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What Is Rasburicase Used For?

If you have leukemia, lymphoma, or cancerous solid tumors, you may need a medication called rasburicase. This medicine is used to help control uric acid levels, which may become high in people who are undergoing chemotherapy treatment for these specific forms of cancer. It is approved for use in adults and children. Rasburicase can also be used to treat gout, although this is an unapproved ("off-label") use.

An Overview of Uses for Rasburicase

Rasburicase (Elitek®) is a prescription medication approved to manage uric acid levels in people at risk for tumor lysis syndrome and high uric acid levels due to certain cancer treatments. It is given as a slow injection into a vein (an intravenous, or IV, infusion).
Some cancer treatment can cause a condition known as tumor lysis syndrome. This condition occurs when cancer cells are rapidly destroyed and release their contents into the body. This can cause a variety of metabolic and electrolyte problems, including high levels of potassium, phosphate, and uric acid. These problems can, in turn, cause serious complications, such as kidney failure, seizures, and death. 
Certain things may increase the risk for tumor lysis syndrome. For example, people who have certain types of lymphoma, leukemia, or cancer that affects the bone marrow or kidneys may be more likely to develop tumor lysis syndrome. An increase in white blood cells, high uric acid levels, and kidney disease may also increase the risk.
In addition, certain types of chemotherapy used to treat lymphoma and leukemia have been associated with the development of tumor lysis syndrome and high uric acid levels.
If people are at risk for tumor lysis syndrome, a healthcare provider may choose to start certain treatments before chemotherapy to help prevent tumor lysis syndrome from occurring. Such preventive treatments may include:
  • Intravenous (IV) fluids to ensure a person remains adequately hydrated
  • Treatments to reduce uric acid, especially if uric acid levels are high
  • Frequent monitoring of electrolytes, such as phosphate, calcium, and potassium.
Rasburicase is approved for the initial management of uric acid levels in people receiving cancer treatment that may cause tumor lysis syndrome and subsequent high uric acid levels. Specifically, rasburicase is approved for use in people with leukemia, lymphoma, or cancerous solid tumors. It is only recommended as a single course of treatment, which may include up to five doses, given once a day over five days.
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