Don’t docetaxel and drive!

Every so often one learns something quite unexpected that one probably should have been aware of previously. This is salutary … but it is also a good thing!

The chemotherapeutic agent docetaxel (Taxotere), widely used as the foundation for chemotherapy in the treatment of advanced forms of prostate cancer, is actually dissolved in an alcohol solution in order to allow it to be appropriately infused at time of chemotherapy.

Now the percentage of men on docetaxel chemotherapy who actually drive themselves to and from the clinic to get their docetaxel infusions is probably small. However, it does appear that there is a sufficient amount of alcohol in a standard docetaxel infusion to cause the possibility of alcohol impairment … and trying to explain to a police officer that you haven’t been drinking if your blood alcohol is over the limit sounds like a lost cause!

So, if you are a chemotherapy patient getting docetaxel infusions or a support group leader or educator responsible for helping patients to understand the risks and benefits of docetaxel infusions, you will probably want to read the brief safety announcement issued by the US Food & Drug Administration last Friday. A complete and more detailed drug safety communication is also available.

Most particularly, those patients with a history of alcohol problems who need docetaxel chemotherapy should be making sure that their doctors are aware of their history of difficulties with alcohol.

2 Responses

  1. Since docetaxel is now generic, there are several different manufacturers.

    After I forwarded the notice to my buddies on docetaxel, one of them started to research and evidently the alcohol content varies from manufacturer to manufacturer.

  2. That doesn’t surprise me at all. However, the degree of variation can’t be very significant or the products would meet standards for approval of the generic.

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