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What is Novantrone®?

By Jacquelyn Gilchrist
Updated May 17, 2024
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Novantrone® is a brand name for the generic medication mitoxantrone. It is prescribed for patients with multiple sclerosis (MS), and in some circumstances, it may also be used for patients with advanced prostate cancer or acute nonlymphocytic leukemia. Novantrone® is a medication called an anthracenedione.

For cancer patients, it works by halting the spread of cancer cells. Novantrone® treats MS by suppressing the immune system. It stops certain immune system cells from traveling to the spinal cord and brain, where they would then cause damage. The end result is that Novantrone® can help slow the progression of the disease and reduce the number of MS episodes, or periods of exacerbated symptoms.

Novantrone® is given by intravenous injection only. The MS patient must go to a hospital or clinic every three months, or as directed by the doctor. A health care professional will then administer the medication. It is likely that the course of treatment will last two to three years. There is no cure for multiple sclerosis, however this medication may help manage the disease.

When going to an appointment to receive an injection of Novantrone®, patients should plan to wear comfortable clothing. The health care staff will check the patient's weight, blood pressure, and pulse. A doctor may adjust the dosage, as needed. The injection itself typically takes about two hours to complete. Before undergoing this treatment, the doctor will likely order blood tests and an electrocardiogram (EKG) and conduct a physical examination. Patients may also have an echocardiogram, which evaluates the strength of the heart muscle.

Not all multiple sclerosis patients are good candidates for receiving Novantrone® treatment. Those who have heart disease may experience dangerous side effects that may possibly be fatal. Patients with gout, an infection, or dental disease may be unable to have this treatment. Recent chemotherapy or radiation therapy may preclude a patient from using Novantrone®. In addition, women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should never take this drug.

Patients should be aware that the use of Novantrone® leads to a high risk of heart damage. The heart should be checked regularly throughout and after the the course of treatment. This drug may also increase the risk of leukemia, particularly when used in high dosages or in conjunction with chemotherapy drugs.

Certain effects are likely to occur. Patients should not worry if they notice that the whites of their eyes turn slightly blue for several days following an injection. It can also turn urine a bluish-greenish color for the following 24 hours. Some other possible side effects can include nausea, vomiting, and irregular menstrual periods. Mouth sores, loss of appetite, and excessive fatigue may occur.

Immediate medical help is needed for patients experiencing severe side effects, such as shortness of breath, problems swallowing, and jaundice. Dizziness, fainting, and seizures are possible. Patients may also notice small purple or red dots on their skin, or discoloration, pain, and swelling at the injection site. Hives, pale skin, and a rash are also possible.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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