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Hydroxyurea vs Nicosan

Jay sent me a question that I think some other people might have. So we are going to do a comparative analysis on the two medications

My doctor recently put me on Hydroxyurea. I was hesitant taking it because of the long term side effect of leukemia, but in the end I took it. I’ve been on it since May, and since May I still was getting sick and in the hospital. Then my doctor increased my dosage. My boss is from Nigeria and told me about Nicosan, Ive never heard of it before, so I started to read about it and that’s how I found you. What do you think about Nicosan and Hydroxyurea?

First of all Jay, let me correct your misconception. Hydroxyurea (or Hydrea) was used primarily for the treatment of myeloproliferative (cellular abnormality) diseases like leukemia. The problem is that this treatment might trigger another rapid cell growth (which is a cancer pre-cursor).

Personally I would never take Hydroxyurea, although several people have told me that it works for them. Nicosan is my drug of choice and it’s been treating me very, very well. I’m going to break the pros and cons of both of them down just so you get a better picture.


  1. Adjunct chemotherapy drug (don’t know about you, but I’m anti-cancer anything!)
  2. Method of action: increases production of fetal hemoglobin cells by increasing nitric oxide levels (so pretty much, you can just take a soluble form of nitric oxide and cut out the hydrea altogether. Look up L-Arginine)
  3. Very toxic to the liver and kidneys. Causes bone marrow suppression
  4. Needs regular blood monitoring to check your platelet, BUN, liver enzymes and CBC levels
  5. Long term use hasn’t been fully studied..who knows what will happen for those that have been on it for 10 years?
  6. It is shown to reduce your rate of crises by 30% after you’ve been on it for 6-12 months.
  7. Causes fertility problems in men and crosses the placental barrier in women, so you MUST not get pregnant or nurse while on it or you will have a jacked up baby
  8. The side effects are atrocious and range from hair loss, loss of appetite, drowsiness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, stomatitis, mucositis, anorexia….the list is practically endless. I’ve never talked to anyone that hasn’t exhibited at least one side effect.
  9. Has FDA approval although the pharmaceutical company keeps announcing that “the benefits outweigh the risks“. (*rolleyes*)
  10. #9 means that your insurance will pay for it and all you have is the $5-20 copay. If you don’t have insurance, it ranges from $80-$200 depending on your dosage.


  1. Natural and herbal. A combination of 3 herbs: Piper guineenses seeds, Pterocapus osum stem, Eugenia caryophyllum fruit and Sorghum bicolor leaves.
  2. Method of action: initiates an anti-sickling effect. The cells you do have won’t assume their sickle shape. This means no crises—yay!
  3. Naturally processed through the body. Doesn’t damage your organs in any way.
  4. No extra blood monitoring needed besides your usual H&H levels
  5. Long term use hasn’t been studied—but all these herbs have been used in African countries for thousands of years.
  6. Reduces the rate of crises by 80% after you’ve been on it for 30-90 days.
  7. Only side effect is flushing (blushing) due to increased blood circulation. Most people (like me) don’t even exhibit this.
  8. Has orphan drug status in the US although it’s fully approved in Nigeria. The only thing holding up FDA approval is the big pharmaceutical companies that want a cut of the pie. Since they don’t own the patent, they can’t charge you outrageously for it. The company that makes Hydroxyurea would loss their advantage in the field. They would rather us all suffer while they block the drug from being approved and keep lining their pockets.
  9. #6 means you will have to buy it out of pocket and order it from Nigeria until the FDA lets it be sold in the US under the phytochemical name of Hemoxin.
  10. If you are paying out of pocket and shipping from abroad, it’s pricier than Hydrea but this stuff actually works! 1 bottle of 30 pills costs around $60.00 and this includes shipping.

So….which do you think I picked? I’m on Nicosan, and it works for me.

For more information, read the tabs of the two drugs in the sidebar under File Cabinet. Good luck with your decision. Stay strong, stay positive and stay blessed!

About Author

Sickle Cell Warrior

Sickle Cell Warrior

Tosin is dedicated to perpetuating healthy and positive messages about sickle cell. Although sickle cell is a subject often taboo in the communities this condition is most prevalent, Tosin's message is that sickle cell is not something to be ashamed of and you can live a rich and fulfilling life with sickle cell. Sickle cell warriors are the most amazing people in the world, with a great fortitude for compassion, willpower and strength.

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  1. Blske Roberts
    Blske Roberts June 06, 00:56

    Hi, where do i get Nicosan from?

  2. Sickle Cell Warrior
    Sickle Cell Warrior Author June 06, 21:26

    Nicosan is very, very hard to come by now. All I have is the Children’s dose…no adults. The factory shut down and stopped production so it’s so scarce.

  3. Tosin Coker
    Tosin Coker June 07, 09:16

    Wow, they have stopped the production of Nicosan? I’m anti-cancer anything too. I took a couple of the Hydrea pills under duress, but I just couldn’t even fake it and point blank stopped. I also boycotted to my hospital appointments until I was put under a consultant other than the one who kept bullying me about it. He was horrible.

    It was fortunate that I didn’t take the hydrea properly, as for all the times I was told I may never be able to have a child, I fell pregnant with my firstborn. I shudder to think of the outcome had I taken them as told.

  4. Sickle Cell Warrior
    Sickle Cell Warrior Author June 07, 20:06

    Hey Namesake:) Yeah, Nicosan production stopped because some greedy people up top embezzled the money, the company filed for bankruptcy, was taken over by the banks, and now the banks don’t wanna open the factory back up for production because of some stupid paper-pushing. Don’t get me started on Nicosan man…it’s so frustrating that people are suffering because a few rich, fat businessmen don’t wanna get off their butts and do THEIR JOB!

    Re: Hydrea, yeah…God worked that out for you big time! Can you imagine if you had been taking it when you conceived? Yikes! You didn’t talk about your baby in the interview…please do some add on questions about your relationships and dating/being a mom with sickle cell (I just realized that). Thanks.

  5. Rachelle
    Rachelle June 07, 22:32

    OMGoodness! I dont even know what to say!
    Well first off I want to thank you for writing on this topic. And I am so glad that I discovered this site today!
    I am so shocked and I have been blinded for years about the effects of Hydroxyurea. I am a 23 year old student and I have been on Hydroxyurea since the 7th grade! When I first went on it, it worked well for me but now it has not been keeping me from the frequent hospital visits that I had experienced as a child. And Ive also been experiencing some of these side effects such as chronic nausea (which I have been trying to fix with tons of ginger tea) and diarrhea. I just didnt know where it was coming from at the time. This just disappoints me because I have trying to better my health through natural methods…and had no idea that their is a natural alternative to treatimg SCD.
    And now its scarce. Is their anythimg that we can do about this?

  6. Sickle Cell Warrior
    Sickle Cell Warrior Author June 08, 01:24

    @Rachelle, the sad part is that no one talks about the negative effects and side effects. The doctors assume the pharmacist will do it, and the pharmacist assumes the doctor has done it. This is why self-empowerment is very important. Your chronic nausea and diarrhea are classic Hydrea side effects.

    Regarding Nicosan, I wrote an open letter to the banks in Nigeria begging them to come to terms for our sakes. It was published in several daily papers out there as well as online. There are some rumblings of activity, but it’s the same rumblings that I’ve been hearing for 10 months. So I wouldn’t get my hopes up yet. It’s really disappointing that this amazing natural remedy has been ruined by greed and corruption. Don’t get me started talking on it!

    once there has been a resolution to the Nicosan dilemma, trust, I will be the first one blogging about it. So just keep checking here periodically and hopefully sometime soon there will be good news.

  7. dabo
    dabo May 25, 17:06

    hello tosin. i want to know more about nicosan. i am currently on hydrea and not really experiencing serious symptoms or side effects. but it seems you claim nicosan is better mainly cos it reduces crises by 80% (hydrea does this by just 30%) and other reasons. is this scientific/medical? is this from blood work or just hearsay?
    if nicosan is proven to be so much better then i want to try it. i want to know when production resumes and how to help to resume production if i can! i want to know how to get it and also want to know if hematologists are monitoring patients on this drug? does your hematologist monitor/supervise your taking this drug?

  8. Sickle Cell Warrior
    Sickle Cell Warrior Author May 25, 18:33

    Hey Dabo

    Nicosan is really hard to come by. If you have the ability to get it, then I recommend you try it. My hematologist actually was against Nicosan from the beginning because it was not FDA approved. But after reading about the side effects of Hydroxyurea, there was no way that I was interested in it. I feel that my Hematologist kept pushing me to take Hydrea, even with all the potential harm it could do to my body. For me, the benefits did not outweigh the risks.

    My hemoglobin counts increased on Nicosan from my usual range of 7-8 to 9-10; and I have not had a blood transfusion since I started taking Nicosan. Usually I have 2-3 transfusions a year. I usually have a crisis every 3 months, and pain about 85% of the time. On Nicosan, I have no crisis at all and no daily pain.

    Nicosan is a nutraceutical…it’s an herbal remedy, and no doctor is going to stand behind something that is not FDA approved in the USA, not with all the sue happy people around. It has gotten Orphan drug status but due to all the issues surrounding production, noone has pursued the clinical trials in the USA. The trials done in Nigeria showed remarkable success. I had the opportunity to speak with several people that participated in the trial, and that enlightened me. You should do your own research, and if you feel like it can help you, and you are able to have access to it, then give it a try. What can it hurt? Nothing. The only side effect I noticed as nausea when I took it on an empty stomach.

    I would rather do herbal remedies any day before I take a Cancer drug. I don’t have cancer.

    When my Nicosan runs out (as it will in a few weeks, ) I will be taking Cellod-S. This is another herbal remedy that is available now and so many people are raving about how it’s helping them. I’m glad that herbal remedies do wonders for me, and i hope that it will do the same for you and everyone else. Good luck in whatever you decide.

  9. dabo
    dabo May 27, 20:04

    i trust you will inform me and everyone else what Cellod-S is all about and where and how to get it. i assume it is so good and thats why many are raving about it.

    PHILOMINA June 13, 22:09


  11. Annette
    Annette September 10, 15:42

    Is there anyway that we can take the children dose and double up on it? how much those a children bottle cost? I’ve been in and out the hospital every two weeks in crises and right now i give anything just like everyone else, to be pain free.

  12. Sickle Cell Warrior
    Sickle Cell Warrior October 10, 18:11

    Hemoxide is simular to Nicosan,checkout this website or call 1-800-832-9755, has anyone heard of this company? I found it while searching the internet for SCD herbs.Where can get Cellod-5?

  13. zainab
    zainab October 12, 04:04

    i have been on hydroxyurea since December 2009. it has reduced crises significantly for me. i used to get hospitalised evry month before my consultant forced me to start taking it. i have used virtually all drugs , sickle cell. i used Nicosan from 2000 – 2007. on and off though. i started with Nicosan when it was just practicals in NIPRD, Idu Abuja. it worked for a while for me. but i was a teenager in university and was still getting too many crises . Anyway, i rep Hydroxyurea. unfortunately, i got pregnant whilst taking it. and panicked into terminating d baby. i have bn depressed and sick (not crises tho)since then. my husband and i have decided i shld stop working next year, so i can risk stopping hydroxyurea and concentrate on conceiving. i pray for God’s help and mercy..

  14. Sickle Cell Warrior
    Sickle Cell Warrior Author October 19, 22:18 there is a group on Facebook. Ask LaMonte Forthun.

  15. cat
    cat June 22, 23:10

    kindly my nephew is a sickler how do i get the drug i stay in Uganda

  16. Adda
    Adda October 28, 12:13

    Thank you so much for this article. My daughter has sickle cell disease. Her doctor wants her to start on hydroxyurea. I’m really scare and I don’t wabt her to. But every time I take my two year old she keeps insisting. I don’t know what to do. She hasn’t been hospitalized since last year. I really feel like her doctor is pressuring me I really need someone to talk to.

  17. Sule
    Sule January 10, 09:01

    Where can I get hydroxyurea in Abuja or Kano. I am based in Damaturu Yobe State. Pls assist.

  18. HopefulUncle
    HopefulUncle August 14, 16:41

    Wow, this was very helpful! I didn’t know about the severity of the side effects. I have a family member who will not allow their kid to hydroxyurea and didn’t know why. They mentioned side effects but I assumed that they were the normal uncomfortable side effects. Does anyone know where we can get the children’s dose?

  19. Chy
    Chy December 15, 22:35

    My son is 3yrs old. How can I get nicosan for children?

  20. brymo
    brymo January 30, 09:29

    I have been on hydroxyurea for about 3 years now in lagos Nigeria. Its been a good drug for me. What I do is just use one tablet twice a week, every other day, or when i am stressed. The trick is reduce the dosage.

  21. Georg
    Georg February 25, 13:05

    Where can we get nicosan in Nigeria now?

  22. Ade
    Ade April 23, 06:39

    Can a child of 2 years use hydoxyurea? If so, where can I get it?

  23. Hauwa
    Hauwa May 30, 15:49

    Hi Zainab? I understand how you feel. Please don’t be depressed about the choice you made to terminate. I was in that same situation too but God saw me through. A consultant in Lagos forced me to begin hydroxyurea in 2009 December and it worked wonders for me. I still had crisis but significantly reduced. I did jobs I couldn’t imagine for 5 years. Then I got married and took in immediately while my spouse and I were still considering subtle ways to ease off the drug. I stopped it suddenly and decided to keep the pregnancy. I had severe crises and blood transfusions, eventually losing the baby at 8 months plus, a stillborn. I suffered severe depression too. A year later, we decided to start trying again but found out I was pregnant whilst on hydroxyurea AGAIN! My doctors were livid at my carelessness. I was advised to abort since I was on both hydroxyurea and sodium valproate. Or to keep monitoring until it’s safe to keep. I chose to keep. It was a scary 9 months. Today, I have a healthy beautiful one year old daughter who is intelligent and even surpassed her milestones. I won’t advise you to risk knowingly conceiving with hydroxyurea but if it should happen again, trust God.

  24. Daniel
    Daniel July 24, 13:51

    Thank you very much for this great information.
    Please any word for Nicosan producers or any available source of it please do inform us.

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