Epirubicin hydrochloride


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Company: Pharmacia & Upjohn
Approval Status:  FDA Approved September 1999
Specific Treatments: Component of adjuvant therapy in patients with evidence of axillary node tumor involvement for primary breast cancer
Drug: Epirubicin hydrochloride injection



ELLENCE Injection (epirubicin hydrochloride injection) is an anthracycline cytotoxic agent intended for intravenous administration. ELLENCE is supplied as a sterile, clear, red solution and is available in polypropylene vials containing 50 and 200 mg of epirubicin hydrochloride as a preservative-free, ready-to-use solution. Each milliliter of solution contains 2 mg of epirubicin hydrochloride. Inactive ingredients include sodium chloride, USP, and water for injection, USP. The pH of the solution has been adjusted to 3.0 with hydrochloric acid, NF. Epirubicin hydrochloride is the 4’-epimer of doxorubicin and is a semi-synthetic derivative of daunorubicin. The chemical name is (8S-cis)-10-[(3-amino-2,3,6-trideoxy-a-L-arabino- hexopyranosyl)oxy]-7,8,9,10-tetrahydro-6,8,11-trihydroxy-8-(hydroxyacetyl)-1-methoxy-5,12- naphthacenedione hydrochloride. The active ingredient is a red-orange hygroscopic powder, with the empirical formula C27H29NO11HCl and a molecular weight of 579.95.


Two randomized, open-label, multicenter studies evaluated the use of ELLENCE Injection 100 to 120 mg/m 2 in combination with cyclophosphamide and fluorouracil for the adjuvant treatment of patients with axillary-node-positive breast cancer and no evidence of distant metastatic disease (Stage II or III). Study MA-5 evaluated 120 mg/m 2 of epirubicin per course in combination with cyclophosphamide and fluorouracil (CEF-120 regimen). This study randomized premenopausal and perimenopausal women with one or more positive lymph nodes to an epirubicin-containing CEF- 120 regimen or to a CMF regimen. Study GFEA-05 evaluated the use of 100 mg/m 2 of epirubicin per course in combination with fluorouracil and cyclophosphamide (FEC-100). This study randomized pre- and postmenopausal women to the FEC-100 regimen or to a lower-dose FEC-50 regimen. In the GFEA-05 study, eligible patients were either required to have > 4 nodes involved with tumor or, if only 1 to 3 nodes were positive, to have negative estrogen- and progesterone-receptors and a histologic tumor grade of 2 or 3. A total of 1281 women participated in these studies. Patients with T4 tumors were not eligible for either study.


Hematologic toxicity, cardiotoxicity can result. Patients should be informed of the expected adverse effects of epirubicin, including gastrointestinal symptoms (nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and stomatitis) and potential neutropenic complications.



Intravenously administered solution. Epirubicin is an anthracycline cytotoxic agent. Although it is known that anthracyclines can interfere with a number of biochemical and biological functions within eukaryotic cells, the precise mechanisms of epirubicin’s cytotoxic and/or antiproliferative properties have not been completely elucidated. Epirubicin forms a complex with DNA by intercalation of its planar rings between nucleotide base pairs, with consequent inhibition of nucleic acid (DNA and RNA) and protein synthesis. Such intercalation triggers DNA cleavage by topoisomerase II, resulting in cytocidal activity. Epirubicin also inhibits DNA helicase activity, preventing the enzymatic separation of double-stranded DNA and interfering with replication and transcription. Epirubicin is also involved in oxidation/reduction reactions by generating cytotoxic free radicals. The antiproliferative and cytotoxic activity of epirubicin is thought to result from these or other possible mechanisms. Epirubicin is cytotoxic in vitro to a variety of established murine and human cell lines and primary cultures of human tumors. It is also active in vivo against a variety of murine tumors and human xenografts in athymic mice, including breast tumors.

Source: centerwatch