Supportive Care in Cancer

, Volume 21, Issue 6, pp 1655–1663 | Cite as

The use of olanzapine versus metoclopramide for the treatment of breakthrough chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting in patients receiving highly emetogenic chemotherapy

  • Rudolph M. Navari
  • Cindy K. Nagy
  • Sarah E. Gray
Original Article



Olanzapine has been shown to be a safe and effective agent for the prevention of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV). Olanzapine may also be an effective rescue medication for patients who develop breakthrough CINV despite having received guideline-directed CINV prophylaxis.


A double-blind, randomized phase III trial was performed for the treatment of breakthrough CINV in chemotherapy-naive patients receiving highly emetogenic chemotherapy (cisplatin, ≥ 70 mg/m2 or doxorubicin, ≥ 50 mg/m2 and cyclophosphamide, ≥ 600 mg/m2), comparing olanzapine to metoclopramide. Patients who developed breakthrough emesis or nausea despite prophylactic dexamethasone (12 mg IV), palonosetron (0.25 mg IV), and fosaprepitant (150 mg IV) pre-chemotherapy and dexamethasone (8 mg p.o. daily, days 2–4) post-chemotherapy were randomized to receive olanzapine, 10 mg orally daily for 3 days or metoclopramide, 10 mg orally TID for 3 days. Patients were monitored for emesis and nausea for 72 h after taking olanzapine or metoclopramide. Two hundred seventy-six patients (median age 62 years, range 38–79; 43 % women; Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group (ECOG) PS 0,1) consented to the protocol. One hundred twelve patients developed breakthrough CINV and 108 were evaluable.


During the 72-h observation period, 39 out of 56 (70 %) patients receiving olanzapine had no emesis compared to 16 out of 52 (31 %) patients with no emesis for patients receiving metoclopramide (p < 0.01). Patients without nausea (0, scale 0–10, M.D. Anderson Symptom Inventory) during the 72-h observation period were those who took olanzapine, 68 % (38 of 56), and metoclopramide, 23 % (12 of 52) (p < 0.01). There were no grade 3 or 4 toxicities.


Olanzapine was significantly better than metoclopramide in the control of breakthrough emesis and nausea in patients receiving highly emetogenic chemotherapy.


Olanzapine Metoclopramide Chemotherapy Breakthrough nausea and emesis 



This study is supported by the Reich Family Endowment for the Care of the Whole Patient.

Conflict of interest

None of the authors have a financial relationship with the sponsoring organization, and none of the authors have any conflict of interest. The authors have full control of the primary data and allow the journal to review the data if requested.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rudolph M. Navari
    • 1
  • Cindy K. Nagy
    • 1
  • Sarah E. Gray
    • 2
  1. 1.Indiana University School of Medicine South BendSouth BendUSA
  2. 2.University of Notre DameNotre DameUSA

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