Megace® (megestrol acetate) is prescribed to cause weight gain in people with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). It is also approved to help relieve symptoms of breast cancer or endometrial cancer (cancer of the lining of the uterus).
It is not exactly known how Megace works. However, it is a synthetic form of the hormone progesterone and belongs to a class of drugs called progestins. It is known that it decreases the amount of estrogen produced by the body. Estrogen stimulates some types of cancer cells to grow.
Although Megace cannot cure these types of cancers, it may help relieve some of the symptoms associated with breast cancer or endometrial cancer. The drug has also been shown to help stimulate appetite and cause weight gain in people with AIDS. It is not known how Megace produces these effects.
(For more details on how this medicine works, click Megace. This resource takes a closer look at what this prescription drug is used for, potential side effects, and dosing instructions.)
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Megestrol Acetate. Drug Facts and Comparisons. Drug Facts and Comparisons 4.0 [online]. 2012. Available from Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc. Accessed April 20, 2012.
Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Electronic orange book: approved drug products with therapeutic equivalence evaluations. FDA Web site. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/cder/ob/. Accessed April 19, 2012.
Nilsson S, Nygren KG, Johansson ED. Megestrol acetate concentrations in plasma and milk during administration of an oral contraceptive containing 4 mg megestrol acetate to nursing women. Contraception 1977; 16 (6): 615-624.
National Library of Medicine (US). Hazardous Substances Data Bank (HSDB). NLM Web site. Available at: http://toxnet.nlm.nih.gov/cgi-bin/sis/htmlgen?HSDB. Accessed April 20, 2012.
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