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Palonosetron is used for preventing nausea and vomiting that is caused by chemotherapy or surgery. When used before chemotherapy, the injectable medication is long-acting, which means that the effects from a single dose can last for several days. The capsule form of the drug is used to prevent acute chemo-related nausea and vomiting. Occasionally, healthcare providers may recommend the medication for "off-label" purposes. Using the drug to prevent nausea or vomiting due to other causes is considered an off-label use.

What Is Palonosetron Used For? -- An Overview

Palonosetron hydrochloride (Aloxi®) is a prescription medication approved for the prevention of nausea and vomiting due to surgery or chemotherapy. The IV (intravenous) form of palonosetron is a long-acting medication that can prevent nausea and vomiting for several days with just a single dose. When given by IV just before surgery, a single dose helps prevent nausea and vomiting for up to 24 hours after surgery.
 
Although palonosetron was initially available only in injectable form, it is now available in capsule form as well. Palonosetron capsules are approved only for preventing acute nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy; they are not approved for use before surgery.
 

Why Is Palonosetron Used for Chemotherapy-Related Nausea and Vomiting?

Nausea and vomiting are some of the most common and debilitating side effects of chemotherapy. Some types of chemotherapy are more likely to cause this than others. In addition, nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy are likely due to many causes.
 
The main symptoms of nausea are feeling sick to your stomach and feeling like you might vomit, (as opposed to vomiting, which is actually "throwing up"). In general, palonosetron (as well as most nausea and vomiting medications) is better at preventing vomiting than preventing nausea. It is much easier to prevent nausea and vomiting than to treat it once it starts. Palonosetron is licensed to prevent nausea and vomiting, but it is not a treatment for it.
 
Palonosetron injection is unique in that it is approved to prevent nausea and vomiting both in the "acute phase" (the first 24 hours after chemotherapy) and the "delayed phase" (after 24 hours) with just a single dose. It is given by IV about 30 minutes before the start of chemotherapy. It is not clear if the capsule form of palonosetron lasts equally as long (currently, it is approved only to prevent acute phase nausea). The capsule form is taken about one hour before the start of chemotherapy.
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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