Subcutaneous administration of an antiemetic for treating vomiting caused by chemotherapy

The subcutaneous administration of granisetron, an antiemetic pharmaceutical drug (suitable for control of vomiting), achieves similar blood concentrations to those administered intravenously.

This was the conclusion of clinical tests undertaken by specialists at the University Hospital of Navarra, the results of which have been recently published in the prestigious North American medical journal, The Oncologist.

Granisetrón is a pharmaceutical drug the efficacy of which against vomiting (antiemetic), when administered orally or intravenously, has already been shown, but never studied when given subcutaneously. The research shows that the antiemetic granisetron, administered subcutaneously, behaves in a similar manner as when injected intravenously. The advantage of the subcutaneous method is the ease of treatment for non-hospitalised patients. For these patients using the intravenous method it is problematic, requiring, as it does, specialised care; while administering orally may involve the patient vomiting.

This is why subcutaneous administration opens new perspectives, providing a comfortable and easy way of home-based treatment, either with self-medication by the patients themselves or administered by their carers, in either case reducing the dependence on trained medical personnel.

The fundamental objective of the work undertaken was, thereby, to demonstrate if it were feasible for the patients themselves to manage to self-medicate the antiemetic in their own homes in case of vomiting as a consequence of chemotherapy treatment. In this way, the patient does not have to go to a hospital in order to control nauseas and vomiting. Nevertheless, this form of medication is also useful for healthcare personnel such as the emergency services.

A total of 30 patients participated in the trial. All were medicated with granisetron, using one of the two forms of administration, intravenous or subcutaneous, during the first cycle of chemotherapy and, in the following cycle, the other alternative was employed. Then a number of blood samples of all the patients were obtained in order to determine the concentration of the pharmaceutical drug in each sample.

The conclusions of the study confirm that the concentrations of granisetron obtained were equivalent in both methods of medication. This is why the research supports the administration of granisetron subcutaneously as a new alternative for the treatment of cancer patients.

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