Paclitaxel: A Chemotherapeutic with Natural Origins

Paclitaxel Injection

Paclitaxel Injection

Facts about Paclitaxel:

  • It is an antineoplastic agent used in the treatment of ovarian, breast and lung cancer
  • Its natural origins initially extracted from the bark of the Pacific Yew plant, which grows in Northwest America
  • Its mechanism of action prevents cell division by binding to the cell’s “skeleton”, which eventually leads to cell death
  • Following huge demand, for economical development and in fear of endangering the limited botanical species, this medicine is now created from a semi synthetic pathway, where extracts from other cultivated Yew plants are structurally modified prior to formulation

Paclitaxel is indicated according to the UK guideline body NICE as a second line agent for women with ovarian cancer with platinum resistance/allergy, or as a subsequent therapy to an agent such as carboplatin. Traditionally, paclitaxel was administered as a 24 hour infusion with prior pre-treatment with corticosteroids, antihistamines and H2 receptor antagonists. In a recent Cochrane Review 2011, early studies have shown that a shorter infusion time of 3 hours with the same dose was linked to less adverse effects and severe toxicity.

Paclitaxel manufactured by Taj Generics Pharmaceuticals is available in 150 mg/25 mL and 300 mg/50 mL injectable dosage forms, as the generic equivalent of Onxol and Taxol. A lyophilised injection formulation is also available, in 100 mg, 250 mg and 500 mg doses.
Ref: Williams C., Byrant A. ‘Short versus long duration infusions of paclitaxel for any advanced adenocarcinoma’ Cochrane Database Syst Review. 2011; Issue 5