The FDA is warning that the intravenous chemotherapy drug docetaxel contains ethanol, also known as alcohol, which may cause patients to experience intoxication or feel drunk during and after treatment. The FDA is revising the labels of all docetaxel drug products to warn about this risk. Health care professionals should consider the alcohol content of docetaxel when prescribing or administering the drug to patients, particularly in those whom alcohol intake should be avoided or minimized and when using it in conjunction with other medications.
Patients should be aware that docetaxel may cause them to become intoxicated from the alcohol it contains. Patients should avoid driving, operating machinery, or performing other activities that are dangerous for one to two hours after the infusion of docetaxel. In addition, some medications, such as pain relievers and sleep aids, may interact with the alcohol in the docetaxel infusion and worsen the intoxicating effects.
Docetaxel is a prescription chemotherapy drug used to treat different kinds of cancer, including cancers of the breast, prostate, stomach, head and neck cancers, and non-small-cell lung cancer. Several forms of docetaxel are currently marketed, including generics and the brand-name products Taxotere, Docefrez, and Docetaxel Injection. The various products contain different amounts of alcohol, which is used to dissolve the active ingredients so docetaxel can be given intravenously. Health care professionals should be aware of the differences in formulations in order to monitor and counsel patients appropriately.
See the FDA Announcement
See also Medical Law Perspectives, May 2013 Report: Drugs, Dosage, and Damage: Physician Liability for Prescribing or Administering Medication