Cytotoxic drugs are a part of a standard treatment regimen for cancer. While they may not be able to cure a cancer, they can significantly improve symptoms and prolong a patient’s life. However, these drugs can be cancer-causing agents that can cause birth defects in pregnant women and increase the likelihood of fetal sterility. They are often referred to as chemotherapeutic drugs. To use cytotoxic drugs for research, investigators need to obtain a Chemical Carcinogen Memorandum of Understanding and Agreement (CHO). This document ensures that the study is safe and meets all safety requirements.
A cytotoxic drug’s name comes from the fact that it is toxic to cells. Depending on the type of cytotoxic agent, it may result in a variety of cell fates. Some cells undergo necrosis, in which they lose membrane integrity, or activate their genetic program for controlled cell death. Some of the side effects of cytotoxic drugs include a decrease in fertility in women and men. Some of these effects may be permanent.
The health effects of cytotoxic drugs can be minimized by following best practices. The employers are required to get a special license before handling cytotoxic drugs, notify the appropriate authorities, and demonstrate controls to protect employees and patients from exposure. A cytotoxic drug should be handled in a way that minimizes exposure to the drug. It should also be packaged in a manner that prevents its release into the air. This is especially important if the work involves a lot of cytotoxic drugs. Inappropriate handling of cytotoxic drugs can develop an infection that will spread to others. Hence, disposing any waste of cytotoxic drug in the workplace is important. Although there are side effects of cytotoxic drugs, these are typically temporary and rarely life-threatening. In some cases, patients may even be able to recover from these side effects. In some cases, cytotoxic drugs may cause serious liver and kidney damage, however, this is rare. These side effects are usually treatable with other treatments and lifestyle changes. In June 2020, the U.S. FDA granted approval to lurbinectedin (ZEPZELCA, Pharma Mar S.A.), for the treatment of metastatic small cell lung cancer (SCLC).
According to Coherent Market Insights, the cytotoxic drugs market size is expected to grow significantly during the forecast timeframe, owing to increasing incidences of cancer worldwide. According to World Health Organization’s (WHO) 2018 report, around 9.6 million deaths were recorded due to cancer and around 18.1 million new cases of cancer were diagnosed in 2018 worldwide. The major restraining factor for the cytotoxic drugs market growth is adverse side effects shown by consumption of cytotoxic drugs such as nausea and vomiting, severe diarrhea, and damage to bone marrow. Cytotoxic drugs can be toxic to other organ systems and lead to conditions such as gastrointestinal toxicity, neurotoxicity renal toxicity, and cardiovascular toxicity.