letrozole, Femara

  • Pharmacy Author:
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

  • Medical and Pharmacy Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

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What is letrozole, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

Letrozole is an oral, anti-estrogen drug that is used for treating postmenopausal women with breast cancer. The growth of some breast cancers in postmenopausal women is promoted by estrogens that circulate in the blood, and the adrenal glands are the main source of these circulating estrogens. Letrozole inhibits the enzyme in the adrenal glands (aromatase) that produces the estrogens, estradiol and estrone. Letrozole was approved by the FDA in 1997.

What brand names are available for letrozole?

Femara

Is letrozole available as a generic drug?

GENERIC AVAILABLE: Yes

Do I need a prescription for letrozole?

Yes

What are the side effects of letrozole?

The most common side effects with letrozole are:

Cholesterol levels may increase during letrozole therapy. Cholesterol levels should be monitored and some patients may require treatment for high cholesterol levels. Letrozole decreases bone mineral density, increasing the risk of osteoporosis and fractures.

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Breast Cancer Diagnosis and Treatment

What is the dosage for letrozole?

The recommended dose is 2.5 mg once daily with or without food. Patients with severe liver impairment should receive 2.5 mg every other day.

Which drugs or supplements interact with letrozole?

Tamoxifen reduces blood levels of letrozole when both drugs are administered together. However, in clinical studies the benefit of letrozole was not reduced when administered immediately after tamoxifen. Letrozole is an anti-estrogen drug. Therefore, estrogen containing products counteract the effect of letrozole.

Is letrozole safe to take if I'm pregnant or breastfeeding?

Letrozole damages the fetus. It should not be taken by pregnant women.

It is not known if letrozole is secreted into breast milk.

What else should I know about letrozole?

What preparations of letrozole are available?

Tablets: 2.5mg.

How should I keep letrozole stored?

Tablets should be stored at room temperature, 15 C - 30 C (59 F - 86 F).

Reference: FDA Prescribing Information

Last Editorial Review: 9/14/2015

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See more info: letrozole on RxList
Reviewed on 9/14/2015
References
Reference: FDA Prescribing Information

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