How does this medication work? What will it do for me?
Degarelix belongs to the class of medications called GnRH antagonists. It is used to treat advanced prostate cancer that is dependent on hormones for growth. This medication works by preventing testosterone from being produced by the body, and in doing this, remove the some of the stimulation for cancer growth.
This medication may be available under multiple brand names and/or in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the forms or approved for all of the conditions discussed here. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here.
Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are taking this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.
Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to take this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.
What form(s) does this medication come in?
80 mg vial
Each single-use vial contains 80 mg of degarelix powder as degarelix acetate. Nonmedicinal ingredients: mannitol, pre-filled syringe containing sterile water for injection.
120 mg vial
Each single-use vial contains 120 mg of degarelix powder as degarelix acetate. Nonmedicinal ingredients: mannitol, pre-filled syringe containing sterile water for injection.
How should I use this medication?
The usual starting dose of degarelix is 240 mg injected subcutaneously (under the skin) as 2 injections of 120 mg each. After this initial dose, the recommended dose is 80 mg injected subcutaneously every month.
Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are taking the medication without consulting your doctor.
Treating the symptoms of cancer that is dependent on hormones for growth requires a constant level of testosterone suppression. To achieve this, it is important this medication be given exactly as recommended by your doctor. If you miss an appointment to receive degarelix, contact your doctor as soon as possible to reschedule your appointment.
Store this medication at room temperature, protect it from light and moisture, and keep it out of the reach of children.
Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.
Who should NOT take this medication?
Do not take this medication if you are allergic to degarelix or any ingredients of the medication.
This medication is not intended for use by women or children.
What side effects are possible with this medication?
Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.
The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.
The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.
Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.
- back pain
- decreased interest in sexual activity
- decreased sexual ability
- decreased size of testicles
- increased need to urinate
- hot flashes
- producing small amounts of urine frequently
- skin reaction at the injection site (e.g., pain, redness, hardness, swelling)
- trouble sleeping
- weight gain
Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not seek medical attention.
Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:
- abnormal swelling
- bone pain or fractures
- breast swelling and discomfort
- flu-like symptoms (sudden lack of energy, fever, cough, sore throat)
- increased blood cholesterol
- increased blood pressure
- signs of anemia (low red blood cells; e.g., dizziness, pale skin, unusual tiredness or weakness, shortness of breath)
- signs of heart problems (e.g., fast, irregular heartbeat or pulse, chest pain, difficulty breathing)
Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:
- signs of heart attack (e.g., sudden chest pain or pain radiating to back, down arm, jaw; sensation of tightness or pressure of the chest; nausea; vomiting; sweating; anxiety)
- symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including angioedema (e.g., hives; swelling of the face, mouth, hands, or feet; and difficulty breathing)
Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.
Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?
Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.
Abnormal heart rhythms: This medication can cause abnormal heart rhythms. Certain medications can increase the risk of a type of abnormal heart rhythm called QT prolongation, and should not be used in combination with degarelix. You are more at risk for this type of abnormal heart rhythm and its complications if you:
- are older than 65 years of age
- have a family history of sudden cardiac death
- have a history of heart disease or abnormal heart rhythms
- have a slow heart rate
- have congenital prolongation of the QT interval
- have diabetes
- have had a stroke
- have low potassium, magnesium, or calcium levels
- have nutritional deficiencies
If you have heart disease and abnormal heart rhythms, or are taking certain medications, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Anemia: Reducing testosterone production can cause low levels of red blood cells. If you experience symptoms of reduced red blood cell count (anemia) such as shortness of breath, feeling unusually tired or pale skin, contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Your doctor will do blood tests regularly to monitor the number of specific types of blood cells, including red blood cells, in your blood.
Diabetes: Degarelix may cause an increase in blood sugar levels and glucose tolerance may change. People with diabetes may find it necessary to monitor their blood sugar more frequently while using this medication.
If you have diabetes or are at risk for developing diabetes, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Drowsiness/reduced alertness: This medication may cause drowsiness or dizziness, affecting your ability to drive or operate machinery. Avoid these and other hazardous tasks until you have determined how this medication affects you.
Heart disease: This medication may increase the risk of developing high blood pressure, heart attack or other heart disease. If you have heart disease or have been told you are at risk of developing heart disease, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Liver function: Liver disease or reduced liver function may cause a decrease in the effectiveness of degarelix. If you have liver problems, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed. Your doctor may want to test your liver function regularly with blood tests while you are taking this medication.
Osteoporosis: Degarelix may cause bone to become thinner and break more easily. If you have osteoporosis or are at risk for developing osteoporosis, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.
Pregnancy: This medication is not intended for use by women.
Breast-feeding: This medication is not intended for use by women.
Children: This medication is not intended for use for children. The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children.
What other drugs could interact with this medication?
There may be an interaction between degarelix and any of the following:
- anti-emetic medications (serotonin antagonists; e.g., granisetron, ondansetron)
- anti-psychotics (e.g., chlorpromazine, clozapine, haloperidol, olanzepine, quetiapine, risperidone)
- "azole" antifungals (e.g., itraconazole, ketoconazole, voriconazole)
- certain protein kinase inhibitors (e.g., dasatinib, nilotinib, pazopanib)
- chloral hydrate
- macrolide antibiotics (e.g., azithromycin, clarithromycin, erythromycin)
- quinolone antibiotics (e.g., ciprofloxacin, norfloxacin, ofloxacin)
- selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs; e.g., citalopram, duloxetine, fluoxetine, paroxetine, sertraline)
- tricyclic antidepressants (e.g., amitriptyline, clomipramine, desipramine, trimipramine)
If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:
- stop taking one of the medications,
- change one of the medications to another,
- change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
- leave everything as is.
An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.
Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.
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