Contemporary, prostate cancer has become one of the diseases that threaten the physical and mental health of men. Early prevention and treatment are necessary to treat this disease. Degarelix powder is an effective drug for the treatment of prostate cancer, and we should take the initiative to understand some important information about it so that we can use it properly and safely.
Degarelix (214766-78-6) is a hormone therapy drug that minimizes the amount of hormones in the body, including testosterone. It is classified under a class of medications known as gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) receptor antagonists. This synthetic peptide derivative drug is known by its brand name “Firmagon”. The following are its specifications:
- Drug Class: GnRH Analogue; GnRH antagonist; Antigonadotropin
- Chemical Formula: C82H103ClN18O16
- Molar Mass: 1630.75 g/mol g·mol−1
- Bioavailability: 30-40%
- Routes of Administration: Subcutaneous injection
- Excretion: Feces (70-80%), Urine (20-30%)
- Elimination Half-Life: 23-61 days
Degarelix powder is used to treat advanced prostate cancer. The FDA approved the medication for the treatment of advanced prostate cancer in U.S. patients on 24th December, 2008. On 17th February, 2009, the European Commission followed suit and approved Degarelix drug for use in adult male patients with advanced prostate cancer.
Note that Degarelix injection should be administered by a doctor or nurse in a medical facility. Degarelix may also be used for other purposes. In Sweden, for instance, the drug is studied for use as a chemical castration agent to be injected on sex offenders. Degarelix breast cancer treatment is also being considered as an alternative treatment for breast cancer in males.
Your doctor may recommend this medication for other conditions. If you are not sure why you are taking this medication, it is important that you talk to your doctor. As with other medications, you should not give Degarelix to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. This is because the drug can be harmful if taken without the doctor’s say-so.
(1) You should know something Extra before taking Degarelix
The following are some important things to know before taking this medication:
- Degarelix may cause male infertility. If you are looking forward to become a father in the future, it’s important that you talk to your doctor. You may want to consider storing sperm before starting treatment.
- This drug is not approved for use by women. Pregnant women should not use this medication. This is because the drug may harm the fetus. Breastfeeding women, or those who intend to have children, should also avoid using this medication. In fact, women in general should not use Degarelix.
- It’s not safe to take Degarelix if you have an underlying health condition. Be sure to inform your doctor if you have long QT syndrome, which is a rare heart problem that may cause fainting, irregular heartbeat, or sudden death. You should also inform your doctor if you have a heart, kidney, or liver disease. Also tell your doctor if you have either high or low levels of sodium, magnesium, potassium, or calcium in your blood.
- It’s also important to tell your pharmacist or doctor if you are allergic to certain medications or ingredients. This will enable them to know if you are allergic to Degarelix injection.
(2) Degarelix Injection Dosage
Degarelix comes in two forms:
- 120 mg vial: Each single-use vial contains 120 mg of Degarelix powder as Degarelix acetate.
- 80 mg vial: Each single-use vial contains 80 mg of Degarelix powder as Degarelix acetate.
Degarelix comes in powder form, which should be mixed with liquid and injected under the skin in the stomach area, somewhere between the ribs and the waistline. The first time you receive this medication, you will be given two Degarelix injections. After the initial Degarelix injection dosage, you will receive only one injection during your monthly follow-up visits.
The initial dose is usually Degarelix 240 mg administered as 2 subcutaneous injections of Degarelix 120 mg each at a concentration of 40 mg/mL. After the initial dose, you will receive only one subcutaneous injection of 80 mg at a concentration of 20 mg/mL every 28 days.
When going to receive Degarelix injection, you should avoid wearing tight clothing, waistband or belt around your stomach where the injection will be administered. After you receive a Degarelix injection, ensure that your waistband or belt does not put pressure on the injection area. You should also avoid rubbing or scratching the area where the drug is injected.
Treating the symptoms of prostate cancer that is dependent of testosterone for growth requires a constant level of hormone suppression. To achieve this, it’s imperative that Degarelix acetate should be administered exactly as recommended by the doctor.
To ensure that Degarelix drug is helping your condition, you may need to undergo blood tests on a regular basis. Be sure to keep all your follow-up appointments with your doctor.
You should also note that Degarelix injection can affect the results of certain medical tests. Once you are under this medication, be sure to tell your doctor that you have received this drug when taking subsequent medical tests.
The male hormone testosterone is said to fuel the growth of cancer cells in the prostate. Drugs that prevent the testes from producing testosterone are known to slow or stop the growth of cancer cells in the prostate. There are also drugs that block the action of testosterone by cutting off the supply of the male hormone to the cancer cells.
Degarelix powder (214766-78-6)works by reducing the amount of testosterone produced naturally by the body. It does so by blocking GnRH receptors in the pituitary gland in the brain. This prevents the production of luiteinising hormone, thus prevents the testes from producing testosterone.
Just like other cancer drugs, Degarelix can interact with other medications and herbal products. The following are some of the types of drugs that may cause an interaction when used together with Degarelix:
- Anti-emetic medications
- Certain protein kinase inhibitors
- Tricyclic antidepressants
- Macrolide antibiotics
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors
- Chloral hydrate
- Chloroquine and
- Disopyramide, among others.
When used together with Degarelix, certain medications can increase the risk of a type of abnormal heart rhythm known as QT prolongation. You are at an increased risk for this serious condition and its complications if you:
- Are a senior (65 years and older)
- Have a family history of abnormal heart rhythms or heart disease
- Have a history of sudden cardiac death
- Have a slow pulse or heart rate
- Have congenital prolongation of the QT interval
- Are diabetic
- Have had a stroke
- Have low calcium, magnesium, or potassium levels
If you have any of the above conditions, or are taking certain medications to manage any health condition, it is important that you tell your doctor before using Degarelix drug. Be sure to inform your pharmacist or doctor about the prescription, over-the-counter medications, nutritional supplements, herbal products and vitamins you are taking or plan to take. This will help to prevent you from medications that can cause Degarelix interactions.
It’s important to discuss with your doctor about your medical conditions and medications you may be taking for a number of reasons. Firstly, it will enable the doctor to discuss with you how using this medication with other medications may affect your medical condition. Your doctor will also inform you how your medical condition may affect the dosing, as well as the effectiveness of Degarelix. Your doctor will also inform you whether any special monitoring will be needed.
There is no clinical experience with the risks associated with missing or overdosing on Degarelix. Nevertheless, you should not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor. In case you miss an appointment for your Degarelix injection, call your doctor for instructions.
Since Degarelix acetate should be administered by a doctor, it is very rare that an overdose can occur. In the event of a Degarelix overdose, however, it is important that you call your poison control center or seek medical care immediately. Be ready to show or tell what you took, how much of it you took, and when you took it.
As with many other medications, Degarelix can cause various side effects. Degarelix side effects can be mild or severe, and they can also be temporary or permanent. The following are the common Degarelix side effects, which many not be experienced by everyone who takes this medication:
- Back pain
- Decreased libido
- Erectile dysfunction
- Decreased size of testicles
- Increased need to urinate frequently
- Hot flashes
- Frequent urination
- Skin reaction at the injection site, such as pain, redness, hardness, swelling
- Weight gain
Although most of the above Degerelix side effects are not serious, they could lead to serious problems if they persist for a long time. It is important that you seek medical help in case you notice the following rare, but serious side effects:
- Abnormal swelling
- Bone fractures or pain
- Breast discomfort and swelling
- Flu-like symptoms, such as cough, fever, lethargy, and sore throat
- Spike in blood cholesterol
- Spike in blood pressure
Since Degarelix reduces testosterone production, it may cause low levels of red blood cells, a condition known as anemia. Symptoms of anemia include dizziness, pale skin, unusual tiredness and/or shortness of breath, it’s important that you contact your doctor immediately. Your doctor will perform blood tests from time to time to monitor the number of red blood cells in your blood.
Degarelix is also said to increase the risk of diabetes. If you are diabetic, it is important that you undergo regular tests to monitor your blood sugar levels.
Degarelix is also said to increase the risk of osteoporosis. It may cause the bone to become thinner and break more easily. If you already have osteoporosis, it is important that you inform your doctor so that it can be determined how your medical condition may affect Degarelix dosing.
Some patients may experience Degarelix side effects other than the ones listed above. Should you experience any symptom that makes you uncomfortable or worries you, it is best to see your doctor without delay.
Your doctor may advice you to stop taking Degarelix injections in case you experience symptoms of a heart attack. These symptoms may include sudden chest pain, pain radiating to your back, sensation of pressure or tightness of the chest, severe nausea, vomiting, sweating, and/or anxiety.
Your doctor may also advice you to stop using Degarelix in case you experience signs of a serious allergic reaction. These symptoms may include angioedema, which is characterized by hives, difficulty breathing, and swelling of the face, mouth, hands and/or feet.
There are various Degarelix warnings to keep in mind. One of them is that this medication can pass through body fluids (vomit, urine, sweat, feces). Therefore, you should avoid allowing your body fluids to come into contact with your hands or another person’s skin and other surfers for at least 48 hours after receiving a Degarelix injection.
Caregivers are advised to wear protective rubber gloves while cleaning up a patient’s body fluids and when handling contaminated laundry or diapers. Soiled clothing and linens should also be washed separately from other laundry.
While there are some Degarelix side effects to worry about, there are also some Degarelix benefits to look forward to when using this medicine. In clinical studies, it has been demonstrated that Degarelix injection offers quicker reduction in testosterone levels than other convectional hormonal therapy treatments. This medication does not usually cause the initial testosterone surge that potentially causes transient worsening of symptoms.
Another Degarelix benefit is that the drug is generally well tolerated, in exception A study revealed that injection-site reactions occurred in 40 percent of pooled Degarelix group verses < 1 percent of the leuprolide group. These reactions were mostly mild or moderate, and they occurred predominantly after the first injection.
Preliminary data from several clinical studies indicate that compared to LHRH agonists, Degarelix was linked to considerably higher overall survival within the 1st year of treatment. The fact that the chances of successfully treating prostate cancer are higher when using this treatment is one of the Degarelix benefits that make this medication a must-try.
Degarelix and alcohol
Taking alcohol in small amounts doesn’t seem to affect the usefulness or safety of degarelix. However, you should always avoid taking high amounts of alcohol when taking this drug.
If you or a loved one has prostate cancer, Degarelix chemotherapy is undoubtedly one the best treatment options that you can choose. The only conceivable reason why you might choose surgery over a hormonal therapy like Degarelix would be cost. Nevertheless, any cost differential would be overshadowed by the Degarelix benefits.
You are probably wondering about the Degarelix cost. The average annual cost of treatment with Degarelix is approximately $4,400. This is in line with the cost of other available hormone treatments for advanced prostate cancer. Degarelix injection price for 80 mg injection is ranges around $519 for a supply of one powder for injection. The cost will also depend on the pharmacy you visit.
You can also come across a “Degarelix buy online” advert. You’ll however need to be very cautious when buying the drug online. Make sure you do proper background checks and due diligence before you order the drug from an online seller. Make sure that the supplier or the online pharmacy is legit and that what they are selling is the legal and pure form of the drug.
Degarelix should be stored at room temperature. Be sure to protect this medication from light and moisture. As with other medications, keep Degarelix out of the reach of children.
Do not dispose of Degarelix powder in household garbage or in wastewater, e.g. in the toilet or down the sink. Ask your doctor or pharmacist how to dispose medications that have expired or no longer in use.
- Van Poppel H, Tombal B, et al (October 2008). Degarelix: a novel gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) receptor blocker–results from a one-year, multicentre, randomised, phase two dosage-finding study in the treatment of prostate cancer. Eur. Urol. 54: 805-13.
- US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, A cost-utility analysis of degarelix in the treatment of advanced hormone-dependent prostate cancer in the United Kingdom, Lee D1, Porter J, Brereton N, Nielsen SK, 2014 Apr;17(4):233-47.
- Gittelman M, Pommerville PJ, Persson BE, et al (2008). A 1-year, open label, randomized phase II dose finding study of degarelix for the treatment of prostate cancer in North America. J. Urol. 180: 1986-92.