Anagrelide, with brand name Agrilyn® and Xagrid®, is a drug often prescribed in patients with essential thrombocythemia (ET), a type of myeloproliferative disorder. Myeloproliferative disorders are conditions characterized by overproduction of blood cells, such as white blood cells, platelets, or red blood cells. In cases of ET, the platelets are usually being produced excessively. The action of anagrelide is mostly directed on the maturation process of the megakaryocyte, the cell where platelets come from. This drug is available in the form 0.5-milligram (mg) capsules.
Platelets, which are small and irregularly-shaped elements present in the blood, are generally important in controlling bleeding during an injury. When there are too many of them in the circulation, such as in individuals with ET, clots can form in some parts of the body, such as the brain and feet. In some instances, this condition can also result in bleeding problems. Signs of bleeding to watch out for include skin bruises, gum bleeding, and presence of blood in the urine and stools.
Patients should strictly follow their doctor's instructions regarding dosage, and when and how long to take anagrelide in order to prevent complications. During the first week of treatment, patients may need to have their platelets counted every couple of days in order for physicians to determine the right amount of medication for each patient. Overdose with this drug can generally lead to lower-than-normal platelet count. When this happens, patients may experience bleeding in the skin and other parts of the body. Other symptoms of overdose include vomiting and increased heart rate.
The side effects of anagrelide include weakness, dizziness, headache, vomiting, and diarrhea. When these symptoms persistently occur, it is often important to inform the doctor. Patients who develop rashes, swallowing difficulty, and swelling of the face often need immediate medical attention as they can be suffering from allergic reactions to the drug. Anagrelide may also have harmful effects on the heart, and can lead to hypertension, chest pain, and other heart problems. This is why patients typically are closely monitored during treatment to evaluate their response to the drug and its effects on them.
Women taking anagrelide are often advised not to get pregnant because this drug is considered harmful to the baby in the womb. Breastfeeding is also not recommended. The effectiveness of anagrelide may also be affected by other drugs, so patients should inform their doctors if they are taking over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, or some food supplements.