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What is amifostine?

Amifostine (also called Ethyol®) is a medicine that may help reduce some side effects that can occur after chemotherapy or radiation therapy, such as:

  • Hearing loss and kidney problems caused by cisplatin;
  • Skin breakdown and inflammation (swelling, heat, redness, and pain);
  • Low blood counts; and
  • Dry mouth caused by radiation therapy.

Amifostine is a liquid given by the vein (IV) for 5-15 minutes. It can also be injected just under the skin (called a subcutaneous injection).

Possible side effects of amifostine


  • Low blood pressure
  • Feeling drowsy
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Anxiety
  • Warm or flushed feeling
  • Sneezing
  • Low calcium levels in the blood
  • Allergic-type reactions (rare)

Later (usually more than a day after treatment starts)

  • Low calcium levels in the blood (may last for up to a week)
  • Low magnesium levels in the blood

These are the most common side effects, but there may be others. Please report all side effects to the doctor or nurse.

In case of a severe side effect or reaction, call the doctor, nurse, or pharmacist at 595-3300. If you are outside the Memphis area, dial toll-free 1-866-2STJUDE (1-866-278-5833), and press 0 once the call is connected.

Special instructions for amifostine

  • If you are taking medicine for high blood pressure, you should stop taking it 24 hours before you receive amifostine. Your doctor will tell you when you should restart your blood pressure medicine.
  • Your doctor or nurse will ask you to lie down while you receive IV amifostine and for one (1) hour after receiving the drug. Lying down will help you avoid low blood pressure episodes.
  • The nurse will check your blood pressure while you are receiving IV amifostine. If your blood pressure drops below a certain level, the medicine may be stopped for a short time or stopped completely, or the dose may be decreased. Your doctor will decide what to do.
  • You need to drink plenty of fluid throughout the day if you are receiving IV amifostine, at least one (1) liter of fluid a day. You should drink at least 2 cups of fluid before receiving the subcutaneous injection. Drinking large amounts of fluid will help you feel better while you receive amifostine.
  • Your doctor will give you medicine to reduce nausea while you receive amifostine.
  • The staff will check calcium and magnesium levels in the blood throughout the day and for up to one (1) week after you receive amifostine. Your doctor may want you to take calcium or magnesium by mouth or by vein (IV) to keep those levels normal.
  • Call your doctor right away if you notice any signs of low calcium or low magnesium levels, such as tremors, muscle spasms, muscle twitching, muscle cramps, or feeling confused.
  • The staff will take blood samples to check for changes in blood counts and kidney function.


This document is not intended to take the place of the care and attention of your personal physician or other professional medical services. Our aim is to promote active participation in your care and treatment by providing information and education. Questions about individual health concerns or specific treatment options should be discussed with your physician.

St. Jude complies with health care-related federal civil rights laws and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, age, disability, or sex.

ATTENTION: If you speak another language, assistance services, free of charge, are available to you. Call 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

ATENCIÓN: si habla español, tiene a su disposición servicios gratuitos de asistencia lingüística. Llame al 1-866-278-5833 (TTY: 1-901-595-1040).

تنبيه: إذا كنت تتحدث باللغة العربية فيمكنك الاستعانة بخدمات المساعدة اللغوية المتوفرة لك مجانا. .يرجى الاتصال بالرقم. 5833-278-866-1  (الهاتف النصي: 1040-595-901-1).