Daunorubicin Hydrochloride

DAUNORUBICIN HYDROCHLORIDE- daunorubicin hydrochloride injection
Hikma Pharmaceuticals USA Inc.



  • 1.Daunorubicin Hydrochloride Injection must be given into a rapidly flowing intravenous infusion. It must never be given by the intramuscular or subcutaneous route. Severe local tissue necrosis will occur if there is extravasation during administration.
  • 2.Myocardial toxicity manifested in its most severe form by potentially fatal congestive heart failure may occur either during therapy or months to years after termination of therapy. The incidence of myocardial toxicity increases after a total cumulative dose exceeding 400 to 550 mg/m2 in adults, 300 mg/m2 in children more than 2 years of age, or 10 mg/kg in children less than 2 years of age.
  • 3.Severe myelosuppression occurs when used in therapeutic doses; this may lead to infection or hemorrhage.
  • 4.It is recommended that daunorubicin hydrochloride be administered only by physicians who are experienced in leukemia chemotherapy and in facilities with laboratory and supportive resources adequate to monitor drug tolerance and protect and maintain a patient compromised by drug toxicity. The physician and institution must be capable of responding rapidly and completely to severe hemorrhagic conditions and/or overwhelming infection.
  • 5.Dosage should be reduced in patients with impaired hepatic or renal function.


Daunorubicin hydrochloride is the hydrochloride salt of an anthracycline cytotoxic antibiotic produced by a strain of Streptomyces coeruleorubidus. It is provided as a deep red sterile liquid in vials for intravenous administration only. Each mL contains 5 mg daunorubicin (equivalent to 5.34 mg of daunorubicin hydrochloride), 9 mg sodium chloride; sodium hydroxide and/or hydrochloric acid (to adjust pH), and water for injection, q.s. It has the following structural formula which may be described with the chemical name of (1S ,3S)-3-Acetyl-1,2,3,4,6,11-hexahydro-3,5,12-trihydroxy-10-methoxy-6,11-dioxo-1-naphthacenyl 3-amino-2,3,6-trideoxy-α-L-lyxo -hexopyranoside hydrochloride. Its molecular formula is C27 H29 NO10 •HCl with a molecular weight of 563.99. It is a hygroscopic crystalline powder. The pH of a 5 mg/mL aqueous solution is 4 to 5.

structural formulastructural formula


Mechanism of Action

Daunorubicin has antimitotic and cytotoxic activity through a number of proposed mechanisms of action. Daunorubicin forms complexes with DNA by intercalation between base pairs. It inhibits topoisomerase II activity by stabilizing the DNA-topoisomerase II complex, preventing the religation portion of the ligation-religation reaction that topoisomerase II catalyzes. Single strand and double strand DNA breaks result.

Daunorubicin hydrochloride may also inhibit polymerase activity, affect regulation of gene expression, and produce free radical damage to DNA.

Daunorubicin hydrochloride possesses an antitumor effect against a wide spectrum of animal tumors, either grafted or spontaneous.



Following intravenous injection of Daunorubicin hydrochloride, plasma levels of daunorubicin decline rapidly, indicating rapid tissue uptake and concentration. Thereafter, plasma levels decline slowly with a half-life of 45 minutes in the initial phase and 18.5 hours in the terminal phase. By 1 hour after drug administration, the predominant plasma species is daunorubicinol, an active metabolite, which disappears with a half-life of 26.7 hours.


Daunorubicin hydrochloride is rapidly and widely distributed in tissues, with highest levels in the spleen, kidneys, liver, lungs, and heart. The drug binds to many cellular components, particularly nucleic acids. There is no evidence that daunorubicin crosses the blood-brain barrier, but the drug apparently crosses the placenta.

Metabolism and Elimination

Daunorubicin hydrochloride is extensively metabolized in the liver and other tissues, mainly by cytoplasmic aldo-keto reductases, producing daunorubicinol, the major metabolite which has antineoplastic activity. Approximately 40% of the drug in the plasma is present as daunorubicinol within 30 minutes and 60% in 4 hours after a dose of daunorubicin. Further metabolism via reduction cleavage of the glycosidic bond, 4-O demethylation, and conjugation with both sulfate and glucuronide have been demonstrated. Simple glycosidic cleavage of daunorubicin or daunorubicinol is not a significant metabolic pathway in man. Twenty-five percent of an administered dose of daunorubicin hydrochloride is eliminated in an active form by urinary excretion and an estimated 40% by biliary excretion.

Special Populations

Pediatric Patients

Although appropriate studies with daunorubicin hydrochloride have not been performed in the pediatric population, cardiotoxicity may be more frequent and occur at lower cumulative doses in children.

Geriatric Patients

Although appropriate studies with daunorubicin hydrochloride have not been performed in the geriatric population, cardiotoxicity may be more frequent in the elderly. Caution should also be used in patients who have inadequate bone marrow reserves due to old age. In addition, elderly patients are more likely to have age-related renal function impairment, which may require reduction of dosage in patients receiving daunorubicin hydrochloride.

Renal and Hepatic Impairment

Doses of daunorubicin hydrochloride should be reduced in patients with hepatic and renal impairment. Patients with serum bilirubin concentrations of 1.2 to 3 mg/dL should receive 75% of the usual daily dose and patients with serum bilirubin concentrations greater than 3 mg/dL should receive 50% of the usual daily dose. Patients with serum creatinine concentrations of greater than 3 mg/dL should receive 50% of the usual daily dose. (See WARNINGS, Evaluation of Hepatic and Renal Function).

Clinical Studies

In the treatment of adult acute nonlymphocytic leukemia, daunorubicin hydrochloride, used as a single agent, has produced complete remission rates of 40 to 50%, and in combination with cytarabine, has produced complete remission rates of 53 to 65%.

The addition of daunorubicin hydrochloride to the two-drug induction regimen of vincristine-prednisone in the treatment of childhood acute lymphocytic leukemia does not increase the rate of complete remission. In children receiving identical CNS prophylaxis and maintenance therapy (without consolidation), there is prolongation of complete remission duration (statistically significant, p<0.02) in those children induced with the three drug (daunorubicin-vincristine-prednisone) regimen as compared to two drugs. There is no evidence of any impact of daunorubicin hydrochloride on the duration of complete remission when a consolidation (intensification) phase is employed as part of a total treatment program.

In adult acute lymphocytic leukemia, in contrast to childhood acute lymphocytic leukemia, daunorubicin hydrochloride during induction significantly increases the rate of complete remission, but not remission duration, compared to that obtained with vincristine, prednisone, and L-asparaginase alone. The use of daunorubicin hydrochloride in combination with vincristine, prednisone, and L-asparaginase has produced complete remission rates of 83% in contrast to a 47% remission in patients not receiving daunorubicin hydrochloride.


Daunorubicin hydrochloride in combination with other approved anticancer drugs is indicated for remission induction in acute nonlymphocytic leukemia (myelogenous, monocytic, erythroid) of adults and for remission induction in acute lymphocytic leukemia of children and adults.


Daunorubicin hydrochloride is contraindicated in patients who have shown a hypersensitivity to it.

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