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Application of Imatinib

Brand Name(s): Gleevec

Generic Name Imatinib

What are imatinib capsules or tablets?

IMATINIB (Gleevec®) targets specific proteins within distinct cancer cells and stops the cancer cells from growing. Imatinib is used to treat certain cancers including chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) and specific sarcomas called GISTs. This drug might be used to treat other cancers as well. Generic imatinib capsules or tablets are not available.

What should my health care professional know before I receive imatinib?

They need to know if you have any of these conditions:

  • bleeding problems
  • dental disease
  • infection (especially cold sores or shingles)
  • heart disease (such as heart failure)
  • jaundice
  • liver disease
  • an unusual or allergic reaction to imatinib, other medicines, foods, dyes, or preservatives
  • pregnant or trying to get pregnant
  • breast-feeding

How should I use this medicine?

Imatinib is taken by mouth. You should take imatinib with food and a full glass of water to decrease the chance of it upsetting your stomach. Follow the directions on the prescription label. Do not take your medicine more often than directed.

Contact your pediatrician or health care professional regarding the use of this medicine in children. Special care may be needed.

What if I miss a dose?

Take your missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, take only that one, and skip your missed dose. Do not take extra or double doses.

What drug(s) may interact with imatinib?

There are many possible drug interactions with imatinib. Make sure to tell your health care professional about all the medicines you are taking.

  • amiodarone
  • antiviral medicines (such as protease inhibitors, delavirdine, efavirenz, or nevirapine)
  • astemizole
  • bepridil
  • bosentan
  • certain medicines for anxiety or difficulty sleeping
  • certain medicines for fungal infections
  • certain medicines for high blood pressure
  • certain medicines for high cholesterol (such as atorvastatin, cerivastatin, lovastatin, simvastatin)
  • certain pain medicines
  • cisapride
  • clarithromycin
  • cyclosporine
  • dofetilide
  • ergot medicines (such as Cafergot®, Migranal®, D.H.E. 45®, and others)
  • flecainide
  • medicines for depression
  • medicines for seizures
  • pimozide
  • propafenone
  • quinidine
  • rifabutin
  • rifampin
  • sildenafil
  • sirolimus
  • St. John's wort or any herbal products containing St. John's wort
  • tacrolimus
  • terfenadine
  • vaccines
  • warfarin

Talk to your prescriber or health care professional before taking any of these medicines:

  • acetaminophen
  • aspirin
  • ibuprofen
  • ketoprofen
  • naproxen

Tell your prescriber or health care professional about all other medicines that you are taking, including nonprescription medicines, nutritional supplements, or herbal products. Also tell your prescriber or health care professional if you are a frequent user of drinks with caffeine or alcohol, if you smoke, or if you use illegal drugs. These may affect the way your medicine works. Check with your health care professional before stopping or starting any of your medicines.

What side effects may I notice from receiving imatinib?

Side effects that you should report to your prescriber or health care professional as soon as possible:

  • low blood counts - imatinib may decrease the number of white blood cells, red blood cells and platelets. You may be at increased risk for infections and bleeding.
  • signs of infection - fever or chills, cough, sore throat, pain or difficulty passing urine
  • signs of decreased platelets or bleeding - bruising, pinpoint red spots on the skin, black, tarry stools, blood in the urine, nosebleeds
  • signs of decreased red blood cells - unusual weakness or tiredness, fainting spells, lightheadedness
  • difficulty breathing
  • swelling around the eyes or in your legs
  • sores or white patches in your mouth or throat
  • sudden weight gain
  • yellowing of skin or eyes, dark colored urine

Side effects that usually do not require medical attention (report to your prescriber or health care professional if they continue or are bothersome):

  • anxiety
  • bone or muscle pain
  • constipation
  • decreased appetite
  • diarrhea
  • difficulty sleeping
  • fatigue
  • headache
  • heartburn
  • muscle cramps
  • nausea/vomiting
  • night sweats
  • skin rash, itching
  • stomach discomfort
  • weakness

What should I watch for while taking imatinib?

Visit your prescriber or health care professional for checks on your progress. You will need to have regular blood checks. The side effects of imatinib may continue after you finish your treatment; report side effects promptly.

Imatinib will decrease your body's ability to fight infections. Call your prescriber or health care professional if you have a fever, chills, sore throat, or other symptoms of a cold or flu. Do not treat these symptoms yourself. Try to avoid being around people who are sick. Imatinib may increase your risk to bruise or bleed. Call your prescriber or health care professional if you notice any unusual bleeding. Be careful not to cut, bruise or injure yourself because you may get an infection and bleed more than usual.

Avoid taking aspirin, acetaminophen (Tylenol®), ibuprofen (Advil®), ketoprofen (Orudis KT®), or naproxen (Aleve®) products as these may mask a fever, unless instructed to by your prescriber or health care professional.

Be careful brushing and flossing your teeth or using a toothpick while taking imatinib because you may get an infection or bleed more easily. If you have any dental work done, tell your dentist you are taking imatinib.

Do not have any vaccinations without your prescriber's approval and avoid anyone who has recently had the oral polio vaccine.

There is a risk of birth defects if imatinib is given during pregnancy. Women should not become pregnant while being treated with imatinib.

If you are going to have surgery or any other procedures, tell your doctor you are taking imatinib.

Where can I keep my medicine?

Keep out of reach of children.

Store capsules at room temperature between 15 and 30 °C (59 and 86 °F). Throw away any unused medicine after the expiration date on the label.


(Note: The above information is not intended to replace the advice of your physician, pharmacist, or other healthcare professional. It is not meant to indicate that the use of the product is safe, appropriate, or effective for you.)

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