A controlled release doxorubicin containing composition comprises doxorubicin physically entrapped in a dextran-methacrylate biodegradable hydrogel. The composition provides a rapid initial release of doxorubicin over a period of 5 to 7 hours followed by slow release. Increased degree of substitution in the dextran methacrylate decreases cumulative doxorubicin release. The composition provides higher cumulative release in acid pH (e.g., the stomach) than at physiological pH at lower degrees of substitution. The composition allows administration alternatives to the bolus intravenous and continuous intravenous methods of administration now used for doxorubicin. The composition can be prepared without the use of heat (which can result in heat destruction of doxorubicin) and is prepared without chemical cross-linker such as glutaraldehyde and the toxicity associated therewith. The figure is a graph depicting cumulative amount of doxorubicin released from dextran-methacrylate hydrogels having different degrees of substitution in different pH media at 1 hour, 2 hours, 3 hours, 4 hours, 5 hours and 24 hours, and show results of Example 1.