Megace is a medication prescribed for specific uses in people with AIDS, breast cancer, or endometrial cancer. This hormone therapy can affect the growth of certain cancer cells, stimulate appetite, and cause weight gain. It comes as an oral suspension that is taken once daily and as tablets that are taken several times daily. Side effects include diarrhea, a rash, and gas.
What Is Megace?
Megace® (megestrol acetate) is a prescription medication that belongs to a class of drugs known as progestins. Megace oral suspension is approved to treat appetite loss, muscle wasting, and significant weight loss in people with acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). Megace tablets are approved to relieve the symptoms of advanced breast and endometrial cancer (cancer of the lining of the uterus).
Brand-name Megace tablets have been discontinued by the manufacturer and are no longer available in the United States. However, generic versions are still available.
Megace is also available in an extra-strength form: Megace® ES (megestrol ES). Extra-strength Megace comes as a liquid suspension. It contains more of the active ingredient (megestrol acetate) per mL than regular Megace.
Megace is made by Bristol-Myers Squibb Company. As noted, brand-name Megace tablets are no longer manufactured. Generic versions of the oral suspension and the tablets are made by several manufacturers.
How Does Megace Work?
Megace is a type of hormone therapy. It is a progestin, or a synthetic form of the hormone progesterone. The exact way it works is unknown. What is known is that Megace decreases the amount of estrogen made by the body. This is important, because estrogen stimulates some cancer cells to grow. Megace may also have direct effects on cancer cells.
In clinical studies, Megace was shown to stimulate appetite and cause weight gain. It is not known how the medication produces these effects. However, it can be used to treat weight loss because of these side effects.
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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