Brand names of hydroxyurea

  • Droxia
  • Gen-Hydroxyurea
  • Hydrea

Hydroxyurea is an antineoplastic drug that was synthesized for the first time in 1869. This medication is usually used to treat myeloproliferative disorders (group of ailments of the bone marrow wherein excess cells are produced), especially polycythemia vera and essential thrombocythemia (exceptional increase in the number of blood platelets). In addition, hydroxyurea is also given to patients suffering from sickle-cell disease with a view to lessen the frequency of painful attacks. Hydroxyurea is known to possess antiretroviral (slowing down the process by which a retrovirus multiplies) attributes in diseases like AIDS.

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Things you need to tell your physician before taking hydroxyurea

As in the instance of any other drug, you ought to take a number of precautions prior to starting your treatment with hydroxyurea. Before you start taking hydroxyurea, you should tell your doctor if you have any allergic reaction to this medication, any of the ingredients of hydroxyurea capsule or any other medication. In case you are not aware about the ingredients of hydroxyurea, ask your pharmacist to provide you with a list of the same. Also tell your doctor about all the prescription and non-prescription drugs, herbal products, vitamins and nutritional supplements being taken by you. Especially, tell your doctor if your are taking any medication to treat acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) - particularly if you are taking stavudine (Zerit), didanosine (Videx), sulfinpyrazone (Anturane) or probenecid. In case you are taking any of these medications, it may be necessary for your doctor to alter the doses of your medicines or examine you carefully for any potential side effects.

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Before starting treatment with hydroxyurea, tell your doctor regarding your entire medical conditions, especially if you have human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Also tell your doctor if you are undergoing radiation therapy and/ or cancer chemotherapy or have ever been treated with radiation therapy and/ or chemotherapy. In addition, discuss with your doctor if you have or have ever had any kidney or liver ailment.

Prior to taking hydroxyurea, you should particularly tell your doctor if you are taking or have taken interferon at some point of time. In case you are taking or have taken interferon, it is very likely that you will develop acute skin disorder while you are being treated with hydroxyurea. If you are not sure if you are taking or have ever taken interferon, ask your doctor or pharmacist to help you out. It may be noted here that interferons are basically a group of medicines akin to substance produced by the body naturally. These medications are generally used to treat ailments involving the immune system, for instance, specific types of cancer, multiple sclerosis, hepatitis as well as genital warts.

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Women should not breast-feed their babies while they are being treated with hydroxyurea. It is possible that your doctor will prescribe a folic acid supplement for you while you are being treated with hydroxyurea. In case you doctor prescribes this medication for you, it is important that you take it strictly as prescribed by your doctor.

People who take hydroxyurea ought to be aware that this medication may be potentially detrimental if it comes in contact with the skin. In fact, people who are not taking this medication, ought to avoid even touching hydroxyurea capsules or even the bottle that contains the capsules. People handling hydroxyurea capsules or even bottles containing the medication should always wear disposable gloves and also wash their hands both before and after touching the capsules or the containers. In case the powdery matter enclosed in the capsules trickle out, wipe it out with a moist disposable towel. Hence, while handling the medication or even the bottles containing the capsules, always keep a wet towel placed in a container - for instance, a plastic bag and discard it away in a trash can, which is beyond the reach of children and pets.

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Hydroxyurea is generally used in combination with radiation therapy of specific skin cancers of the neck and the head. In addition, this medication is also given to patients suffering from malignant melanoma and specific types of leukemia.

How to use hydroxyurea

Before you start using hydroxyurea, you should carefully read the patient information booklet that is usually available with your pharmacist. In fact, you should also read the instructions on the leaflet every time you refill your prescription. In case you are unable to follow some sections in the leaflet or have any queries, you should get them clarified by your doctor or pharmacist.

Hydroxyurea is an oral medication and may be taken with or without food. The dosage of this medication is generally dependent on the medical condition, body weight, laboratory test reports and the patient's response to the therapy. If your doctor finds that your blood counts are very poor, he may stop your treatment briefly. The normal dosage of this medication is taking one capsule everyday or as prescribed by your doctor. People who have problems in swallowing capsules may open the capsule and empty the enclosed powder into a glass of water and drink the mixture instantly. Always remember that you should never prepare the mixture in advance. After taking hydroxyurea wash your hands.

If you are taking hydroxyurea, it is important for you to keep all appointments with your doctor as well as medical and laboratory. It is advisable that you don't increase your dose of the medication or take it more frequently that what has been prescribed by your physician. In fact, taking the medication in excess or taking it too often will not help to improve your condition. On the contrary, it may result in grave side effects.

It is important for caregivers to wear disposable gloves while they are handling the medication or even the container in which it comes in. In case the powder enclosed inside the capsule trickles, wipe it with a wet paper towel and instantly discard the towel by putting it into a closed plastic bag. Ensure that you do not inhale the powder from the capsules. It is important to wash your hands every time you handle this medication. Pregnant women or those planning to become pregnant should never handle hydroxyurea since the drug can be soaked up through the skin and lungs. In addition, such women should also take care that they do not inhale the powder contained in the capsules. In case your condition persists or worsens, make sure to call your doctor and discuss the problem.

How hydroxyurea works

Hydroxyurea is an antineoplastic drug that works by preventing the growth of the cancer cells. This medication obstructs the synthesis of DNA in the cancer cells and slows down the repair of such cells. In this manner, this medication also helps to reduce the survival rate of the cancer cells. However, using hydroxyurea may also result in a number of undesirable side effects; for instance, it has the potential to have an effect on the growth as well as the development of other types of cells in the body.

Side effects

Less common

Possible interactions

Like most other drugs, hydroxyurea is also known to interact with a number of medicines, especially herbal products and minerals and they should never be taken concurrently. In addition, this medication also causes adverse after effects due to consumption of alcoholic beverages and exposure to sunlight.

A number of patients are known to use the herb Echinacea with a view to perk up their immune systems. However, it is unfortunate to note that using Echinacea may actually be detrimental for the health, especially for people with already impaired immune systems. Thus, they should never use this herb. In effect, this herb has the aptitude to further weaken any immune system if it is used too frequently or for a prolonged period of time. In addition to Echinacea, even St. John's wort has the potential to result in serious or extreme reactions when exposed to the sun. This herb may result in additive photosensitivity.

Since alcohol has been found to interact with hydroxyurea, people taking this medication should keep away from all types of alcoholic drinks. In addition, they should also exercise caution while going outdoors in the sun. People taking hydroxyurea need to use additional cautions in this regard at least till sensitivity has been found out. In addition, medications that are closely related to hydroxyurea may also result in photosensitivity.


People taking hydroxyurea should discontinue taking this medication only after prior consultation with their doctor. Soon after the use of this medication is stopped, there ought to be a timely assessment to check if the patient has developed any changes in hearing or vision, is enduring seizures, abnormal weakness of the muscles, exceptional bruising or hemorrhage and/ or signs of any infection, such as sore throat, fever and others.

Storage instructions

Hydroxyurea should always be stored at room temperature at around 77°F (25°C). However, this medication can also be stored in temperatures ranging between 59°F and 86°F (15°C and 30°C) for a brief period. Hydroxyurea ought to be always stored in a place away from light and moisture. Never store this medication in your bathroom, which is mostly damp. It is also important to keep the medication in such a place, which is beyond the reach of children and pets.

Unless instructed otherwise, do not discard the medications that have become outdated or are no longer needed by flushing them down the toilet or pouring into a drain. Ensure that you always discard the unwanted medications in a proper and safe manner. If required, you may also talk to your pharmacist or the neighbourhood disposal company regarding the safe and proper way of discarding the outdated medications, or those that are needed no more.


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