Leading the way to safer medication
 Crosscheck  Recommender


Also known as: Busulphan


Active ingredient Busulfan interacts in the following cases:

Hepatic impairment

Busulfan has not been studied in patients with hepatic impairment. Since busulfan is mainly metabolized through the liver, caution should be observed when busulfan is used in patients with pre-existing impairment of liver function, especially in those with severe hepatic impairment. It is recommended when treating these patients that serum transaminase, alkaline phosphatase, and bilirubin should be monitored regularly 28 days following transplant for early detection of hepatotoxicity.

Hepatic veno-occlusive disease is a major complication that can occur during treatment with busulfan. Patients who have received prior radiation therapy, greater than or equal to three cycles of chemotherapy, or prior progenitor cell transplant may be at an increased risk. Caution should be exercised when using paracetamol prior to (less than 72 hours) or concurrently with busulfan due to a possible decrease in the metabolism of busulfan


Busulfan can impair fertility. Therefore, men treated with busulfan are advised not to father a child during and up to 6 months after treatment and to seek advice on cryo-conservation of sperm prior to treatment because of the possibility of irreversible infertility due to therapy with busulfan. Ovarian suppression and amenorrhoea with menopausal symptoms commonly occur in pre-menopausal patients. Busulfan treatment in a pre-adolescent girl prevented the onset of puberty due to ovarian failure. Impotence, sterility, azoospermia, and testicular atrophy have been reported in male patients. The solvent dimethylacetamide (DMA) may also impair fertility. DMA decreases fertility in male and female rodents.


It is unknown whether busulfan and DMA are excreted in human milk. Because of the potential for tumorigenicity shown for busulfan in human and animal studies, breast-feeding should be discontinued during treatment with busulfan.


In adults, for the BuCy2 regimen it has been reported that the time interval between the last oral busulfan administration and the first cyclophosphamide administration may influence the development of toxicities. A reduced incidence of Hepatic Veno Occlusive Disease (HVOD) and other regimenrelated toxicity have been observed in patients when the lag time between the last dose of oral busulfan and the first dose of cyclophosphamide is >24hours. There is no common metabolism pathway between busulfan and fludarabine. In adults, for the FB regimen, published studies did not report any mutual drug-drug interaction between intravenous busulfan and fludarabine.

Itraconazole, metronidazole

No specific clinical trial was carried out to assess drug-drug interaction between intravenous busulfan and itraconazole or metronidazole. From published studies in adults, administration of itraconazole to patients receiving high-dose busulfan may result in reduced busulfan clearance. Also, there are published case reports of increased plasma levels of busulfan after administration of metronidazole.

Patients who are concurrently treated with busulfan and itraconazole or metronidazole should be closely monitored for signs of busulfan toxicity.


Published studies in adults described that ketobemidone (analgesic) might be associated with high levels of plasma busulfan. Therefore special care is recommended when combining these two compounds.


In paediatric population, for the BuMel regimen it has been reported that the administration of melphalan less than 24 hours after the last oral busulfan administration may influence the development of toxicities.


Paracetamol is described to decrease glutathione levels in blood and tissues, and may therefore decrease busulfan clearance when used in combination.


Either phenytoin or benzodiazepines were administered for seizure prophylaxis in patients participating to the clinical trials conducted with intravenous busulfan. The concomitant systemic administration of phenytoin to patients receiving high-dose of oral busulfan has been reported to increase busulfan clearance, due to induction of glutathion-S-transferase whereas no interaction has been reported when benzodiazepines such as diazepam, clonazepam or lorazepam have been used to prevent seizures with high-dose busulfan. No evidence of an induction effect of phenytoin has been seen on Busilvex data. A phase II clinical trial was performed to evaluate the influence of seizure prophylaxis treatment on intravenous busulfan pharmacokinetics. In this study, 24 adult patients received clonazepam (0.025-0.03 mg/kg/day as IV continuous infusions) as anticonvulsant therapy and the PK data of these patients were compared to historical data collected in patients treated with phenytoin. The analysis of data through a population pharmacokinetic method indicated no difference on intravenous busulfan clearance between phenytoin and clonazepam based therapy and therefore similar busulfan plasma exposures were achieved whatever the type of seizure prophylaxis.

Carcinogen effect

The increased risk of a second malignancy should be explained to the patient. On the basis of human data, busulfan has been classified by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as a human carcinogen. The World Health Organisation has concluded that there is a causal relationship between busulfan exposure and cancer. Leukaemia patients treated with busulfan developed many different cytological abnormalities, and some developed carcinomas. Busulfan is thought to be leukemogenic.

Interstitial pulmonary fibrosis

Occurrence of acute respiratory distress syndrome with subsequent respiratory failure associated with interstitial pulmonary fibrosis was reported in Busilvex studies in one patient who died, although, no clear aetiology was identified. In addition, busulfan might induce pulmonary toxicity that may be additive to the effects produced by other cytotoxic agents. Therefore, attention should be paid to this pulmonary issue in patients with prior history of mediastinal or pulmonary radiation.

Fanconi anaemia

The Fanconi anaemia cells have hypersensitivity to cross-linking agents. There is limited clinical experience of the use of busulfan as a component of a conditioning regimen prior to HSCT in children with Fanconi’s anaemia. Therefore busulfan should be used with caution in this type of patients.

Granulocytopenia, thrombocytopenia, anaemia

The consequence of treatment with busulfan at the recommended dose and schedule is profound myelosuppression, occurring in all patients. Severe granulocytopenia, thrombocytopenia, anaemia, or any combination thereof may develop. Frequent complete blood counts, including differential white blood cell counts, and platelet counts should be monitored during the treatment and until recovery is achieved.

Prophylactic or empiric use of anti-infectives (bacterial, fungal, viral) should be considered for the prevention and management of infections during the neutropenic period. Platelet and red blood cell support, as well as the use of growth factors such as granulocyte colony stimulating agent (G-CSF), should be employed as medically indicated.

In adults, absolute neutrophil counts <0.5x109/l at a median of 4 days post transplant occurred in 100% of patients and recovered at median day 10 and 13 days following autologous and allogeneic transplant respectively (median neutropenic period of 6 and 9 days respectively). Thrombocytopenia (<25x109/l or requiring platelet transfusion) occurred at a median of 5-6 days in 98% of patients. Anaemia (haemoglobin< 8.0 g/dl) occurred in 69% of patients.

In paediatric population, absolute neutrophil counts <0.5x109/l at a median of 3 days post transplant occurred in 100% of patients and lasted 5 and 18.5 days in autologous and allogeneic transplant respectively. In children, thrombocytopenia (<25x109/l or requiring platelet transfusion) occurred in 100% of patients. Anaemia (haemoglobin <8.0 g/dl) occurred in 100% of patients.

In children <9 kg, a therapeutic drug monitoring may be justified on a case by case basis, in particular in extremely young children and neonates.


Seizures have been reported with high dose busulfan treatment. Special caution should be exercised when administering the recommended dose of busulfan to patients with a history of seizures. Patients should receive adequate anticonvulsant prophylaxis. In adults and children studies, data with busulfan were obtained when using concomitant administration of either phenytoin or benzodiazepines for seizure prophylaxis. The effect of those anticonvulsant agents on busulfan pharmacokinetics was investigated in a phase II study.


Intravenous infusion

HPCT is contraindicated in pregnant women; therefore, busulfan is contraindicated during pregnancy. Studies in animals have shown reproductive toxicity (embryo-fetal lethality and malformations).

There are no or limited amount of data from the use of busulfan or DMA in pregnant women. A few cases of congenital abnormalities have been reported with low-dose oral busulfan, not necessarily attributable to the active substance, and third trimester exposure may be associated with impaired intrauterine growth.

Oral administration

As with all cytotoxic chemotherapy, adequate contraceptive precautions should be advised when either partner is receiving busulfan.

The use of busulfan should be avoided during pregnancy whenever possible. In animal studies it has the potential for teratogenic effects, whilst exposure during the latter half of pregnancy resulted in impairment of fertility in offspring. In every individual case the expected benefit of treatment to the mother must be weighed against the possible risk to the foetus.

A few cases of congenital abnormalities, not necessarily attributable to busulfan, have been reported and third trimester exposure may be associated with impaired intra-uterine growth. However, there have also been many reported cases of apparently normal children born after exposure to busulfan in utero, even during the first trimester.

Nursing Mothers

It is unknown whether busulfan and DMA are excreted in human milk. Because of the potential for tumorigenicity shown for busulfan in human and animal studies, breast-feeding should be discontinued during treatment with busulfan.

Carcinogenesis, Mutagenesis and Fertility

Women of childbearing potential

Women of childbearing potential have to use effective contraception during and up to 6 months after treatment.


Busulfan and DMA can impair fertility in man or woman. Therefore it is advised not to father child during the treatment and up to 6 months after treatment and to seek advice on cryo-conservation of sperm prior to treatment because of the possibility of irreversible infertility.

Busulfan can lead to suppression of ovarian function and amenorrhoea in women and suppression of spermatogenesis in men.

Effects on Ability to Drive and Use Machines

There are no data on the effect of busulfan on driving performance or the ability to operate machinery. A detrimental effect on these activities cannot be predicted from the pharmacology of the drug.