Filgrastim is a ‘growth factor’ used to prevent infections and fever due to decreased white blood cells as a result of cancer treatment. It belongs to a class of medicines called G-‘CSF’ or Granulocyte- ‘Colony Stimulating Factors.’
Uses of Filgrastim
- Stimulate the production of a type of white blood cells (granulocytes)
- Granulocytes are one of the kinds of white blood cells and constitute neutrophils, basophils and eosinophils. The main function of all these granulocytes is to fight infections
- The primary purpose of Filgastrim is to increase the numbers of cells that fight infections because cancer medicines are powerful and kill the blood cells along with cancer cells
- To mobilize stem cells in patients undergoing bone marrow transplants (peripheral blood stem cell mobilization). Stem cells are a kind of mother cells produced in the bone marrow from which all blood cells are producedRead less
- Filgrastim can be used to mobilize these stem cells from bone marrow into the blood then collected, stored and later used for bone marrow transplantation (in disease and cancers that destroy bone marrow)Read less
- To prevent the risk of infections in certain immune compromised patients e.g., HIV patients
- Filgrastim is not a medicine to treat any particular type of cancer
Contraindications of Filgrastim
When should one not use Filgrastim
If you have allergy to Filgrastim or any of the components of the medicine.
Side effects of Filgrastim
Common side effects of this drug are:
- Feeling sick (nausea), vomiting, headache
- Fever, fatigue, hair loss
- Swelling and soreness of the lining of the digestive tract anywhere between the mouth and the anus
- Low red blood cells and thrombocytes
- Infections of the nose, throat, lung and urinary tract, feeling dizzy, sleeping problems, decreased sensation, tingling and numbness of hands and feet, low or high blood pressure, cough and coughing blood, nose bleed, pain in the mouth and throat, skin redness, difficulty in passing urine, chest and muscle painsRead less
- Skin rashes and mouth ulcers and stomach (due to rejection of transplanted bone marrow, a condition known as graft versus host disease), high uric acid levels, allergic reactions, bone loss or thinning (osteoporosis), lung complicationsRead less
- Severe allergic reaction like- fever, chills, rash, hives, breathing difficulty, swelling over your face, lips, throat, with or without itching, rashes, skin peeling; cough fever and difficulty in breathing; pain in the stomach, left rib cage or tip of the shoulder, blood in the urine, leaking of blood from small blood vessels (capillaries) called capillary leak syndrome; high fever, chills, elevated heart rate, breathing difficulty, confusion, severe pain (a life-threatening condition called sepsis); muscle and bone pain; rashes on palms and soles of feet, sores and ulcers in mouth, gut, liver, skin, eyes, lungs, joints or vaginaRead less
Precautions and Warnings of Filgrastim
Can I take Filgrastim during pregnancy?
Though there are no adequate studies done on Filgrastim, this medicine has the potential to harm the baby and should not be given in pregnant women.
Can I take Filgrastim while breastfeeding?
It is unknown if Filgrastim is secreted in breast milk. It should be used in breastfeeding mothers only if necessary and cannot be replaced.
Can I drive if I have consumed Filgrastim?
Filgrastim has little or no effect on your ability to drive. It can cause occasional dizziness and caution is recommended.
Can I consume alcohol with Filgrastim?
Alcohol lowers immunity and increases the risk of infections. As cancer patients are at increased risk for infections and Filgrastim is used to prevent infections, consumption of alcohol is not advised.
Other General Warnings
Talk to your doctor if
- You have sickle cell anemia (a genetic disorder causing death of red blood cells)
- You have bone loss or thinning (osteoporosis)
- You have unusual bleeding or bruising
- You have sudden allergy, rashes or breathing problems, swelling of face and feet and blood in the urine (signs of kidney damage)
Mode of Action of Filgrastim
How Does It Work?
Filgrastim works on the bone marrow, which is the center for producing all types of blood cells. This medicine stimulates the production of white blood cells, particularly neutrophils, which are essential for fighting infection and improving the survival rate of cancer patients. Cancer treatment with medicines or radiation causes destruction of white blood cells.
Interactions of Filgrastim
Interactions with other medicines
Filgrastim should not be used up to 24 hours before or after taking cancer treatment (medicines or radiation).
Interactions with food items
Filgastrim can be taken with or without food but preferably on an empty stomach.
Dietary Restrictions of Filgrastim
Drink plenty of water.
Dosage of Filgrastim
Overdose may cause breathing trouble, dizziness or stomach problems. Contact your doctor as soon as possible.
Missed a Dose
Contact your doctor if you missed a dose and take his advice on when to take the next dose. Do not double the dose.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Q: Is there anything else I need to know before taking Filgrastim?
- Dosage of Filgrastim depends on factors such as height, weight, general health and other problems. Take this medicine exactly as prescribed by the doctor. Do not self-medicate or self-adjust the dose
- There may be many side effects with Filgrastim because the patient already has cancer and is undergoing treatment. But do not worry, as most of these effects can be managed and disappear once you stop taking the medicineRead less
- Filgrastim should be stored in a refrigerator and taken out 30 minutes before administration. Do not use the medicine if it is kept out of a refrigerator for more than 15 days
- Filgrastim is given as an injection below your skin (subcutaneous) or as slow drip through your veins (intravenous drip)
- Keep in mind that this medicine may interfere with some lab tests (like bone imaging tests) and give false test results
Q: Does Filgrastim cure cancer?
- Filgrastim does not cure any cancer. It is a supportive treatment in cancer patients which help to fight infections due to the treatment
- It will allow you to continue and complete the full course of cancer treatment and increases your chances of cure
- Filgrastim is a substitute for the naturally occurring substance in our body called ‘Granulocyte-Colony Stimulating Factor,’ which increases the production of white blood cells. This growth factor is produced in a bacteria called Escherichia Coli using recombinant DNA technology for treatment purposeRead less
- Filgastrim, EMC. Accofil 30 MU/0.5 ml (0.6 mg/ml) solution for injection or infusion in pre-filled syringe. [Accessed on 13 Sep, 2019], (online)
- Filgastrim, EMC UK, [Accessed on 13 Sep, 2019],
- Chemocare.filgrstim, [Accessed on 13 Sep, 2019], (Online)
- Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed) [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); 2006-. Filgrastim. [Updated 2019 Jun 3].
- Cancer care ontario.Filgrastim [accessed on 24Aug2019] (Online)
Last Updated on: 05 Oct 2020 | 10:47 PM (IST)
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