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Generic Name: Ixabepilone

Ixempra is the trade name for the generic chemotherapy drug Ixabepilone. In some cases, health care professionals may use the trade name Ixempra when referring to the generic drug name Ixabepilone.

Drug Type:

Ixempra is an anti-cancer ("antineoplastic" or "cytotoxic") chemotherapy drug. Ixempra is classified as an "antimicrotubule agent" or an "epothilone B analog". For more detail, see How Ixempra Works below.


What IxempraIs Used For:

Ixempra is used in the treatment of metastatic or locally-advanced breast cancer.

Note: If a drug has been approved for one use, physicians may elect to use this same drug for other problems if they believe it may be helpful.

How Ixempra Is Given:

  • Ixempra is given as an infusion into the vein (intravenous, IV).
  • The amount of Ixempra that you will receive depends on many factors, including your height and weight, your general health or other health problems, and the type of cancer or condition you have. Your doctor will determine your exact Ixempra dosage and schedule.

Ixempra Side Effects:

Important things to remember about the side effects of Ixempra:

  • Most people will not experience all of the Ixempra side effects listed.
  • Ixempra side effects are often predictable in terms of their onset, duration, and severity.
  • Ixempra side effects will improve after therapy is complete.
  • Ixempra side effects may be quite manageable. There are many options to minimize or prevent the side effects of Ixempra.

The following side effects are common (occurring in greater than 30%) for patients taking Ixempra:

  • Peripheral neuropathy: Although uncommon a serious side effect of decreased sensation and paresthesia (numbness and tingling of the hands and feet) may be noted. Sensory loss, numbness and tingling, and difficulty in walking may last for at least as long as therapy is continued. These side effects may become progressively more severe with continued treatment, and your doctor may decide to decrease your dose.
  • Weakness
  • Muscle and joint pains
  • Hair loss
  • Nausea & Vomiting
  • Low white blood cell count

These are less common side effects (occurring in about 10-29%) of patients receiving Ixempra:

  • Mouth sores
  • Diarrhea
  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Poor appetite
  • Constipation
  • Abdominal pain
  • Headache

This list includes common and less common side effects for those taking Ixempra. Ixempra side effects that are very rare -- occurring in less than about 10 percent of patients -- are not listed here. Always inform your health care provider if you experience any unusual symptoms.

When To Contact Your Doctor or Health Care Provider:

Ixempra is given by intravenous infusion and you will be monitored during each infusion. Report to the nurse immediately:

  • Unusual chest tightness, difficulty breathing or swallowing, itching or skin rash, back pain or headache
  • Redness, swelling or pain at the infusion site

Contact your doctor or health care provider immediately, day or night, if you should experience any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever of 100.5º F (38º C) or higher, chills (possible signs of infection)

The following symptoms require medical attention, but are not an emergency. Contact your doctor or health care provider within 24 hours of noticing any of the following:

  • Nausea (interferes with ability to eat and unrelieved with prescribed medication)
  • Vomiting (vomiting more than 4-5 times in a 24 hour period)
  • Diarrhea (4-6 episodes in a 24-hour period)
  • Extreme fatigue (unable to carry on self-care activities)
  • Mouth sores (painful redness, swelling or ulcers)
  • Difficulty breathing or unusual cough
  • Swelling of feet and/or legs, sudden weight gain
  • Unable to eat or drink for 24 hours or have signs of dehydration such as: tiredness, thirst, dry mouth, dark and decrease amount of urine, or dizziness.

Always inform your doctor or health care provider if you experience any unusual symptoms.

Ixempra Precautions:

  • Before starting Ixempra treatment, make sure you tell your doctor about any other medications you are taking (including prescription, over-the-counter, vitamins, herbal remedies, etc.). While taking Ixempra do not take aspirin or products containing aspirin unless your doctor specifically permits this.
  • Do not drink grapefruit juice while recieving Ixempra.  Drinking grapefruit juice may cause you to have too much Ixempra in your blood and lead to side effects.
  • While taking Ixempra, do not receive any kind of immunization or vaccination without your doctor’s approval.
  • For both men and women: Use contraceptives and do not conceive a child (get pregnant) while taking Ixempra. Barrier methods of contraception such as condoms are recommended. Discuss with your doctor or nurse what type of birth control would be safe for you to use.
  • Inform your health care professional if you are pregnant or may be pregnant prior to starting this treatment.  Pregnancy category D (ixabepilone may be hazardous to the fetus.  Women who are pregnant or become pregnant must be advised of the potential hazard to the fetus).
  • Do not breast feed while taking Ixempra.

Self-Care Tips While Taking Ixempra:

  • While taking Ixempra, try to drink at least two to three quarts of fluid every 24 hours, (particularly the 24 hours before and 48 hours following the infusion) unless you are instructed otherwise.
  • You may be at risk of infection so try to avoid crowds or people with colds, and report fever or any other signs of infection immediately to your health care provider.
  • Wash your hands often.
  • To help treat/prevent mouth sores while taking Ixempra, use a soft toothbrush, and rinse three times a day with 1 teaspoon of baking soda mixed with 8 ounces of water.
  • To reduce nausea, take anti-nausea medications as prescribed by your doctor, and eat small, frequent meals while taking Ixempra.
  • Avoid sun exposure. Wear SPF 15 (or higher) sunblock and protective clothing.
  • You may experience drowsiness or dizziness; avoid driving or engaging in tasks that require alertness until your response to the drug is known.
  • In general, drinking alcoholic beverages should be kept to a minimum or avoided completely while you are taking Ixempra. You should discuss this with your doctor.
  • Get plenty of rest.
  • Maintain good nutrition while being treated with Ixempra.
  • If you experience symptoms or side effects while being treated with Ixempra, be sure to discuss them with your health care team. They can prescribe medications and/or offer other suggestions that are effective in managing such problems.

Monitoring and Testing While Taking Ixempra:

You will be checked regularly by your doctor while you are taking Ixempra to monitor side effects and check your response to therapy. Periodic blood work will be obtained to monitor your complete blood count (CBC) as well as the function of other organs (such as your kidneys and liver).

How Ixempra Works

Cancerous tumors are characterized by cell division, which is no longer controlled as it is in normal tissue. "Normal" cells stop dividing when they come into contact with like cells, a mechanism known as contact inhibition.  Cancerous cells lose this ability.  Cancer cells no longer have the normal checks and balances in place that control and limit cell division.  The process of cell division, whether normal or cancerous cells, is through the cell cycle.  The cell cycle goes from the resting phase, through active growing phases, and then to mitosis (division).

The ability of chemotherapy to kill cancer cells depends on its ability to halt cell division.  Usually, the drugs work by damaging the RNA or DNA that tells the cell how to copy itself in division.  If the cells are unable to divide, they die.  The faster the cells are dividing, the more likely it is that chemotherapy will kill the cells, causing the tumor to shrink.  They also induce cell suicide (self-death or apoptosis).

Chemotherapy drugs that affect cells only when they are dividing are called cell-cycle specific.  Chemotherapy drugs that affect cells when they are at rest are called cell-cycle non-specific.  The scheduling of chemotherapy is set based on the type of cells, rate at which they divide, and the time at which a given drug is likely to be effective.  This is why chemotherapy is typically given in cycles.

Chemotherapy is most effective at killing cells that are rapidly dividing.  Unfortunately, chemotherapy does not know the difference between the cancerous cells and the normal cells. The "normal" cells will grow back and be healthy but in the meantime, side effects occur.  The "normal" cells most commonly affected by chemotherapy are the blood cells, the cells in the mouth, stomach and bowel, and the hair follicles; resulting in low blood counts, mouth sores, nausea, diarrhea, and/or hair loss.  Different drugs may affect different parts of the body.

Chemotherapy (anti-neoplastic drugs) is divided into five classes based on how they work to kill cancer.  Although these drugs are divided into groups, there is some overlap among some of the specific drugs.

Ixempra is an antimicrotubule agent.  It is cell cycle specific.  It acts on the microtubule structure and function of the cell by attaching to a section of the microtubule. This stabilizes the microtubular function, and stops the cell from continuing in its cycle thus causing cell death.

Note: We strongly encourage you to talk with your health care professional about your specific medical condition and treatments. The information contained in this website is meant to be helpful and educational, but is not a substitute for medical advice.

Last Updated on Thursday, 10 December 2009 05:25