Busulfan : Uses, Side Effects, Interactions & More

IMPORTANT WARNING:

Busulfan can cause a severe decrease in the number of blood cells in the bone marrow. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the medicines you are taking. If you take busulfan with other medications that can cause a low blood count, the side effects of the medications can be more serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately: fever, sore throat, ongoing cough and congestion, or other signs of infection; unusual bleeding or bruising.

Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order laboratory tests before, during and after your treatment to check your body’s response to busulfan to see if your blood cells are affected by this medicine. Your doctor may need to change your dose or tell you to stop taking busulfan for a period of time to allow your blood count to return to normal if it has dropped too low. Follow your doctor’s instructions carefully and ask your doctor if you don’t know how much busulfan to take.

Busulfan can increase your risk of developing other cancers. Talk to your doctor about the risks of taking busulfan.

Why is this medication prescribed?

Busulfan is used to treat a certain type of chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML; a type of cancer of the white blood cells). Busulfan belongs to a class of medications called alkylating agents. It works by slowing or stopping the growth of cancer cells in your body.

How should this medicine be used?

Busulfan comes as a tablet to take by mouth once a day. The length of treatment depends on the types of medications you are taking, how well your body responds to them, and the type of cancer you have. Take busulfan at around the same times every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any parts you do not understand. Take busulfan exactly as directed. Do not take more or less, or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.

Your doctor may adjust your dose of busulfan based on your response to treatment and any side effects you experience. Talk to your doctor about how you feel during your treatment. Do not stop taking busulfan without consulting your doctor.

What special precautions should I follow?

Before taking busulfan,

  • Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to busulfan, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in busulfan tablets. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
  • Tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: acetaminophen (Tylenol); certain chemotherapy drugs such as bendamustine (Treanda), carmustine (BiCNU, Gliadel Wafer), cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan), ifosfamide (Ifex), lomustine (CeeNU), melphalan (Alkeran), procarbazine (Mutalane), temoanzolomide (temoanzolomide); clozapine (Clozaril, FazaClo); cyclosporine (Sandimmune, Gengraf, Neoral); itraconazole (Sporanox); medications for mental illness and nausea; phenytoin (Dilantin); or meperidine (Demerol). Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you closely for side effects. Many other medications can also interact with busulfan, so be sure to tell your doctor about all the medications you are taking, even those that do not appear on this list.
  • Tell your doctor if you have previously received radiation therapy or treatment with other chemotherapy drugs, or if you have or have ever had seizures or a head injury. Also tell your doctor if you have taken busulfan before, but your cancer did not respond to the medicine.
  • You should know that busulfan may interfere with the normal menstrual cycle (period) in women and may stop sperm production in men. However, you should not assume that you cannot get pregnant or that you cannot get someone else pregnant. Pregnant or lactating women should inform their doctors before starting this medicine. You should not plan to have children while you are receiving chemotherapy or for a time after treatments. (Talk to your doctor for more details). Use a reliable method of birth control to prevent pregnancy. If you become pregnant while taking busulfan, call your doctor immediately. Busulfan can harm the fetus.

What side effects can this medication cause?

Busulfan may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:

  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • loss of appetite or weight
  • constipation
  • sores in the mouth and throat
  • dry mouth
  • headache
  • difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • feeling unusually anxious or worried
  • dizziness
  • swelling of the face, arms, hands, feet, ankles or lower legs
  • chest pain
  • joint, muscle or back pain
  • skin rash
  • itching and dry skin
  • darkened skin
  • hair loss

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms or those listed in the IMPORTANT WARNING section, call your doctor immediately:

  • black, tarry stools
  • red urine
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • difficulty breathing
  • changes in vision
  • vomiting
  • stomach pain
  • seizures

Busulfan can cause ovarian failure and can prevent girls from reaching puberty. Talk to your doctor about the risk of infertility caused by busulfan. Talk to your doctor about the risks of receiving this medicine.

Busulfan can cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medicine.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor can submit a report online to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).

What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?

Keep this medicine in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of the reach of children. Store at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture (not in the bathroom).

Unnecessary medications must be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and others cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medicine down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medications is through a drug take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage / recycling department to find out about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA Safe Drug Disposal website (http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.

It is important to keep all medicines out of the sight and reach of children, as many containers (such as those containing weekly pills and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and small children can easily open them. To protect young children from poisoning, always close the safety caps and immediately place the medicine in a safe place, one that is upright and out of their sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org

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In case of emergency/overdose

In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. If the victim collapsed, had a seizure, is having trouble breathing, or is unable to wake up, immediately call 911 for emergency services.

Symptoms of overdose may include the following:

  • black, tarry stools
  • red urine
  • unusual bruising or bleeding
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • sore throat, cough, fever, or other signs of infection
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • sores in the mouth and throat

What other information should I know?

Do not let anyone else take your medicine. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.

It is important that you keep a written list of all prescription and over-the-counter (over-the-counter) medications you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should take this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you go into hospital. It is also important information to take with you in case of emergencies.

Brand Names

  • Myleran®

Other Names

  • Busulphan

Disclaimer: DrLinex has made every effort to ensure that all information is factually accurate, comprehensive and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a licensed health care professional’s choice of knowledge and expertise. You should always consult your doctor or other health care professional before taking any medication. The information given here is subject to change and it has not been used to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions or adverse effects. The lack of warning or other information for any drug does not indicate that the combination of medicine or medication is safe, effective or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.

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