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Hydroxycarbamide, also known as hydroxyurea, is a medication used in sickle-cell disease, chronic myelogenous leukemia, cervical cancer, and polycythemia vera. In sickle-cell disease it increases hemoglobin and decreases the number of attacks. It is taken by mouth.
Common side effects include bone marrow suppression, fevers, loss of appetite, psychiatric problems, shortness of breath, and headaches. There is also concern that it increases the risk of later cancers. Use during pregnancy is typically harmful to the baby. Hydroxycarbamide is in the antineoplastic family of medications. It is believed to work by blocking the making of DNA.
Hydroxycarbamide was approved for medical use in the United States in 1967. It is on the World Health Organization's List of Essential Medicines, the most effective and safe medicines needed in a health system. Hydroxycarbamide is available as a generic medication. The wholesale cost in the developing world is about US$0.35â0.47 per day. In the United States it costs less than $25 a month.