Stability and compatibility of antitumor agents in glass and plastic containers

Am J Hosp Pharm. 1981 Dec;38(12):1914-8.


The stability of methotrexate, fluorouracil, cytarabine, dactinomycin, doxorubicin, bleomycin sulfate, mitomycin, mithramycin, vincristine sulfate, vinblastine sulfate, cyclophosphamide, dacarbazine, carmustine, and leucovorin calcium in underfilled plastic and glass administration containers was determined. Drugs were reconstituted according to manufacturers' instructions and added to 5% dextrose injection 50 ml in both polyvinyl chloride bags and glass partial-fill bottles. In addition, mitomycin was added to 0.9% sodium chloride injection 50 ml in both polyvinyl chloride bags and glass partial-fill bottles. All admixtures were stored at room temperature, not protected from light. Stability was determined over 24 hours (48 hours for doxorubicin and fluorouracil) by high-pressure liquid chromatography, except for cyclophosphamide (analyzed by mass spectrometry) and carmustine (analyzed by spectrophotometry). Methotrexate, leucovorin calcium, cytarabine, dactinomycin, mithramycin, vinblastine sulfate, cyclophosphamide, and dacarbazine were equally stable (10% or less change in concentration over 24 hours) in glass and plastic containers. Doxorubicin and fluorouracil were more stable in plastic containers than glass containers. The T90 value for doxorubicin in glass was 40 hours; there was no apparent decrease in plastic even after 48 hours. The T90 value for fluorouracil in glass was seven hours and in plastic, 43 hours. Vincristine sulfate, bleomycin sulfate, and carmustine were more stable in glass than plastic. The T90 value for vincristine sulfate in plastic was 10 hours. The T90 value for bleomycin sulfate in plastic was 0.7 hour. The T90 value for carmustine in plastic was 0.6 hour. Mitomycin dissolved in 0.9% sodium chloride injection was more stable in plastic. Mitomycin dissolved in 5% dextrose injection was not stable. Carmustine and bleomycin sulfate should be administered only in glass containers. Continuous infusions of doxorubicin and fluorouracil are more completely delivered from plastic containers. Mitomycin should not be dissolved in 5% dextrose injection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antineoplastic Agents*
  • Carmustine
  • Chromatography, High Pressure Liquid / methods
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Drug Incompatibility
  • Drug Packaging*
  • Drug Stability
  • Glass
  • Plastics


  • Antineoplastic Agents
  • Plastics
  • Cyclophosphamide
  • Carmustine