Anastrozole, sold under the brand name Arimidex among others, is a medication used in addition to other treatments for breast cancer. Specifically it is used for hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. It has also been used to prevent breast cancer in those at high risk. It is taken by mouth.
Common side effects of anastrozole include hot flushes, altered mood, joint pain, and nausea. Severe side effects include an increased risk of heart disease and osteoporosis. Use during pregnancy may harm the baby. Anastrozole is in the aromatase-inhibiting family of medications. It works by blocking the production of estrogens in the body, and hence has antiestrogenic effects.
Anastrozole was patented in 1987 and was approved for medical use in 1995. It is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines, the most effective and safe medicines needed in a health system. Anastrozole is available as a generic medication. The wholesale cost in the developing world is about US$1.92–30.60 a month. In the United States the wholesale cost is about $3.81 per month. In 2016, it was the 224th most prescribed medication in the United States, with more than 2 million prescriptions.Anastrozole is used in the treatment and prevention of breast cancer in women. The Arimidex, Tamoxifen, Alone or in Combination (ATAC) trial was of localized breast cancer and women received either anastrozole, the selective estrogen receptor modulator tamoxifen, or both for five years, followed by five years of follow-up. After more than 5 years the group that received anastrozole had better results than the tamoxifen group. The trial suggested that anastrozole is the preferred medical therapy for postmenopausal women with localized estrogen receptor-positive breast cancer.The bioavailability of anastrozole in humans is unknown, but it was found to be well-absorbed in animals. Absorption of anastrozole is linear over a dosage range of 1 to 20 mg/day in humans and does not change with repeated administration. Food does not significantly influence the extent of absorption of anastrozole. Peak levels of anastrozole occur a median 3 hours after administration, but with a wide range of 2 to 12 hours. Steady-state levels of anastrozole are achieved within 7 to 10 days of continuous administration, with 3.5-fold accumulation. However, maximal suppression of estradiol levels occurs within 3 or 4 days of therapy.
Active efflux of anastrozole by P-glycoprotein at the blood–brain barrier has been found to limit the central nervous system penetration of anastrozole in rodents, whereas this was not the case with letrozole and vorozole. As such, anastrozole may have peripheral selectivity in humans, although this has yet to be confirmed. The plasma protein binding of anastrozole is 40%.
The metabolism of anastrozole is by N-dealkylation, hydroxylation, and glucuronidation. Inhibition of aromatase is due to anastrozole itself rather than to metabolites, with the major circulating metabolite being inactive. The elimination half-life of anastrozole is 40 to 50 hours (1.7 to 2.1 days). This allows for convenient once-daily administration. The medication is eliminated predominantly by metabolism in the liver (83 to 85%) but also by residual excretion by the kidneys unchanged (11%). Anastrozole is excreted primarily in urine but also to a lesser extent in feces.