Risk - Benefit of antiemetics in prevention and treatment of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting

Jørn Herrstedt*

*Corresponding author af dette arbejde

    Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftReviewForskningpeer review


    The development of effective antiemetic prophylaxis is one of the most significant steps forward in the area of supportive care. Fifteen years ago, patients receiving chemotherapy had to face the fact that nausea and vomiting were inevitable adverse effects, which could only be partially prevented by treatment with antiemetics such as dopamine (DA) D2 receptor antagonists and corticosteroids. The first group of drugs specifically developed as antiemetics was the serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine [5-HT]3) receptor antagonists. These drugs have dramatically improved prophylaxis of chemotherapy-induced emesis, particularly when used in combination with a corticosteroid. This combination has resulted in a significant decrease in the number of patients vomiting, whereas the improvement in the prophylaxis of nausea has been less successful. Another group of antiemetics, the neurokinin (NK)1 receptor antagonists, has recently been developed, and the first drug in this class, aprepitant has been approved by the FDA and the EU authorities. Studies have showed that patients benefit from the use of this drug in combination with standard antiemetic therapy (5-HT3 receptor antagonist plus a corticosteroid), both in the acute and delayed phase of nausea and vomiting induced by cisplatin-based chemotherapy. This development has not only led to improved efficacy but also to a decreased risk associated with the use of antiemetics. One of the problems with traditional antiemetics, for example, the DA D2 receptor antagonists, is the risk of unpleasant adverse effects including restlessness and dystonic reactions. To avoid these adverse effects, combination with benzodiazepines or antihistamines was necessary, often resulting in sedation. Modern research also includes pharmacogenomic investigations. This has led to speculation about the importance of drug-drug interactions involving antiemetics through competition for metabolism by the cytochrome P450 isoenzymes. The worst possible interaction would be a decrease in the effect of different cytotoxins but there is no evidence that such interactions are of importance in daily clinical practice. Guidelines are useful tools in the optimisation of antiemetic prophylaxis but, unfortunately, implementation of the evidence-based recommendations is far from successful. A prerequisite for further optimisation of antiemetic prophylaxis is updating of the guidelines, including recommendations for the use of NK1 receptor antagonists (aprepitant), followed by implementation of these recommendations in the clinic. Future research must include 'the difficult trials' focusing on the remaining groups of patients with severe chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, including patients with refractory and breakthrough emesis. 2004

    Sider (fra-til)231-248
    Antal sider18
    TidsskriftExpert Opinion on Drug Safety
    Udgave nummer3
    StatusUdgivet - maj 2004


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