Ixempra (Ixabepilone) - Use, Definition, and Indications

Indications for Using Ixempra for Metastatic Breast Cancer

When is the chemotherapy drug Ixempra used?. Istockphoto.com/Stock Photo©contrail1


Ixempra is a chemotherapy drug used to treat breast cancer. It is used after certain other drugs have been tried and your cancer either doesn’t respond, or is no longer responding to treatment. Ixempra is a member of the epothilones, and was approved by the FDA for the treatment of metastatic breast cancer in 2007.

Also known as: Ixabepilone

Use for Breast Cancer

This drug is used to treat metastatic or locally advanced breast cancer.

Ixempra is prescribed primarily for patients whose tumors are resistant to, or no longer benefiting from anthracyclines (such as Adriamycin), taxanes (such as Taxol), and capecitabine (Xeloda).  Ixempra may be less likely than some of these other medications to become ineffective over time (develop resistance.)

How it Works

Ixempra is part of the antineoplastic agent class of drugs. This drug slows or prevents the growth of a neoplasm, or tumor, by preventing cell division.  Since the drug interferes with cell division, it also causes typical chemotherapy side effects (see page 2..)

How Ixempra is Given

Ixempra is given as an intravenous infusion into a vein or chemotherapy port. It can be given alone, or in conjunction with the oral drug Xeloda (capecitabine.)

About an hour before your infusion, you will be given premedications that reduce your chance of an allergic reaction. If you do have an allergic reaction, you can be given a steroid before your infusion.

This drug is usually given once every three weeks, and infusions take about three hours each.     

Ixempra is a chemotherapy drug used to treat metastatic breast cancer.  As with any drug, it carries the risk of potential side effects -- not all of which will be experienced by everyone who takes it.

Common Side Effects of Ixempra

Possible Serious Side Effects of Ixempra

  • Neutropenia (low white blood cell count; risk of infection)
  • Allergic reactions (itching; hives; rash; flushed face; heart palpitations; troubled breathing; swollen face, throat or tongue)

Other Risks of Using Ixempra

  • May cause harm to unborn babies
  • May leach into breast milk
  • Can cause adverse reactions in patients with cardiac disease

Radiation Recall

If Ixempra is used shortly after a patient receives radiation therapy, there is a chance of developing a complication known as radiation recall.  Radiation recall occurs due to inflammation in the region in which radiation is given, and can result in skin redness, swelling, and blistering.

Do Not Take Ixempra If:

  • You have poor liver function
  • You have liver problems and already take capecitabine
  • You have an allergy to Cremophor EL or castor oil
  • Your white blood cell is lower than 1500 cells/mm3 or platelet counts are less than <100,000 cells/mm3
  • You are pregnant

Recommendations During Treatment

  • Use contraception to prevent pregnancy
  • Avoid grapefruit juice during an infusion, as it can amplify your side effects
  • Avoid driving or operating machinery, as the alcohol in Ixempra may cause drowsiness and dizziness

Drug Interactions

Due to its mechanism of action, Ixempra may interact with several other medications.  Talk to your oncologist before taking any other medications or nutritional supplement while using Ixempra.


Denduluri, N., and S. Swain. Ixabepilone: clinical role in metastatic breast cancer. Clinical Breast Cancer. 2011. 11(3):139-45.

Schott, A. Systemic treatment of metastatic breast cancer in women: Chemotherapy. UptoDate. Updated 08/21/15. http://www.uptodate.com/contents/systemic-treatment-of-metastatic-breast-cancer-in-women-chemotherapy

Takiar, V. et al. Locoregional interaction of ixabepilone (ixempra) after breast cancer radiation. Oncologist. 2013. 18(3):265-70.

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