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Ann Pharmacother. 2012 Oct;46(10):1349-57. doi: 10.1345/aph.1Q677. Epub 2012 Oct 2.

Levoleucovorin as replacement for leucovorin in cancer treatment.

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  • 1School of Pharmacy, Faculty of Health Sciences, Curtin Health Innovation & Research Institute, Curtin University, Perth, Western Australia, Australia.



To comprehensively review the literature regarding the efficacy, safety, and costs associated with the use of levoleucovorin in cancer treatment and to assess whether levoleucovorin would be a reasonable alternative to the use of racemic leucovorin.


A MEDLINE search was conducted for English-language human studies published between January 1980 and April 2012 using the terms l-LV, levoleucovorin, d,l-LV, leucovorin, folinic acid, folinate, 5-formyltetrahydrofolate, folic acid, folates, methotrexate, 5-fluorouracil, and clinical trials.


Articles pertinent to clinical trials (Phase 1, 2, 3) related to evaluating the efficacy, interchangeability, and safety of levoleucovorin were collected and their contents reviewed.


From these pharmacokinetics and clinical studies, information on the use of levoleucovorin as a modulator of fluorouracil as well as when combined with other antitumor agents were scrutinized and extracted for comparison with leucovorin whenever possible. Two randomized Phase 3 clinical studies comparing the efficacy and adverse effect profiles of leucovorin and levoleucovorin demonstrated that levoleucovorin is as effective as leucovorin in terms of response, toxicity, and survival. Six randomized Phase 3 clinical studies demonstrated the safety and efficacy of levoleucovorin as a modulator of fluorouracil in combination with/without other antitumor agents in colorectal cancer patients. Levoleucovorin has been studied in other cancers. These clinical Phase 1/2/3 studies demonstrated efficacy and safety of levoleucovorin in combination chemotherapeutic regimens comprising fluorouracil and other antitumor agents.


The results of the clinical studies suggest that levoleucovorin is efficacious and can be used safely in combination with fluorouracil and other antitumor agents. Levoleucovorin can be used interchangeably with leucovorin for modulating fluorouracil. The current shortage of the supply of leucovorin centered in North America renders levoleucovorin a reasonable alternative in terms of efficacy and toxicity profile, but from the perspective of cost, leucovorin remains the drug of choice.

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