Clinically relevant drug interactions between anticancer drugs and psychotropic agents Academic Article uri icon


  • Drug interactions are commonly seen in the treatment of cancer patients. Psychotropics are often indicated for these patients since they may also suffer from pre-existing psychological disorders or experience insomnia and anxiety associated with cancer therapy. Thus, the risk of anticancer drug (ACD)-psychotropic drug-drug interactions (DDIs) is high. Drug interactions were compiled from the British National Formulary (53rd edn), Lexi-Comp's Drug Information Handbook (15th edn), Micromedex (v5.1), Hansten & Horn's Drug Interactions (2000) and Drug Interaction Facts (2008 edn). Product information of the individual drugs, as well as documented literature on ACD-psychotropic interactions from PubMed and other databases was also incorporated. This paper identifies clinically important ACD-psychotropic DDIs that are frequently observed. Pharmacokinetic DDIs were observed for tyrosine kinase inhibitors, corticosteroids and antimicrotubule agents due to their inhibitory or inductive effects on cytochrome P450 isoenzymes. Pharmacodynamic DDIs were identified for thalidomide with central nervous system depressants, procarbazine with antidepressants, myelosuppressive ACDs with clozapine and anthracyclines with QT-prolonging psychotropics. Clinicians should be vigilant when psychotropics are prescribed concurrently with ACDs. Close monitoring of plasma drug levels should be carried out to avoid toxicity in the patient, as well as to ensure adequate chemotherapeutic and psychotropic coverage.

publication date

  • January 2011