My watch list  


Systematic (IUPAC) name
10-(4-amino-5-hydroxy-6-methyl-oxan-2-yl) oxy-6,8,11-trihydroxy-8-(2-hydroxyacetyl)- 1-methoxy-9,10-dihydro-7H-tetracene-5,12-dione
CAS number 56420-45-2
ATC code L01DB03
PubChem 41867
DrugBank APRD00361
Chemical data
Formula C27H29NO11 
Mol. mass 543.519 g/mol
Pharmacokinetic data
Bioavailability NA
Protein binding 77%
Metabolism Hepatic glucuronidation and oxidation
Half life  ?
Excretion Biliary and renal
Therapeutic considerations
Pregnancy cat.

D (Au, U.S.)

Legal status

℞-only (U.S.), POM (UK)

Routes Intravenous

Epirubicin is an anthracycline drug used for chemotherapy. It is marketed by Pfizer under the trade name Ellence in the US and Pharmorubicin or Epirubicin "Ebewe" elsewhere.

Similarly to other anthracyclines, epirubicin acts by intercalating DNA strands. Intercalation results in complex formation which inhibits DNA and RNA synthesis. It also triggers DNA cleavage by topoisomerase II, resulting in mechanisms that lead to cell death. Binding to cell membranes and plasma proteins may be involved in the compound's cytotoxic effects. Epirubicin also generates free radicals that cause cell and DNA damage.

Epirubicin is favoured over doxorubicin, the most popular anthracycline, in some chemotherapy regimens as it appears to cause fewer side-effects. Epirubicin has a different spatial orientation of the hydroxyl group at the 4' carbon of the sugar, which may account for its faster elimination and reduced toxicity. Epirubicin is primarily used against breast and ovarian cancer, gastric cancer, lung cancer, and lymphomas.

Development history

The first trial of epirubicin in humans was published in 1980.[1] Upjohn applied for FDA approval in node-positive breast cancer in 1984, but was turned down because of lack of data.[2] It appears to have been licensed for use in Europe from around this time however.[3] In 1999 Pharmacia (who had by then merged with Upjohn) received FDA approval for the use of epirubicin as a component of adjuvant therapy in node-positive patients.

Patent protection for epirubicin expired in August 2007.


  1. ^ Bonfante, V (1980). "Preliminary clinical experience with 4-epidoxorubicin in advanced human neoplasia". Recent results in cancer research 74: 192–9. PM6934564.
  2. ^ On Target.
  3. ^ According to the proprietary database
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Epirubicin". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
Your browser is not current. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 does not support some functions on Chemie.DE