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    Serotonin Antagonists (5-HT3 Receptor Antagonists)

    Serotonin Antagonists (5-HT3 Receptor Antagonists)


    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.

    Taking ondansetron may increase a person's risk for a very rare but serious condition called serotonin syndrome.

    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) (What is a PDF document?) to help you understand this medication.


    By Healthwise Staff
    Sarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
    Douglas A. Stewart, MD - Medical Oncology
    Last Revised September 19, 2013

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