An advisory from Health Canada indicates that the chemotherapy drug capecitabine (Xeloda) is being associated with potentially fatal skin reactions.
The U.S. FDA has approved capecitabine for the treatment of metastatic colorectal and breast cancer. Recently, the agency approved a generic version of the drug manufactured by Teva Pharmaceuticals.
Severe side effects
Officials from Health Canada reported in a letter to health professionals that "very rare cases of severe cutaneous reactions such as Stevens-Johnson syndrome (SJS) and toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), in some cases with fatal outcome, have been reported during treatment with [capecitabine]."
They cited some signs and symptoms to look out for as well, including:
- Flu-like symptoms
- Skin itching
- Painful red or purplish skin rash that spreads, blisters and eventually causes the skin to shed
- Mouth sores
- Eye burning
These skin reactions are being considered so severe that any patient taking this medication who develops any of the listed symptoms ought to contact his or her doctor or health care team immediately.
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