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Gemzar is a medicine prescribed for the treatment of different types of cancer, such as ovarian cancer, breast cancer, and pancreatic cancer. Because the medication is administered intravenously (through an IV), it is usually given at a healthcare provider's office, a hospital, or an "infusion center." Commonly reported side effects of Gemzar include anemia, nausea, and vomiting.

What Is Gemzar?

Gemzar® (gemcitabine) is a prescription medication used to treat various types of cancer. Specifically, the medication is approved to treat:
(Click Gemzar Uses for more information on what the drug is used for, including possible off-label uses.)

Who Makes It?

Gemzar is currently made by Eli Lilly.

How Does Gemzar Work?

Gemzar is part of a group of medications called antimetabolites. Antimetabolites are medications that are similar to naturally occurring chemicals in the body that cells use to build DNA and other important parts of the cell. Antimetabolites are similar enough to these chemicals that cells mistake them for the real chemicals, using them to build DNA. However, antimetabolites are different enough that the DNA (or other cell structures) built using them will not function properly. Since DNA is essential for cells to grow and multiply, antimetabolite medications prevent cell growth and multiplication, and may cause cell death.
While Gemzar can kill both healthy and cancerous cells, it has a greater effect on cells that are multiplying rapidly. Generally, cancer cells multiply more rapidly than healthy cells and are, therefore, more affected by Gemzar.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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