Multiple Sclerosis Home > Novantrone

If you have multiple sclerosis, advanced prostate cancer, or acute nonlymphocytic leukemia, your healthcare provider may prescribe Novantrone. This medication comes as a liquid that is injected into a vein (intravenously, or by IV). It works by damaging DNA, preventing certain cells from dividing and multiplying. Side effects include fever, nausea, and hair loss.


What Is Novantrone?

Novantrone® (mitoxantrone) is a prescription medication that belongs to a general group of drugs known as antineoplastics. It is approved to treat people with:
Novantrone is used in combination with other medicines in the treatment of advanced prostate cancer and ANLL. When used to treat MS, it can help reduce symptoms and the number of MS relapses. Relapses are periods of time when symptoms are worse.
(Click Novantrone Uses for more information on this topic, including possible off-label uses.)

Who Makes This Medication?

Novantrone used to be made by EMD Serono. However, the company stopped making the medicine, and brand-name Novantrone is no longer available. Generic versions are available and are made by several different manufacturers.

How Does Novantrone Work?

Novantrone works by damaging DNA. It does this by causing DNA strands to "cross-link" and to break. Cross-linking occurs when the strands bind to each other and become linked. The linked strands are unable to uncoil and separate, which is necessary for the DNA to make copies of itself. Novantrone also blocks the action of an enzyme that helps repair damaged DNA.
When DNA is damaged and cannot make copies of itself, cells cannot divide and multiply. This causes the cells to die. Novantrone can cause cell death in cells that are rapidly multiplying, as well as in cells that are not multiplying. Generally, cancer cells multiply more rapidly than healthy cells.
Novantrone also prevents B-cells, T-cells, and macrophages from rapidly multiplying. These cells are thought to be involved in the immune response that causes the attack on myelin in people with MS. 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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