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Invest New Drugs. 2004 Aug;22(3):299-305.

Phase I dose escalation trial of feverfew with standardized doses of parthenolide in patients with cancer.

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Department of Pharmacy Practice, Purdue University, Indianapolis, IN, USA.



Feverfew is a botanical product that contains parthenolide. Parthenolide has in vitro and in vivo anti-tumor and anti-angiogenic activity. Feverfew has been used extensively without any formal pharmacokinetic analysis. A Phase I trial was conducted to evaluate the pharmacokinetics and toxicity of parthenolide given as a component of "feverfew."


Feverfew (Tanacet trade mark ) was administered as a daily oral tablet in a 28-day cycle. A starting dose of 1 mg per day was explored with subsequent dose escalations to 2, 3, and 4 mg. Assessment of plasma pharmacokinetics was performed on patients accrued to the trial. Solid phase extraction and mass spectroscopy were used to evaluate parthenolide plasma concentrations. The limit of detection for parthenolide in plasma was 0.5 ng/ml. Patients were evaluated for response after every two cycles.


Feverfew given on this schedule had no significant toxicity, and the maximum tolerated dose was not reached. When parthenolide was administered at doses up to 4 mg as a daily oral capsule in the feverfew preparation, there was not detectable concentration in the plasma. Because of this, parthenolide pharmacokinetics were not able to be completed.


Feverfew, with up to 4 mg of parthenolide, given daily as an oral tablet is well tolerated without dose-limiting toxicity, but does not provide detectable plasma concentrations. Purification of parthenolide for administration of higher doses will be needed.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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