Imatinib

Adult Medication

This information from Lexicomp® explains what you need to know about this medication, including what it’s used for, how to take it, its side effects, and when to call your healthcare provider.

Brand Names: US

Gleevec

Brand Names: Canada

ACH-Imatinib; APO-Imatinib; Gleevec; JAMP-Imatinib; MINT-Imatinib; NAT-Imatinib; PMS-Imatinib; TEVA-Imatinib

What is this drug used for?

  • It is used to treat cancer.
  • It is used to treat blood problems.

What do I need to tell my doctor BEFORE I take this drug?

  • If you are allergic to this drug; any part of this drug; or any other drugs, foods, or substances. Tell your doctor about the allergy and what signs you had.
  • If you are taking warfarin.
  • If you are taking any of these drugs: Carbamazepine, dexamethasone, phenobarbital, phenytoin, rifabutin, rifampin, or St. John’s wort.
  • If you are breast-feeding. Do not breast-feed while you take this drug or for 1 month after you stop this drug.

This is not a list of all drugs or health problems that interact with this drug.

Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all of your drugs (prescription or OTC, natural products, vitamins) and health problems. You must check to make sure that it is safe for you to take this drug with all of your drugs and health problems. Do not start, stop, or change the dose of any drug without checking with your doctor.

What are some things I need to know or do while I take this drug?

  • Tell all of your health care providers that you take this drug. This includes your doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.
  • Avoid driving and doing other tasks or actions that call for you to be alert or have clear eyesight until you see how this drug affects you.
  • You may have more chance of getting an infection. Wash hands often. Stay away from people with infections, colds, or flu.
  • You may bleed more easily. Be careful and avoid injury. Use a soft toothbrush and an electric razor.
  • If you have upset stomach, throwing up, diarrhea, or are not hungry, talk with your doctor. There may be ways to lower these side effects.
  • If you have had your thyroid taken out, talk with your doctor. You may need to have blood work checked more closely.
  • Talk with your doctor before getting any vaccines. Use of some vaccines with this drug may either raise the chance of an infection or make the vaccine not work as well.
  • Have blood work checked as you have been told by the doctor. Talk with the doctor.
  • This drug may cause you to swell or keep fluid in your body. Tell your doctor if you have swelling, weight gain, or trouble breathing.
  • Very bad and sometimes deadly holes in the GI (gastrointestinal) tract have happened with this drug. Talk with the doctor.
  • Very bad and sometimes deadly liver problems have happened with this drug. Call your doctor right away if you have signs of liver problems like dark urine, feeling tired, not hungry, upset stomach or stomach pain, light-colored stools, throwing up, or yellow skin or eyes.
  • Patients with cancer who take this drug may be at a greater risk of getting a severe health problem called tumor lysis syndrome (TLS). This may lead to death. Call your doctor right away if you have a fast or abnormal heartbeat; any passing out; trouble passing urine; muscle weakness or cramps; upset stomach, throwing up, diarrhea, or not able to eat; or feel sluggish.
  • Heart failure has happened with this drug, as well as heart failure that has gotten worse in people who already have it. Tell your doctor if you have heart disease. Call your doctor right away if you have shortness of breath, a big weight gain, a heartbeat that is not normal, or swelling in the arms or legs that is new or worse.
  • If you are 65 or older, use this drug with care. You could have more side effects.
  • This drug may affect growth in children and teens in some cases. They may need regular growth checks. Talk with the doctor.
  • This drug may cause harm to an unborn baby. A pregnancy test will be done before you start this drug to show that you are NOT pregnant.
  • If you may become pregnant, you must use birth control while taking this drug and for some time after the last dose. Ask your doctor how long to use birth control. If you get pregnant, call your doctor right away.

What are some side effects that I need to call my doctor about right away?

WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:

  • Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
  • Signs of infection like fever, chills, very bad sore throat, ear or sinus pain, cough, more sputum or change in color of sputum, pain with passing urine, mouth sores, or wound that will not heal.
  • Signs of bleeding like throwing up or coughing up blood; vomit that looks like coffee grounds; blood in the urine; black, red, or tarry stools; bleeding from the gums; abnormal vaginal bleeding; bruises without a cause or that get bigger; or bleeding you cannot stop.
  • Signs of electrolyte problems like mood changes, confusion, muscle pain or weakness, a heartbeat that does not feel normal, seizures, not hungry, or very bad upset stomach or throwing up.
  • Signs of kidney problems like unable to pass urine, change in how much urine is passed, blood in the urine, or a big weight gain.
  • Chest pain or pressure.
  • A burning, numbness, or tingling feeling that is not normal.
  • Change in eyesight.
  • Low mood (depression).
  • Bone pain.
  • A severe skin reaction (Stevens-Johnson syndrome/toxic epidermal necrolysis) may happen. It can cause severe health problems that may not go away, and sometimes death. Get medical help right away if you have signs like red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin (with or without fever); red or irritated eyes; or sores in your mouth, throat, nose, or eyes.

What are some other side effects of this drug?

All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:

  • Hair loss.
  • Constipation, diarrhea, stomach pain, upset stomach, throwing up, or feeling less hungry.
  • Muscle spasm.
  • Feeling dizzy, sleepy, tired, or weak.
  • Trouble sleeping.
  • Gas.
  • Headache.
  • Dry skin.
  • Change in taste.
  • Nose or throat irritation.
  • Joint pain.
  • Weight gain.
  • Night sweats.
  • Back pain.
  • Anxiety.

These are not all of the side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, call your doctor. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.

You may report side effects to your national health agency.

You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-332-1088. You may also report side effects at https://www.fda.gov/medwatch.

How is this drug best taken?

Use this drug as ordered by your doctor. Read all information given to you. Follow all instructions closely.

  • Take with a meal.
  • Take with a full glass of water.
  • You may put tablets in a glass of water or apple juice. How much liquid to use depends on your dose. Talk with your doctor. Put this drug in the water or apple juice and stir. Drink right away after this drug has dissolved. Rinse cup with more water or juice and drink.
  • Take this drug at the same time of day.
  • Keep taking this drug as you have been told by your doctor or other health care provider, even if you feel well.
  • Drink lots of noncaffeine liquids unless told to drink less liquid by your doctor.
  • Avoid grapefruit and grapefruit juice.
  • If the tablet is crushed or broken, do not touch the contents. If you do touch the contents or get it in your eyes, wash hands or eyes right away.

What do I do if I miss a dose?

  • Skip the missed dose and go back to your normal time.
  • Do not take 2 doses at the same time or extra doses.

How do I store and/or throw out this drug?

  • Store at room temperature in a dry place. Do not store in a bathroom.
  • Keep all drugs in a safe place. Keep all drugs out of the reach of children and pets.
  • Throw away unused or expired drugs. Do not flush down a toilet or pour down a drain unless you are told to do so. Check with your pharmacist if you have questions about the best way to throw out drugs. There may be drug take-back programs in your area.

General drug facts

  • If your symptoms or health problems do not get better or if they become worse, call your doctor.
  • Do not share your drugs with others and do not take anyone else’s drugs.
  • Some drugs may have another patient information leaflet. If you have any questions about this drug, please talk with your doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Some drugs may have another patient information leaflet. Check with your pharmacist. If you have any questions about this drug, please talk with your doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.

Consumer Information Use and Disclaimer

This generalized information is a limited summary of diagnosis, treatment, and/or medication information. It is not meant to be comprehensive and should be used as a tool to help the user understand and/or assess potential diagnostic and treatment options. It does NOT include all information about conditions, treatments, medications, side effects, or risks that may apply to a specific patient. It is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for the medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment of a health care provider based on the health care provider’s examination and assessment of a patient’s specific and unique circumstances. Patients must speak with a health care provider for complete information about their health, medical questions, and treatment options, including any risks or benefits regarding use of medications. This information does not endorse any treatments or medications as safe, effective, or approved for treating a specific patient. UpToDate, Inc. and its affiliates disclaim any warranty or liability relating to this information or the use thereof. The use of this information is governed by the Terms of Use, available at https://www.wolterskluwer.com/en/solutions/lexicomp/about/eula.

Last Reviewed Date

2020-09-08

Copyright

© 2021 UpToDate, Inc. and its affiliates and/or licensors. All rights reserved.

Last Updated