Cremophor EL: the drawbacks and advantages of vehicle selection for drug formulation

Eur J Cancer. 2001 Sep;37(13):1590-8. doi: 10.1016/s0959-8049(01)00171-x.


Cremophor EL (CrEL) is a formulation vehicle used for various poorly-water soluble drugs, including the anticancer agent paclitaxel (Taxol). In contrast to earlier reports, CrEL is not an inert vehicle, but exerts a range of biological effects, some of which have important clinical implications. Its use has been associated with severe anaphylactoid hypersensitivity reactions, hyperlipidaemia, abnormal lipoprotein patterns, aggregation of erythrocytes and peripheral neuropathy. The pharmacokinetic behaviour of CrEL is dose-independent, although its clearance is highly influenced by duration of the infusion. This is particularly important since CrEL can affect the disposition of various drugs by changing the unbound drug concentration through micellar encapsulation. In addition, it has been shown that CrEL, as an integral component of paclitaxel chemotherapy, modifies the toxicity profile of certain anticancer agents given concomitantly, by mechanisms other than kinetic interference. A clear understanding of the biological and pharmacological role of CrEL is essential to help oncologists avoid side-effects associated with the use of paclitaxel or other agents using this vehicle. With the present development of various new anticancer agents, it is recommended that alternative formulation approaches should be pursued to allow a better control of the toxicity of the treatment and the pharmacological interactions related to the use of CrEL.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1 / physiology
  • Antineoplastic Agents / administration & dosage
  • Antineoplastic Agents / pharmacokinetics
  • Chemistry, Pharmaceutical
  • Glycerol* / adverse effects
  • Glycerol* / analogs & derivatives
  • Glycerol* / pharmacokinetics
  • Glycerol* / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Hyperlipidemias / chemically induced
  • Lipoproteins / blood
  • Nervous System Diseases / chemically induced
  • Surface-Active Agents* / adverse effects
  • Surface-Active Agents* / pharmacokinetics
  • Surface-Active Agents* / pharmacology


  • ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily B, Member 1
  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Lipoproteins
  • Surface-Active Agents
  • cremophor EL
  • Glycerol