Etoposide (Etopophos / Vepesid)

Etoposide (Etopophos / Vepesid) is an approved anti-cancer drug. It is used in combination with other drugs to treat a range of cancers including small cell carcinoma, lymphoma and testicular cancer.

Etoposide is being tested as a treatment for Kaposi’s sarcoma. Clinical trials suggest that a proportion of people with Kaposi’s sarcoma that has not responded to other treatments may respond to etoposide and experience improved quality of life.1 It may also be a useful treatment in patients with no prior experience of anti-cancer treatment.2 Etoposide may also be active against the related condition, multicentric Castleman’s disease.3

Etoposide comes either in capsule form or as a liquid for intravenous injection. The oral dose is usually double the injected dose. Nausea, vomiting and mouth ulcers occur especially often when it is taken in tablet form, and hair loss occurs frequently with both intravenous and oral administration. The most common side-effect requiring the dose to be reduced or treatment stopped is leukopenia, low levels of leukocytes in the blood.4

Etoposide is manufactured by Bristol-Myers Squibb. It is also sometimes referred to by the abbreviation VP-16.


  1. Evans SR et al. Phase II evaluation of low-dose oral etoposide for the treatment of relapsed or progressive AIDS-related Kaposi's sarcoma: an AIDS clinical trials group clinical study. J Clin Oncol 20: 3236-3241, 2002
  2. Schwartsmann G et al. Clinical and pharmacokinetic study of oral etoposide in patients with AIDS-related Kaposi's sarcoma with no prior exposure to cytotoxic therapy. J Clin Oncol 15: 2118-2124, 1997
  3. Scott D et al. Treatment of HIV-associated multicentric Castleman’s disease with oral etoposide. Am J Hematol 66: 148-150, 2001
  4. Sprinz E et al. Fractionated doses of oral etoposide in the treatment of patients with AIDS-related Kaposi’s sarcoma: a clinical and pharmacologic study to improve therapeutic index. Am J Clin Oncol 24: 177-184, 2001

Community Consensus Statement on Access to HIV Treatment and its Use for Prevention

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We can end HIV soon if people have equal access to HIV drugs as treatment and as PrEP, and have free choice over whether to take them.

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