Idarubicin - oral

Patient Medicine Information
Why do I need this medicine?
Idarubicin is used on its own or together with other medicines to treat a certain cancer of the bone marrow.

This medicine is also used to treat advanced cancer of the breast.

Idarubicin reduces the size of the tumour by stopping cancer cells from growing.
How do I take this medicine?
Take Idarubicin exactly as directed by your doctor or according to the instructions on the label. Do not take more or less than instructed by your doctor.

You may take this medicine with a light meal. Try to take it at the same time each day.

Swallow the capsules whole with a glass of water. Do not suck, bite, or chew the capsule.

The dose of Idarubicin will be decided by your doctor. Your doctor will advise you on the course of your treatment depending on your condition and response to the medication.
What should I do if I have forgotten to take this medicine?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and return to your normal dosing schedule.

DO NOT double a dose under any circumstances.

If you often forget to take your medicine, let your doctor and pharmacist know.
When should I not use this medicine?
Alert your doctor if you have the following conditions:
  • severe heart problems e.g. severe disease of the heart muscle, recent heart attack, abnormal heart rhythm
  • persistent bone marrow depression (a condition in which the blood cells are low)
  • uncontrolled infection
  • previous treatment with the maximum doses of Idarubicin or similar medicines
  • severe kidney disease
  • severe liver disease
as Idarubicin may not be suitable for you.

Do not take this medicine if you are pregnant. If you become pregnant while on Idarubicin therapy, alert your doctor immediately. This medicine may cause harm to your unborn child.

It is important that you do not get pregnant while taking this medicine. You must use proven birth control methods during Idarubicin therapy and for at least 6.5 months after stopping the treatment. Men with female partners of childbearing potential are also advised to use effective contraception during treatment and for at least 3.5 months after the last dose of Idarubicin. You may wish to discuss reliable methods of birth control with your doctor.

Do not breastfeed while you are being treated with this medicine.

Alert your doctor if you have been recently vaccinated. You must avoid any vaccinations without consulting with your doctor.
What should I take note of while taking this medicine?
Inform your doctor if you have the following conditions:
  • heart disease
  • anaemia (low red blood cell count in the body)
  • history of bone marrow depression caused by previous therapy
  • disorder of the stomach or bowel
  • mild to moderate liver disease
  • mild to moderate kidney disease
  • had previous radiation therapy
Why is it important to keep my appointments with the doctor?

Keep your appointments with your doctor. Your doctor needs to monitor your condition and check your response to the medication regularly.
  • Pregnancy test must be done before treatment to know if this medicine is suited for you to take.
  • Routine tests (e.g. blood count, liver, kidney and heart functions, electrolyte and uric acid levels) may be done while you are being treated with Idarubicin. Your doctor will advise you about how often you need to have these tests.
  • Regular monitoring for signs of infection and severe bowel reactions may also be needed.
What side effects could I experience?
Idarubicin may cause any of the following side effects: headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pain, inflammation or ulceration of mouth and lips, loss of appetite, chills, hair loss, skin rash and itching.

Your urine may look slightly red in colour. This is normal while you are being treated with this medicine.

Some side effects may need immediate medical help. Alert your doctor quickly if you experience any of the following:
  • chest pain, irregular or abnormal heartbeat
  • shortness of breath during an activity, at rest, or when lying down on the bed; swelling of the legs, ankles and feet
  • dizziness, lightheadedness and fainting
  • pass out bloody stools or black as tar, and vomiting blood or ground coffee-like material
This medicine will cause the level of your red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets to drop.

Red blood cells carry oxygen around your body. A fall in the level of red blood cells may make you feel tired and worn out.

White blood cells help your body to fight infections. A fall in the level of your white blood cells may put you at higher risk for infections, such as coughs, colds and flu, which may lead to more serious infections. Avoid crowded places and people who are sick. Alert your doctor if you have a fever, or a cough or flu that does not go away.

Platelets help your blood to clot when there is a cut in the skin. A fall in the level of your platelets may put you at risk of bleeding more than usual. Do not take part in activities where you may fall or get injured, such as contact sports. Alert your doctor if you get any unusual bruising (large bruises or several bruises, especially if the bruises appeared on their own) or bleeding that takes a long time to stop (for example, too much bleeding when you floss or brush your teeth).

Inform your doctor if any of these side effects do not go away or are severe, or if you experience other side effects.
Can I take this with other medicines?
Avoid vaccinations during treatment with Idarubicin. Alert your doctor if you have been recently vaccinated or if you are planning to get vaccinated.

Inform your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking or using any of these medicines:
  • other medicines for cancer e.g. cyclophosphamide, trastuzumab, paclitaxel
  • medicines for high blood pressure e.g. amlodipine, nifedipine
This list does not include all medicines that may interact with Idarubicin.

Always notify your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking any other medicines, including herbal tonics such as traditional Chinese medicines, supplements and medicines that you buy without a prescription.
What special dietary instructions should I follow?
Avoid alcohol.
How should I store this medicine?
Store in a cool, dry place away from the reach of children.

Medicines must not be used past the expiry date.

As this is a cancer medicine, always return any unused or expired capsules to the clinic, hospital or pharmacy for disposal. Do not throw it away in the household waste.
This information is independently developed by MIMS based on idarubicin - oral and is provided for your reference only. It is not a replacement for and should only be used in conjunction with full consultation with a licensed healthcare professional, the information provided by your pharmacist and/or the manufacturer of the medication. It may not contain all the available information you require and cannot substitute professional medical care, nor does it take into account all individual circumstances. Although great effort has been made to ensure content accuracy, we shall not be held responsible or liable for any claims or damages arising from the use or misuse of the information contained herein, its contents or omissions, or otherwise. Copyright © 2024 MIMS. All rights reserved. Powered by
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