Eribulin is a drug that is commonly used to fight metastatic breast cancer. Patients who take this medication are usually in the late stages of the disease and have already had multiple rounds of chemotherapy. The drug has been found to increase survival rates when other treatments have failed. It is marketed under the brand name Halaven™.
The drug works by clinging to a protein known as tublin so that it cannot contribute to the cell division that causes cancer cell growth. Its active ingredient is a substance called halichondrin B, which occurs naturally in sea sponges, but is manufactured for eribulin. It is in the microtubule dynamic inhibitor class of drugs.
Eribulin is dosed via intravenous injection. A typical cycle consists of two doses which are given to the patient in the first half of a 21-day period. This cycle is repeated as long as the prescribing doctor deems necessary. Depending on patient reaction, dosage may be altered to avoid side effects. Eribulin is typically administered in a medical facility.
Patients should discuss their full medical history and medication use with a doctor before taking eribulin. Some drugs may have a negative interaction unless an adjusted dosage is prescribed. Many doctors will also watch a patient who is also taking other drugs more carefully for side effects. Taking the drug may be too risky for patients who have or have had long QT syndrome.
The most common side effects of eribulin tend to be mild and need only be discussed with a doctor if they do not eventually subside or if they become serious. They include weak appetite, nausea, and weight loss. Some patients also report uncharacteristic tiredness, weakness, and headache. Hair loss and pain in the back, bones, and joints have also been reported.
Some potential side effects of eribulin are severe and should receive immediate medical attention. These include breathing problems, unusually pale skin, and irregular heartbeat. A numb, tingling, or burning sensation in the extremities may also be serious. Signs of infection, such as fever and chills, should also be reported.
There have been studies conducted to determine whether Eribulin may be prescribed for other uses. The bulk of the research has focused on how the drug affects other tumors. Some of the other conditions it is slated to treat include sarcoma, lung cancer, and prostate cancer. Scientists have also studied the effects of the drug in order to learn how it may be altered so that it can further increase life expectancy.