutaneous reactions associated with fever or other symptoms of unknown cause. Withhold therapy and obtain dermatologic consultation and biopsy for cutaneous reactions or mucosal lesions of unknown cause appearing outside of injection site or radiation port, and for erythematous, edematous, or bullous lesions on the palms of the hand or soles of the feet.
  • Lab Test Considerations: Monitor serum calcium concentrations before and periodically during therapy. May cause hypocalcemia. Calcium supplements may be necessary.

Potential Nursing Diagnoses

Risk for injury (Indications)


  • Intravenous Administration
  • pH: 7.0.
  • Intermittent Infusion: Diluent: Reconstitute with 9.7 mL of sterile 0.9% NaCl. Dilute further with 0.9% NaCl. Do not administer solutions that are discolored or contain particulate matter. Solution is stable for 5 hr at room temperature or 24 hr if refrigerated.Concentration: Adults: dilute dose to a final volume of 50 mL; Children: 5–40 mg/mL.
  • Rate: For renal toxicity: Administer over 15 min within 30 min before chemotherapy administration. Longer infusion times are not as well tolerated. For xerostomia: Administer over 3 min starting 15–30 min prior to radiation therapy.
  • Y-Site Compatibility: amikacin, aminophylline, amphotericin B liposome, ampicillin, ampicillin/sulbactam, aztreonam, bivalirudin, bleomycin, bumetanide, buprenorphine, butorphanol, calcium gluconate, carboplatin, carmustine, caspofungin, cefazolin, cefotaxime, cefotetan, cefoxitin, ceftazidime, ceftriaxone, cefuroxime, cimetidine, ciprofloxacin, clindamycin, cyclophosphamide, cytarabine, dacarbazine, dactinomycin, daptomycin, daunorubicin hydrochloride, dexamethasone, dexmedetomidine, diltiazem, diphenhydramine, dobutamine, docetaxel, dopamine, doxorubicin hydrochloride, doxycycline, droperidol, enalaprilat, epirubicin, ertapenem, etoposide, etoposide phosphate, famotidine, fenoldopam, floxuridine, fluconazole, fludarabine, fluorouracil, furosemide, gemcitabine, gentamicin, granisetron, haloperidol, heparin, hydrocortisone, hydromorphone, idarubicin, ifosfamide, imipenem/cilastatin, leucovorin, levofloxacin, linezolid, lorazepam, magnesium sulfate, mannitol, mechlorethamine, meperidine, mesna, methotrexate, methylprednisolone, metoclopramide, metronidazole, milrinone, mitomycin, morphine, nalbuphine, nesiritide, octreotide, ondansetron, oxaliplatin, paclitaxel, palonosetron, pantoprazole, pemetrexed, piperacillin/tazobactam, potassium chloride, promethazine, ranitidine, rituximab, sodium acetate, sodium bicarbonate, streptozocin, tacrolimus, teniposide, thiotepa, ticarcillin/clavulanate, tigecycline, tirofiban, tobramycin, trastuzumab, trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole, vancomycin, vasopressin, vecuronium, vinblastine, vincristine, vinorelbine, voriconazole, zidovudine
  • Y-Site Incompatibility: acyclovir, amphotericin B colloidal, cefoperazone, cisplatin, ganciclovir, hydroxyzine, minocycline, prochlorperazine, quinupristin/dalfopristin
  • Additive Incompatibility: Do not mix with other solutions or medications.

Patient/Family Teaching

  • Explain the purpose of amifostine infusion to patient.
  • Inform patient that amifostine may cause hypotension, nausea, vomiting, flushing, chills, dizziness, somnolence, hiccups, and sneezing.
  • Advise patient to notify health care professional if skin reactions occur.

Evaluation/Desired Outcomes

  • Prevention of renal toxicity associated with repeated administration of cisplatin in patients with ovarian cancer.
  • Decreased severity of xerostomia from radiation treatment of head and neck cancer.
Drug Guide, © 2015 Farlex and Partners


A brand name for AMIFOSTINE.
Collins Dictionary of Medicine © Robert M. Youngson 2004, 2005
References in periodicals archive ?
Ethyol is indicated to reduce the cumulative renal toxicity associated with repeated administration of cisplatin in patients with advanced ovarian cancer.
LONDON (Alliance News) - Clinigen Group PLC on Wednesday said it has agreed to retake the US commercial rights to oncology products Ethyol and Totect from Cumberland Pharmaceuticals Inc.
The group currently owns three product assets within the US - Foscavir, Ethyol and Totect with commercial rights currently licensed to Pfizer (Foscavir) and Cumberland Pharmaceuticals (Ethyol and Totect).
It has also partnered with US counterpart Cumberland Pharmaceuticals to commercialise its oncology support drug Ethyol, which helps combat side effects from radiation treatment.
- Nashville, Tennessee-based specialty pharmaceutical company Cumberland Pharmaceuticals has expanded its medical specialties to include oncology-related medications with two initial supportive care medications: Ethyol (amifostine) injection and Totect (dexrazoxane hydrochloride) injection, the company said.
Given the high cost and side effects of radioprotective agents such as amifostine (WR-2721; Ethyol; C sub 5 H.sub 15N.sub O SUB 3PS), it is a phosphorylated aminothiol compound that can protect normal bone marrow cells from the toxicity of alkylating agents, radiation therapy, and photo-active agents, among other drugs (Douay et al.
(Detroit, MI) has executed a settlement agreement with MedImmune, stipulating the dismissal of the lawsuits filed in the United States District Court for the District of Maryland regarding the submission of an Abbreviated New Drug Application (ANDA) for a generic version of Ethyol.
We put him on the full LOC [Life Over Cancer] program, as well as the conventional drug Ethyol (amifostine), which protects against the renal toxicity associated with cisplatin.
Amifostine for Injection Sun Pharmaceutical Ethyol for
Astra, which recently settled a patent dispute with an Indian firm over Nexium, also wrote off pounds 130.1m over a potential generic threat to cancer treatment Ethyol.