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Etoposide parenteral

Updated 2 Feb 2023 | Vinca alkaloids and etoposide


Concentrate for infusions of etoposide

Drugs List

  • etoposide 100mg/5ml concentrate for solution for infusion
  • etoposide 500mg/25ml concentrate for solution for infusion
  • Therapeutic Indications


    Leukaemia - acute myeloid
    Small cell lung cancer
    Testicular carcinoma - non-seminomatous

    Resistant non-seminomatous testicular tumours in combination with other chemotherapeutic agents.

    Small cell lung cancer, in combination with other chemotherapeutic agents.

    Acute monoblastic leukaemia (AML M5) and acute myelomonoblasic leukaemia (AML M4) when standard induction therapy has failed (in combination with other chemotherapeutic agents).

    Unlicensed Uses

    Childhood rhabdomyosarcoma
    Neuroblastoma in childhood
    Soft tissue tumours of childhood

    In paediatric patients:
    Acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, acute myeloid leukaemia, Ewing tumour, germ-cell tumours, neuroectodermal tumours, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, relapsed Hodgkin's disease, rhabdomyosarcoma, soft tissue sarcoma, stage 4 neuroblastoma.


    Due to the complexity and specialist nature of dosage regimens for the treatment of malignant disease, specific dosing information on this agent is not included.
    Doses may vary significantly if this agent is used as monotherapy or different combinations.
    When using this agent, specialist literature, national guidelines, cancer network protocols and Trust chemotherapy protocols should be consulted.

    Patients with Renal Impairment

    Creatinine clearance greater than 50ml/minute
    Dose as normal.
    Creatinine clearance between 15 and 50ml/minute
    75% of normal dose.
    Creatinine clearance less than 15ml/minute
    No data available, consider further dose reductions.

    The Renal Drug Handbook suggests the following reductions
    GFR greater than 50ml/minute
    Dose as normal.
    GFR 15 to 50ml/minute
    75% of normal dose.
    GFR less than 15ml/minute
    50% of normal dose.


    For slow intravenous infusion, usually between 30 and 60 minutes. Longer infusion times may be required based on individual patient tolerance.


    Uncontrolled systemic infection
    Severe hepatic impairment
    Severe myelosuppression

    Precautions and Warnings

    Children under 3 years
    Herpes zoster
    Hypersensitivity to benzyl alcohol
    Neutrophil count below 1.5 x 10 to the power of 9 / L
    Platelet count below 100 x 10 to the power of 9/ L
    Bone marrow depression after radiotherapy or other antineoplastic agents
    Brain damage
    Epileptic disorder
    Hepatic disorder
    Renal impairment - creatinine clearance below 50ml/minute

    Administration of live vaccines is not recommended
    Reduce dose in patients with creatinine clearance below 50ml/min
    Advise ability to drive/operate machinery may be affected by side effects
    Give pre-treatment counselling and consideration of sperm cryopreservation
    Maintain adequate hydration of patient prior / during treatment
    Not all available brands are licensed for all indications
    Treat and control infections prior to commencing therapy
    Treatment to be initiated and supervised by a specialist
    Contains alcohol
    Contains polysorbate
    Some presentations may contain benzyl alcohol
    Consult local policy on the safe use of anti-cancer drugs
    If extravasation occurs follow local policy & seek expert help immediately
    Interrupt treatment if infusion reaction occurs & monitor until resolution
    Staff: Not to be handled by pregnant staff
    Monitor hepatic function before treatment and regularly during treatment
    Monitor renal function before treatment and regularly during treatment
    Monitor complete blood counts before each dose
    Monitor neurological function
    Monitor patients for signs of tumour lysis syndrome
    Advise patient to report symptoms of infection immediately
    May cause anaphylactic / anaphylactoid reactions
    Potentially leukaemogenic
    Potentially mutagenic and carcinogenic
    Interrupt treatment and/or reduce dose for any grade 3 toxicity
    Reduce dose if neutrophil count <0.5x10 to the power 9/L for 5 days or more
    Reduce dose if neutrophils < 0.5 x 10 to the power 9/L with fever/infection
    Not licensed for use in children under 18 years
    Reduce dose if platelets <25 x 10 to the power of 9/L
    Male: May cause infertility
    Male & female: Contraception required during & for 6 months after treatment

    A new treatment cycle should only be started if neutrophil count is greater than 1.5 x 10 to the power of 9/L and platelet count is greater than 100 x 10 to the power 9/L unless caused by malignant disease.

    If severe reactions occur the dose should be reduced or discontinued and appropriate corrective measures initiated. Re-initiation of etoposide should be carried out with caution and consideration to the risks versus the benefits.

    Pregnancy and Lactation


    Etoposide is contraindicated during pregnancy.

    At the time of writing there is limited published information regarding the use of etoposide during pregnancy. Given the mutagenic potential of etoposide, its use during pregnancy is contraindicated by the manufacturer.

    Studies in rats and mice have shown teratogenic effects. The effects of concurrent therapies must also be considered.

    The use of all medication in pregnancy should be avoided whenever possible; particularly in the first trimester. Non-drug treatments should also be considered. When essential, a medication with the best safety record over time should be chosen, employing the lowest effective dose for the shortest possible time. Polypharmacy should be avoided. Teratogens taken in the pre-embryonic period, often quoted as lasting until 14 to 17 days post-conception, are believed to have an all-or-nothing effect. Where drugs have a short half-life, and when the date of conception is certain, this may allow women to be reassured where drug exposure has occurred within this time frame. Further advice may be available from the UK National Teratology Information Service (NTIS) and through ToxBase, available via password on the internet ( ) or if this is unavailable at the backup site ( ).


    Etoposide is contraindicated in breastfeeding.

    Etoposide is excreted into human breast milk and there is a potential for severe toxicity in the nursing infant. Briggs suggests that breastfeeding should be stopped for at least 55 hours after the last dose of etoposide, based on its half life, while LactMed suggests anywhere between 24 and 72 hours, depending on dosage.

    The effect of concurrent therapies must also be considered.

    Neonates, infants born prematurely, those with low birth weight, those with an unstable gastrointestinal function or who have serious illnesses may require special consideration. For any infant, if a drug is prescribed to the nursing mother, it should be at the lowest practical dose and for the shortest time. When drug administration is unavoidable and breastfeeding is to continue, minimisation of exposure of the infant to the drug may sometimes be achieved by timing the maternal doses to just after a feeding episode. Infants exposed to drugs via breast milk should be monitored for unusual signs or symptoms. Interactions between the drug received by the infant from the mother's milk and medication prescribed for the infant should also be considered, for example, when the drug given to the infant may prevent metabolism of the drug received via breast milk.
    Specialist advice is available from the UK Drugs in Lactation Advisory Service at

    Side Effects

    Abdominal pain
    Acute leukaemia
    Altered liver function tests
    Anaphylactoid-like reaction
    Aspartate aminotransferase increased
    Cortical blindness (transient)
    Hand-foot syndrome
    Hepatic impairment
    Hypersensitivity reactions including anaphylaxis
    Increase in alkaline phosphatase
    Increased susceptibility to infection
    Interstitial pneumonitis
    Myelodysplastic syndrome
    Myocardial infarction
    Optic neuritis
    Peripheral neuropathy
    Phlebitis (injection site)
    Pulmonary fibrosis
    Radiation recall dermatitis
    Renal impairment
    Serum bilirubin increased
    Skin discolouration
    Stevens-Johnson syndrome
    Taste disturbances
    Toxic epidermal necrolysis
    Tumour lysis syndrome


    It is strongly recommended that the UK National Poisons Information Service be consulted on cases of suspected or actual overdose where there is doubt over the degree of risk or about appropriate management.

    The following number will direct the caller to the relevant local centre (0844) 892 0111

    Information may be obtained if you have access to ToxBase the primary clinical toxicology database of the National Poisons Information Service. This is available via password on the internet ( ) or if this is unavailable at the backup site ( ).

    Further Information

    Last Full Review Date: March 2019

    Reference Sources

    Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation: A Reference Guide to Fetal and Neonatal Risk, 10th edition (2015) ed. Briggs, G., Freeman, R. Wolters Kluwer Health, Philadelphia.

    Summary of Product Characteristics: Etoposide 20mg/ml. medac GmbH. Revised January 2019.
    Summary of Product Characteristics: Etoposide 20mg/ml. Accord Healthcare Ltd. Revised March 2015.
    Summary of Product Characteristics: Etoposide 20mg/ml. Actavis UK ltd . Revised December 2014.
    Summary of Product Characteristics: Etoposide 20mg/ml. Teva. Revised January 2018.
    Summary of Product Characteristics: Etoposide 20mg/ml. Fresenius Kabi. Revised August 2014.

    The Renal Drug Handbook. Fourth Edition (2014) ed. Ashley, C and Dunleavy, A, Radcliffe Publishing Ltd, London.

    NICE Evidence Services Available at: Last accessed: 11 March 2019

    US National Library of Medicine. Toxicology Data Network. Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed).
    Available at:
    Etoposide Last revised: 31 October 2018
    Last accessed: 11 March 2019

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