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Hydrea (Hydroxyurea)

Warning: There are many benefits of taking Hydrea, but there are also some severe, sometimes fatal reactions to it. Your doctor will monitor you closely while taking this medication.

Certain cancers have been reported while taking this medication, but the cause is yet to be determined. Consult with your doctor of all the risks associated with taking this drug. 

Indications: This drug is used to treat sickle cell anemia, in order to reduce the number of painful crises caused by the disease and to lower the use of blood transfusions. It is also used to treat other types of cancer, such as melanoma, chronic myelogenous leukemia and squamous cell carcinomas.

 

There are also other cancers that this drug can treat, but only when prescribed by your doctor. Polycythemia vera (also known as erythremia, or primary polycythemia) and thrombocythemia are two types of cancer that may be treated with this medication. 

Dosage: Talk to your pharmacist and doctor about the instructions before taking this medication. Hydrea comes as in capsule to be taken by mouth. It is usually taken once a day with food. Take the whole pill at one time and don’t crush, chew or open the capsules. Wash your hands after handling this medication.

Dosage of this treatment depends on your response to therapy, laboratory results and weight. Your doctor will monitor your blood counts regularly and may stop the therapy for a short time if it appears to be low.

Medical professionals that handle this drug should always wear gloves and use paper towels if the drug is spilled. Pregnant women should avoid any contact with this drug as it can be absorbed through the skin and be inhaled through the lungs. 

Storage: store Hydrea at room temperature (15-25 ° C), away from heat above 40 ° C, light and moisture. Keep the medication out of the reach of children . Hydrea and all other drugs should not be used beyond the expiration date printed on the container.    

Overdose: Hydrea can cause a life-threatening decrease in the number of blood cells in your body. As with any drug, Hydrea overdose may be dangerous, mainly if taken for long term. In fact, an overdose of Hydrea can lead to death in fragile patients. Contact your doctor or the poison control center nearest you if you experience the following symptoms:  

  • dizziness
  • confusion 
  • fast heartbeat 
  • shortness of breath 
  • unusual bleeding or bruising  
  • Signs of infection: fever, sore throat, chills, cough, etc.

Missing dose: take Hydrea and all medications as prescribed. In case you forget to take a dose, take the missed one as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, do not double the next dose to recover the missing, it can be dangerous. Contact your doctor or wait to go back to your regular schedule. This applies not only to Hydrea but also any other drug.  

Contraindications: Tell your doctor of all allergies you may have. You might have an allergic reaction to some of the inactive ingredients in this treatment.

Your doctor should also be aware of any liver or kidney disease, blood/bone marrow disorders, high uric acid levels in the blood and HIV infections that you have had.

Don’t have any immunizations while on this medication and avoid people that have had live immunizations, such as inhaled through the nose flu vaccines.

Hydrea may cause your body to be less effective in removing infections that you currently have, as well as make your chances of getting one more likely. Wash your hands to lessen your chances and stay away from people with infections.

Pregnant women should not handle or use this medication, as there is a high risk for birth defects.

Mechanism of action (MOA): Hydrea belongs to the class of chemotherapy drugs called antimetabolites. Normally, before a cell divides into two, its DNA is copied and each daughter cell receives a copy. Hydrea slows or stops growth of cancer cells by interfering with their DNA material they need for reproduction.  

Interactions: Your doctor should know all of the medications you are taking while on Hydrea to avoid any interactions. Didanoside and interferon are drugs that are known to cause interactions. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are taking any of these medications: 

  • Aids/HIV medications such as didanosine (Videx) and stavudine (Zerit)
  • sulfinpyrazone (Anturane)
  • Probenecid (Benuryl)
  • live vaccines: BCG, yellow fever vaccine, etc..  
  • Ganciclovir, an antiviral drug
  • Azathioprine, an immune system inhibitor 
  • Barbiturates, depressant drugs that causes relaxation and sleepiness
  • Cimetidine , a drug used to inhibit the production of acid in the stomach
  • Colchicines , a medication used to treat pain of gouty arthritis
  • Cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan, Cytoxan, Neosar, Procytox, Revimmune), a drug used to treat several types of cancers
  • All other chemotherapy medications.  

Side effects: Hydrea not only cancer cells but also healthy cells, which often leads to the following side effects:    

  • hair loss
  • constipation
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • drowsiness
  • mouth sores
  • skin rash
  • insomnia (difficulty sleepiness)
  • decreased appetite
  • mild nausea and vomiting
  • tiredness or weakness
  • Unusual purple, blue, or black discoloration on the nails 

See a medical specialist as soon as you can if you experience any of these symptoms:  

  • anxiety
  • severe depression symptoms
  • nose bleeding
  • fast or irregular heart beat
  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath
  • dizziness
  • intense headache
  • moderate to severe nausea or vomiting
  • wheezing
  • feeling of constriction of the throat
  • Swelling of feet or lower legs