• Pharmacy Author:
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    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.

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

Megestrol is a synthetic female hormone belonging to the progesterone group. It is used for stimulating appetite and treating breast cancer. Progesterone is a hormone produced by the body, especially in women, that helps control the menstrual period as well as other body functions. How megestrol stimulates appetite or suppresses cancer is not understood. The FDA approved megestrol in September 1993.

What brand names are available for megestrol?

Megace, Megace ES, Megace Oral

Is megestrol available as a generic drug?


Do I need a prescription for megestrol?


What are the side effects of megestrol?

The most common side effects are:

Blood clots in legs and lungs may occur.

Megestrol may worsen existing diabetes or lead to new onset diabetes.

What is the dosage for megestrol?

The recommended dose for stimulating appetite is 800 mg per day of the regular megestrol suspension (40 mg/ml) or 625 mg per day of the ES formulation (125 mg/ml). Breast cancer is treated with 40 mg four times daily.

Which drugs or supplements interact with megestrol?

Indinavir (Crixivan) reduces blood concentrations of megestrol. An increase in the dose of megestrol should be considered.

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

Megestrol may cause birth defects and should not be administered to pregnant women. Women should use contraception while taking megestrol.

Megestrol should not be used while breastfeeding due to potential adverse effects in the infant.

What else should I know about megestrol?

What preparations of megestrol are available?

Tablets: 20 and 40 mg. Oral suspension: 40 mg/mL or 125 mg/mL.

How should I keep megestrol stored?

Megestrol should be stored in a dry place at room temperature, 15 C-25 C (59 F-77 F).


Megestrol (Megace, Megace ES) is a drug prescribed for stimulating the appetite in patients with AIDS who have poor appetite or an unexplained significant weight loss. This medication is also used for treating breast cancer and weight loss associated with cancer. Side effects, drug interactions, and pregnancy safety should be reviewed prior to taking this medication.

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You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

See more info: megestrol on RxList
Reference: FDA Prescribing Information