Sustol approved for chemotherapy nausea

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Using chemotherapy to fight disease usually means nausea and vomiting for the patient but a new drug, Sustol, may help chemo patients ease that side effect.

Sustol has just been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.  Sustol is an extended-release injection.  It’s designed to prevent the vomiting and nausea that often occurs right after chemo but which may also continue some days later.  Drug maker Heron Therapeutics says drugs that are similar to Sustol are usually only effective for 48 hours or less, but Sustol will keep working for almost a week.  According to Ralph Boccia, MD, the Director of the Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders in Ft. Worth, TX, that’s important.

“Despite advances in the management of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting, up to half of patients receiving chemotherapy can still experience CINV, with delayed CINV being particularly challenging to control,” he said. “Sustol, due to its extended-release profile, represents a novel option that can protect patients from CINV for a full 5 days.”

Nausea top cause of patients ending chemotherapy

According to the National Institutes of Health, nausea and vomiting occurs in up to 80 percent of chemo patients.  Those side effects are the leading cause of patients discontinuing their treatment. One review quoted on an NIH web page found that despite the high costs associated with providing medicine that helps reduce this nausea and vomiting the direct cost of care was higher for patients who did not receive adequate nausea-preventing drugs. Indirect costs related to lost work hours were also higher for patients with uncontrolled nausea and vomiting.


Sustol is a serotonin-3 (5-HT3) receptor antagonist used, in combination with other anti-nausea drugs, in adults undergoing initial and repeat courses of moderately emetogenic chemotherapy (MEC) or anthracycline and cyclophosphamide (AC) combination chemotherapy regimens.  AC-based regimens are among the most commonly prescribed for the side-effects of chemo for breast, leukemia and other cancers.  However, Sustol has not been approved to used along with platinum-based therapies.

Heron Therapeutics hopes to have Sustol available for patients by the fall.

About the Author

Ed Tobias
Ed Tobias brings more than four decades of reporting and news management experience to his work at Rx411. Tobias managed news coverage for Associated Press Radio for over twenty years. This included coverage of the 9/11 attacks, the Iraq War, Hurricane Katrina, the death of Princess Diana, the Challenger and Columbia shuttle disasters and national election primaries, conventions and campaigns. He was part of the team that built AP’s on-line video operation. Prior to joining AP, Tobias was News Director at all-news WTOP in Washington, D.C.