Serotonin Antagonists (5-HT3 Receptor Antagonists)

Examples

Generic Name Brand Name
dolasetron Anzemet
granisetron Sancuso
ondansetron Zofran
palonosetron Aloxi

Serotonin antagonists may be given as a pill, as a patch, or as a shot.

How It Works

Serotonin antagonists work by blocking the effects of a chemical called serotonin, which is produced in the brain and the stomach.

Why It Is Used

Serotonin antagonists prevent and relieve nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy. They also are used before surgery to prevent nausea and vomiting caused by anesthesia. Serotonin antagonists also decrease episodes of bulimia in people with bulimia nervosa.

How Well It Works

Serotonin antagonists prevent and relieve nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy and anesthesia.

Side Effects

Although serotonin antagonists cause fewer side effects than other antinausea medicines (antiemetics), side effects can include:

  • Diarrhea or constipation.
  • Dizziness and headache.
  • Fatigue and sleepiness.
  • Muscle cramps.
  • Nervousness.

Side effects from serotonin antagonist patches may also include reactions on the skin, such as redness, rash, or blisters, where the patch is placed.

See Drug Reference for a full list of side effects. (Drug Reference is not available in all systems.)

What To Think About

Serotonin antagonists are often used with other medicines, such as dexamethasone and aprepitant (Emend), to prevent and control nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy.

These medicines should not be used by children who weigh less than 20 lb (9 kg) or are younger than age 3.

It is not known whether serotonin antagonists pass into breast milk. If you are breast-feeding, do not take these medicines without first talking to your doctor.

Although serotonin antagonists may be safe for use during pregnancy, do not take these medicines until you have discussed your pregnancy with your doctor.

Complete the new medication information form (PDF)new medication information form (PDF)(What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.

Credits

By Healthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer Douglas A. Stewart, MD - Medical Oncology
Last Revised August 14, 2013

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

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