What is mitoxantrone?
Mitoxantrone, also called Navantrone, is used to treat Multiple Sclerosis. It is also used to treat cancers.
Why use mitoxantrone in MS?
Mitoxantrone is used in MS to slow down the over-active immune system. This overactive immune system is believed to be responsible for an MS patient’s worsening condition.
In which MS patients is mitoxantrone used?
Mitoxantrone is used in patients with very frequent MS relapses or who quickly become disabled despite treatment with the interferons or Copaxone®.
How is mitoxantrone given?
Mitoxantrone is given as an IV infusion once every three months. Patients receive mitoxantrone at an outpatient infusion center and do not need to be admitted into the hospital. Each treatment takes five to six hours to administer. Other medications, including IV steroids and anti-nausea medications, are also given during the infusion.
What effect does mitoxantrone have on pregnancy and fertility?
Mitoxantrone can interfere with the normal menstrual period in women and temporarily stop sperm production in men. Rarely, mitoxantrone can make a patient sterile. This does not mean that the patient or their partner cannot become pregnant while on this treatment. Because mitoxantrone can harm a fetus, it is important to use a reliable birth control method during this treatment.
Is it safe to breastfeed while taking mitoxantrone?
No. Mitoxantrone enters breast milk so a patient should not plan on breast-feeding during treatment or for several months afterwards.
What are the common side effects associated with mitoxantrone?
Common side effects include temporarily thinned or brittle hair, darkened skin, and loss or appetite or weight. Mitoxantrone will temporarily weaken a patient’s immune system. Patients should try to avoid people with infections and should not receive live vaccines. The infusion is dark blue and may make the urine and even the whites of the eyes blue-green in color for a short period after each treatment. Mitoxantrone can interfere with fertility as described above.
What are less common side effects?
Less common side effects include painful urination or red urine, black tarry stools, unusual bruising or bleeding, or rash, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, fever, chills, swelling of the feet and ankles, and nausea. Mitoxantrone can cause damage to the heart muscle. It has also been associated with the development of some cancers.
What tests are required while I receive mitoxantrone treatments?
Periodic blood tests to check the blood cells, liver and kidney function as well as a heart function test are required before each infusion. Heart function can be tested with a painless ultrasound (echocardiogram) or a similar procedure.