|Systematic (IUPAC) name|
|Trade names||Zofran Ondisolv|
|Pregnancy cat.||B1 (AU) B (US)|
|Legal status||Prescription Only (S4) (AU) ℞-only (US)|
|Routes||Oral, rectal, IV, IM|
|Metabolism||Hepatic (CYP3A4, CYP1A2, CYP2D6)|
|Mol. mass||293.4 g/mol|
| (what is this?)
Ondansetron (INN) (//; developed and first marketed by GlaxoSmithKline as Zofran) is a serotonin 5-HT3 receptor antagonist used mainly as an antiemetic (to treat nausea and vomiting), often following chemotherapy. It affects both peripheral and central nerves. Ondansetron reduces the activity of the vagus nerve, which deactivates the vomiting center in the medulla oblongata, and also blocks serotonin receptors in the chemoreceptor trigger zone. It has little effect on vomiting caused by motion sickness, and does not have any effect on dopamine receptors or muscarinic receptors.
Although an effective anti-emetic agent, the high cost of brand-name ondansetron initially limited its use to controlling postoperative nausea and vomiting (PONV) and chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV).
The 5-HT3 receptor antagonists are the primary drugs used to treat and prevent chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV). A common use case is to give them intravenously about 30 minutes before commencement of a chemotherapy treatment.
A number of medications including ondansetron appear to be effective in controlling post-operative nausea and vomiting (PONV). It is unclear if it is better than or worse than other agents like droperidol, metoclopramide, or cyclizine.
Ondansetron is used off-label to treat morning sickness and hyperemesis gravidarum of pregnancy. A cohort study of over 600,000 pregnancies in Denmark found that ondansetron administration during pregnancy is not associated with a significantly increased risk of spontaneous abortion,stillbirth, major birth defect, preterm birth, low birth weight, or small for gestational age. However, in practice, ondansetron is typically used after trials of other drugs have failed.
Cyclic vomiting syndrome
Trials in emergency department (ED) settings support the use of ondansetron to reduce vomiting associated with gastroenteritis and dehydration. A retrospective review found that it was used commonly for this purpose, being administered in over 58% of cases. Its use reduced hospital admissions, but was also associated with higher rates of return visits to the ED. Furthermore, patients who had initially received ondansetron were more likely to be admitted on the return visit than patients who had not received the drug. However, this effect may simply be due to the agent being used more frequently in patients who present with more severe illness. Its use was not found to mask serious diagnoses.
Ondansetron is a well-tolerated drug with few side effects. Constipation, dizziness and headache are the most commonly reported side effects associated with its use. There have been no significant drug interactions reported with this drug's use. It is broken down by the hepatic cytochrome P450 system and it has little effect on the metabolism of other drugs broken down by this system.
On September 15, 2011, the U.S. FDA issued a Medwatch Safety Alert for ondansetron in patients with congenital Long QT syndrome, a heart arrhythmia. The FDA further required GlaxoSmithKline to conduct a thorough QT study to determine the degree to which ondansetron may cause QT interval prolongation. On June 29, 2012, the FDA issued a Drug Safety Communication Update entitled New information regarding QT prolongation with ondansetron (Zofran). Ondansetron was included in the List of Potential Signals of Serious Risks/New Safety Information Identified by the FDA Adverse Event Reporting System (FAERS) between January– March 2013. As a result of these concerns, the rarely prescribed 32-mg dose of ondansetron was voluntarily removed from the market in December, 2012.
Ondansetron was developed around 1984 by scientists working at Glaxo's laboratories in London. It is in both the imidazole and carbazole families of heterocyclic compounds. After several attempts the company successfully filed for U.S. patent protection for the drug in 1986 and was granted in June 1988 while a use patent was granted in June 1988. A divisional use patent was granted on November 26, 1996. Ondansetron was granted FDA approval as Zofran in January 1991. Glaxo did pediatric research on Zofran's uses, and gained a patent extension as a result, extending U.S. exclusivity until December 24, 2006. The FDA subsequently approved the first generic versions in December 2006, with marketing approval granted to Teva Pharmaceuticals USA and SICOR Pharmaceuticals.
Ondansetron is marketed by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) under the trade name Zofran. Other manufacturers include Pfizer Injectables (Ondanzetron), Opsonin Pharma Bangladesh (Anset), Strativa Pharmaceuticals (Zuplenz), Indswift Ltd. (Ondisolv), Cipla Ltd. (Emeset), Gedeon Richter Ltd. (Emetron), Korea United Pharmaceuticals (Emodan), Zentiva a.s. (Ondemet), Strides Arcolab (Setronax), Emistat (Unimed and Unihealth Bangladesh Ltd.) Glenmark Generics Ltd. (India) (Ondansetron) and Novell Pharmaceutical Laboratories (Ondavell). On May 29, 2006, Baxter Healthcare received tentative approval to market its own label of Ondansetron Injection, USP, 8 mg/50 mL and 32 mg/50 mL iso-osmotic sodium chloride solution, beginning upon expiration of GSK's patent later that year.
In 1997, ondansetron was the subject of a meta-analysis case-study published in the British Medical Journal. Researchers examined 84 trials, with 11,980 patients receiving ondansetron, published between 1991 and September 1996. Intravenous ondansetron 4 mg versus placebo was investigated in 16 reports and three further reports which had been duplicated six times. The number needed to treat (NNT) to prevent vomiting within 24 hours was 9.5, with 95% confidence interval 6.9 to 15, in the 16 non-duplicated reports. In the three duplicated reports, the NNT was significantly lower at 3.9 (3.3 to 4.8) with P<0.00001. When all 25 reports were combined the apparent number needed to treat improved to 4.9 (4.4 to 5.6). Inclusion of duplicate reports led to a 23% overestimation of ondansetron's antiemetic efficacy.
In addition, the authors found that the covert duplication of reports on ondansetron was not easy to detect, because of lack of cross-referencing between papers, and that reports containing duplicate findings were cited in eight reviews of the drug. Their analysis was a subject of an editorial in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1999.
A 2006 double-blind, randomized controlled trial indicated that ondansetron may have value in the treatment of schizophrenia, as an adjunct to haloperidol. The study found the combination to significantly improve negative schizophrenia symptoms, and people taking both drugs experienced fewer of the adverse effects commonly associated with haloperidol. An earlier, smaller, open-label trial had found ondansetron to be useful in treating antipsychotic-induced tardive dyskinesia in people with schizophrenia, and the study patients also showed significant improvement in the disease's symptoms.
Early studies have also examined ondansetron as a possible treatment for psychosis resulting from advanced Parkinson's disease. Its apparent benefits despite a lack of any significant antagonistic properties at dopamine receptors or the 5-HT2A receptor raises interesting questions about the etiology of psychosis.
Hewlett and others found that the treatment of obsessive compulsive disorder with Ondansetron 1 mg three times daily was associated with a significant decrease in the Yale Brown Obsessive Compulsive scores in a small (n=8), 8-week, open-label study.
Ondansetron lowers the cravings for alcohol, especially in early-onset alcoholics. In one cognitive-behavioral therapy study, ondansetron patients with early-onset alcoholism had fewer drinks per day and reported more days without drinking at all, as compared to the other groups in the study. Also of note, individuals with the LL genotype show significant improvements in alcohol misuse when treated with ondansetron, compared with individuals with the other genotypes of the 5HTTLPR polymorphism, who showed no improvement over placebo.
Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have demonstrated that ondansetron might be useful and effective for treating withdrawal symptoms of opioid addictions. Unlike the existing treatments methadone and buprenorphine, it is not itself an opioid. Additionally, it does not require continued supervision like treatment with clonidine.
The original experiment used mice who were injected with increasing doses of morphine, assayed with naloxone and then underwent haplotypic analysis to isolate a gene candidate. HTR3A which codes for the 5-HT3 receptor emerged as the primary candidate, which suggested 5-HT3 antagonist ondansetron as a possible treatment. The researchers were then able to show using an acute morphine administration model the efficacy in withdrawal symptom control in humans.
Two small, placebo-controlled trials have been conducted to assess the efficacy of ondansetron for postanesthetic shivering, a common occurrence after surgery. Ondansetron was found to be as effective as pethidine (meperidine, Demerol) when given as a single IV dose before anesthesia.
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- Pasternak B, Svanström H, Hviid A (February 2013). "Ondansetron in pregnancy and risk of adverse fetal outcomes". N. Engl. J. Med. 368 (9): 814–23. doi:10.1056/NEJMoa1211035. PMID 23445092.
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