You are here
Home > Oncology > Azacitidine – Vidaza®

oncology header image

Azacitidine - Vidaza®

The authors make no claims of the accuracy of the information contained herein; and these suggested doses and/or guidelines are not a substitute for clinical judgment. Neither GlobalRPh Inc. nor any other party involved in the preparation of this document shall be liable for any special, consequential, or exemplary damages resulting in whole or part from any user's use of or reliance upon this material.    PLEASE READ THE DISCLAIMER CAREFULLY BEFORE ACCESSING OR USING THIS SITE. BY ACCESSING OR USING THIS SITE, YOU AGREE TO BE BOUND BY THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS SET FORTH IN THE DISCLAIMER.

Usual Diluents

NS,   LR        [Note: INCOMPATIBLE with dextrose]

Dilution Data

Note: double mouse click to return to the top of the page
 Instructions for Subcutaneous Administration

 Instructions for Intravenous Administration

Stability / Miscellaneous
Note: double mouse click to return to the top of the page


Mechanism of Action
VIDAZA is a pyrimidine nucleoside analog of cytidine. VIDAZA is believed to exert its antineoplastic effects by causing hypomethylation of DNA and direct cytotoxicity on abnormal hematopoietic cells in the bone marrow. The concentration of azacitidine required for maximum inhibition of DNA methylation in vitro does not cause major suppression of DNA synthesis. Hypomethylation may restore normal function to genes that are critical for differentiation and proliferation. The cytotoxic effects of azacitidine cause the death of rapidly dividing cells, including cancer cells that are no longer responsive to normal growth control mechanisms. Non-proliferating cells are relatively insensitive to azacitidine.

The pharmacokinetics of azacitidine were studied in 6 MDS patients following a single 75 mg/m2 subcutaneous (SC) dose and a single 75 mg/m2 intravenous (IV) dose. Azacitidine is rapidly absorbed after SC administration; the peak plasma azacitidine concentration of 750 ± 403 ng/ml occurred in 0.5 hour. The bioavailability of SC azacitidine relative to IV azacitidine is approximately 89%, based on area under the curve. Mean volume of distribution following IV dosing is 76 ± 26 L. Mean apparent SC clearance is 167 ± 49 L/hour and mean half-life after SC administration is 41 ± 8 minutes.

Published studies indicate that urinary excretion is the primary route of elimination of azacitidine and its metabolites. Following IV administration of radioactive azacitidine to 5 cancer patients, the cumulative urinary excretion was 85% of the radioactive dose. Fecal excretion accounted for <1% of administered radioactivity over 3 days. Mean excretion of radioactivity in urine following SC administration of 14C-azacitidine was 50%. The mean elimination half-lives of total radioactivity (azacitidine and its metabolites) were similar after IV and SC administrations, about 4 hours.

Special Populations
The effects of renal or hepatic impairment, gender, age, or race on the pharmacokinetics of azacitidine have not been studied [see Dosage and Administration (2.4), Contraindications (4.1) and Warnings and Precautions (5.2, 5.3) -  [SEE PACKAGE INSERT FOR ADDITIONAL DETAILS]].

Drug-Drug Interactions
Drug interaction studies with azacitidine have not been conducted.

An in vitro study of azacitidine incubation in human liver fractions indicated that azacitidine may be metabolized by the liver. Whether azacitidine metabolism may be affected by known microsomal enzyme inhibitors or inducers has not been studied.

The potential of azacitidine to inhibit cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes is not known.

In vitro studies with human cultured hepatocytes indicate that azacitidine at concentrations of 1.0 µM to 100 µM does not induce CYP 1A2, 2C19, or 3A4/5.


1.1 Myelodysplastic Syndromes (MDS)
VIDAZA® is indicated for treatment of patients with the following French-American-British (FAB) myelodysplastic syndrome subtypes: refractory anemia (RA) or refractory anemia with ringed sideroblasts (if accompanied by neutropenia or thrombocytopenia or requiring transfusions), refractory anemia with excess blasts (RAEB), refractory anemia with excess blasts in transformation (RAEB-T), and chronic myelomonocytic leukemia (CMMoL).


2.1 First Treatment Cycle
The recommended starting dose for the first treatment cycle, for all patients regardless of baseline hematology laboratory values, is 75 mg/m2 subcutaneously or intravenously, daily for 7 days. Patients should be premedicated for nausea and vomiting.

2.2 Subsequent Treatment Cycles
Cycles should be repeated every 4 weeks. The dose may be increased to 100 mg/m2 if no beneficial effect is seen after 2 treatment cycles and if no toxicity other than nausea and vomiting has occurred. It is recommended that patients be treated for a minimum of 4 to 6 cycles. However, complete or partial response may require additional treatment cycles. Treatment may be continued as long as the patient continues to benefit.

Patients should be monitored for hematologic response and renal toxicities [see Warnings and Precautions (5.3) PACKAGE INSERT ], and dosage delay or reduction as described below may be necessary.

2.3 Dosage Adjustment Based on Hematology Laboratory Values

For patients with baseline (start of treatment) WBC ≥3.0 x109/L, ANC ≥1.5 x109/L, and platelets ≥75.0 x109/L, adjust the dose as follows, based on nadir counts for any given cycle:

Nadir Counts % Dose in the Next Course
ANC (x109/L)
0.5 –1.5
Platelets (x109/L)

For patients whose baseline counts are WBC <3.0 x109/L, ANC<1.5 x109/L, or platelets <75.0 x109/L, dose adjustments should be based on nadir counts and bone marrow biopsy cellularity at the time of the nadir as noted below, unless there is clear improvement in differentiation (percentage of mature granulocytes is higher and ANC is higher than at onset of that course) at the time of the next cycle, in which case the dose of the current treatment should be continued.

WBC or Platelet Nadir
% decrease in counts
from baseline
Bone Marrow
Biopsy Cellularity at Time of Nadir (%)
30-60 15-30 <15
  % Dose in the Next Course
50 - 75 100 50 33
>75 75 50 33

If a nadir as defined in the table above has occurred, the next course of treatment should be given 28 days after the start of the preceding course, provided that both the WBC and the platelet counts are >25% above the nadir and rising. If a >25% increase above the nadir is not seen by day 28, counts should be reassessed every 7 days. If a 25% increase is not seen by day 42, then the patient should be treated with 50% of the scheduled dose.

2.4 Dosage Adjustment Based on Renal Function and Serum Electrolytes
If unexplained reductions in serum bicarbonate levels to <20 mEq/L occur, the dosage should be reduced by 50% on the next course. Similarly, if unexplained elevations of BUN or serum creatinine occur, the next cycle should be delayed until values return to normal or baseline and the dose should be reduced by 50% on the next treatment course [see Warnings and Precautions (5.3) PACKAGE INSERT ].

2.5 Use in Geriatric Patients
Azacitidine and its metabolites are known to be substantially excreted by the kidney, and the risk of toxic reactions to this drug may be greater in patients with impaired renal function. Because elderly patients are more likely to have decreased renal function, care should be taken in dose selection, and it may be useful to monitor renal function [see Warnings and Precautions (5.3) and Use in Specific Populations (8.5) - PACKAGE INSERT].

2.6 Preparation of VIDAZA
VIDAZA is a cytotoxic drug and, as with other potentially toxic compounds, caution should be exercised when handling and preparing VIDAZA suspensions [see How Supplied/Storage and Handling].

If reconstituted VIDAZA comes into contact with the skin, immediately and thoroughly wash with soap and water. If it comes into contact with mucous membranes, flush thoroughly with water.

The VIDAZA vial is single-use and does not contain any preservatives. Unused portions of each vial should be discarded properly [see How Supplied/Storage and Handling]. Do not save any unused portions for later administration.

2.7 Instructions for Subcutaneous Administration
VIDAZA should be reconstituted aseptically with 4 mL sterile water for injection. The diluent should be injected slowly into the vial. Vigorously shake or roll the vial until a uniform suspension is achieved. The suspension will be cloudy. The resulting suspension will contain azacitidine 25 mg/mL.

Preparation for Immediate Subcutaneous Administration: Doses greater than 4 mL should be divided equally into 2 syringes. The product may be held at room temperature for up to 1 hour, but must be administered within 1 hour after reconstitution.

Preparation for Delayed Subcutaneous Administration: The reconstituted product may be kept in the vial or drawn into a syringe. Doses greater than 4 mL should be divided equally into 2 syringes. The product must be refrigerated immediately, and may be held under refrigerated conditions (2ºC - 8ºC, 36ºF - 46ºF) for up to 8 hours. After removal from refrigerated conditions, the suspension may be allowed to equilibrate to room temperature for up to 30 minutes prior to administration.

    Subcutaneous Administration
To provide a homogeneous suspension, the contents of the dosing syringe must be re-suspended immediately prior to administration. To re-suspend, vigorously roll the syringe between the palms until a uniform, cloudy suspension is achieved.

VIDAZA suspension is administered subcutaneously. Doses greater than 4 mL should be divided equally into 2 syringes and injected into 2 separate sites. Rotate sites for each injection (thigh, abdomen, or upper arm). New injections should be given at least one inch from an old site and never into areas where the site is tender, bruised, red, or hard.

    Suspension Stability: VIDAZA reconstituted for subcutaneous administration may be stored for up to 1 hour at 25°C (77°F) or for up to 8 hours between 2°C and 8°C (36°F and 46°F).

2.8 Instructions for Intravenous Administration
Reconstitute the appropriate number of VIDAZA vials to achieve the desired dose. Reconstitute each vial with 10 mL sterile water for injection. Vigorously shake or roll the vial until all solids are dissolved. The resulting solution will contain azacitidine 10 mg/mL. The solution should be clear. Parenteral drug product should be inspected visually for particulate matter and discoloration prior to administration, whenever solution and container permit.

Withdraw the required amount of VIDAZA solution to deliver the desired dose and inject into a 50 -100 mL infusion bag of either 0.9% Sodium Chloride Injection or Lactated Ringer's Injection.

Intravenous Solution Incompatibility
VIDAZA is incompatible with 5% Dextrose solutions, Hespan, or solutions that contain bicarbonate. These solutions have the potential to increase the rate of degradation of VIDAZA and should therefore be avoided.

Intravenous Administration
VIDAZA solution is administered intravenously. Administer the total dose over a period of 10 - 40 minutes. The administration must be completed within 1 hour of reconstitution of the VIDAZA vial.

Solution Stability: VIDAZA reconstituted for intravenous administration may be stored at 25°C (77°F), but administration must be completed within 1 hour of reconstitution.

VIDAZA (azacitidine for injection) is supplied as lyophilized powder in 100 mg single-use vials.


4.1 Advanced Malignant Hepatic Tumors
VIDAZA is contraindicated in patients with advanced malignant hepatic tumors [see Warnings and Precautions (5.2)].

4.2 Hypersensitivity to Azacitidine or Mannitol
VIDAZA is contraindicated in patients with a known hypersensitivity to azacitidine or mannitol.

How Supplied
VIDAZA (azacitidine for injection) is supplied as a lyophilized powder in 100 mg single-use vials packaged in cartons of 1 vial (NDC 59572-102-01).

Store unreconstituted vials at 25º C (77º F); excursions permitted to 15º-30º C (59º-86º F) (See USP Controlled Room Temperature).

Handling and Disposal
Procedures for proper handling and disposal of anticancer drugs should be applied. Several guidelines on this subject have been published.1-4 There is no general agreement that all of the procedures recommended in the guidelines are necessary or appropriate.

[PACKAGE INSERT DATA] :  Celgene Corporation. Summit, NJ 07901. VIDAZA (azacitidine) injection Package insert. 09/2008.


1] Preventing Occupational Exposures to Antineoplastic and Other Hazardous Drugs in Health Care Settings. NIOSH Alert 2004-165.

2] OSHA Technical Manual, TED 1-0.15A, Section VI: Chapter 2. Controlling Occupational Exposure to Hazardous Drugs. OSHA, 1999.

3] American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. ASHP guidelines on handling hazardous drugs. Am J Health-Syst Pharm. (2006) 63:1172-1193.

4] Polovich, M., White, J. M., & Kelleher, L.O. (eds.) 2005. Chemotherapy and biotherapy guidelines and recommendations for practice (2nd. ed.) Pittsburgh, PA: Oncology Nursing Society.

Azacitidine – Vidaza®