Eltrombopag (Promacta®)

OncoLink Team
Last Modified: July 26, 2017

Pronounced: el-TROM-boe-pag

Classification: Antithrombin Agent

About Eltrombopag (Promacta®)

Eltrombopag is a man-made protein used to treat a low platelet count (thrombocytopenia) in adults that is caused by idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura (also called ITP). Eltrombopag is a thrombopoietin receptor agonist that stimulates bone marrow cells to produce platelets.

How to Take Eltrombopag

Eltrombopag is given in a pill or liquid form, taken once a day. The medication should be taken on an empty stomach (1 hour before or 2 hours after eating). Take the tablets whole, do not crush, chew or break. If you are using the liquid form, you will receive instructions on how to prepare the dose. If you miss a dose, wait and take the next scheduled dose. Do not take two doses to make up for a missed dose.

It is important to make sure you are taking the correct amount of medication every time. Before every dose, check that what you are taking matches what you have been prescribed.

The following compounds significantly reduce the absorption of Eltrombopag and should not be consumed for at least 4 hours before or 2 hours after taking the medication:

  • Dairy products or calcium fortified juices
  • Antacids (used for heartburn or as calcium supplements)
  • Multivitamins or supplements that contain iron, calcium, aluminum, magnesium, selenium or zinc.

The recommended starting dose is 50mg a day. Patients of East Asian ancestry or those with liver problems will be started at a lower dose due to the risk of liver toxicity.  You will have lab work regularly to monitor your blood counts and liver function.

Storage and Handling

Store your medication in the original, labeled container at room temperature and in a dry location (unless otherwise directed by your healthcare provider or pharmacist). This medication should not be stored in a pillbox. Keep containers out of reach of children and pets.

If a caregiver prepares your dose for you, they should consider wearing gloves or pour the pills directly from their container into the cap, a small cup, or directly into your hand. They should avoid touching the pills. They should always wash their hands before and after giving you the medication. Pregnant or nursing women should not prepare the dose for you. Ask your oncology team where to return any unused medication for disposal. Do not flush down the toilet or throw in the trash.

Where do I get this medication?

This medication is available through a limited access program. It is only available through registered pharmacies. Your care team will work to identify where you can fill this prescription.

Insurance Information

This medication may be covered under your prescription drug plan. Patient assistance may be available to qualifying individuals depending upon prescription drug coverage. Co-pay cards, which reduce the patient co-pay responsibility for eligible commercially (non-government sponsored) insured patients, may also be available. Your care team can help you find these resources, if they are available.

Possible Side Effects of Eltrombopag

There are a number of things you can do to manage the side effects of eltrombopag. Talk to your care team about these recommendations. They can help you decide what will work best for you. These are some of the most common or important side effects:

Liver Toxicity

This medication can cause liver toxicity, which your doctor may monitor for using blood tests called liver function tests. Notify your healthcare provider if you notice yellowing of the skin or eyes, your urine appears dark or brown, you develop swelling or pain in your abdomen, as these can be signs of liver toxicity.

Diarrhea

Your oncology team can recommend medications to relieve diarrhea. Also, try eating low-fiber, bland foods, such as white rice and boiled or baked chicken. Avoid raw fruits, vegetables, whole grain breads, cereals and seeds. Soluble fiber is found in some foods and absorbs fluid, which can help relieve diarrhea. Foods high in soluble fiber include: applesauce, bananas (ripe), canned fruit, orange sections, boiled potatoes, white rice, products made with white flour, oatmeal, cream of rice, cream of wheat, and farina. Drink 8-10 glasses on non-alcoholic, un-caffeinated fluid a day to prevent dehydration.

Worsening of the Platelet Count After Stopping the Medication

In clinical trials, some patients experienced lower platelet counts when the medication was stopped than they had before taking the medication. This side effect is most likely to occur shortly after stopping eltrombopag and may last about 1 month. This lower platelet count increases the risk of bleeding, so precautions should be taken and any bruising or bleeding should be reported to your healthcare provider.

Vision Changes

Eltrombopag can cause new or worsened cataracts. Your healthcare provided may check your eyes before and during treatment. Symptoms of cataracts include: cloudy, blurry or dim vision, difficulty with night vision, sensitivity to light or seeing halos around lights. Report any vision changes to your healthcare team.

Blood Clots

Your risk of developing a blood clot (DVT or PE) is higher while taking this medication. Symptoms can include: swelling, redness or pain in an extremity, or shortness of breath. If you experience symptoms of these problems, you should contact your healthcare provider immediately or go to an emergency room.

Nausea and/or Vomiting

Talk to your doctor or nurse so they can prescribe medications to help you manage nausea and vomiting. In addition, dietary changes may help. Avoid things that may worsen the symptoms, such as heavy or greasy/fatty, spicy or acidic foods (lemons, tomatoes, oranges). Try antacids, (e.g. milk of magnesia, calcium tablets such as Tums), saltines, or ginger ale to lessen symptoms.

Call your doctor or nurse if you are unable to keep fluids down for more than 12 hours or if you feel lightheaded or dizzy at any time.

Reproductive Concerns

Exposure of an unborn child to this medication could cause birth defects, so you should not become pregnant or father a child while on this medication. Effective birth control is necessary during treatment. Even if your menstrual cycle stops or you believe you are not producing sperm, you could still be fertile and conceive. You should consult with your healthcare team before breastfeeding while receiving this medication.


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