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Bexarotene

Generic Name: bexarotene (bex-AR-oh-teen)
Brand Name: Targretin

Bexarotene may cause serious birth defects if used by a pregnant woman. Women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant during treatment must not use bexarotene.

Women must have a negative pregnancy test within 1 week of starting bexarotene and must take a pregnancy test every month while taking bexarotene. You must either abstain from sexual intercourse or use 2 effective forms of birth control for 1 month before starting bexarotene, during the use of bexarotene, and for at least 1 month after stopping bexarotene. At least 1 form of birth control should include condoms, diaphragms, cervical caps, intrauterine devices (IUDs), or spermicides. If pregnancy occurs before, during, or within 1 month after treatment with bexarotene, notify your doctor immediately.

Men with partners who are pregnant, are possibly pregnant, or could become pregnant must use a condom while taking bexarotene and for at least 1 month after the last dose is taken.


Bexarotene is used for:

Treating skin conditions caused by certain cancers in patients who have not responded to other treatments.

Bexarotene is a retinoid. It works by inhibiting the growth of certain cancer cells.

Do NOT use bexarotene if:

  • you are allergic to any ingredient in bexarotene or similar medicines
  • you are pregnant or planning to become pregnant
  • you are taking gemfibrozil

Contact your doctor or health care provider right away if any of these apply to you.

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Before using bexarotene:

Some medical conditions may interact with bexarotene. Tell your doctor or pharmacist if you have any medical conditions, especially if any of the following apply to you:

  • if you are breast-feeding
  • if you are taking any prescription or nonprescription medicine, herbal preparation, or dietary supplement
  • if you have allergies to medicines, foods, or other substances
  • if you have had a severe allergic reaction (eg, severe rash, hives, itching, difficulty breathing, dizziness) to other retinoids (eg, isotretinoin, acitretin)
  • if you have kidney problems, high cholesterol or triglyceride levels, thyroid problems, or diabetes
  • if you have a history of liver problems, pancreas inflammation (pancreatitis), gallbladder disease, or cataracts
  • if you suffer from alcoholism or you regularly drink alcohol

Some MEDICINES MAY INTERACT with bexarotene. Tell your health care provider if you are taking any other medicines, especially any of the following:

  • Erythromycin, gemfibrozil, itraconazole, ketoconazole, or paclitaxel plus carboplatin because they may increase the risk of bexarotene's side effects
  • Phenobarbital, phenytoin, or rifampin because they may decrease bexarotene's effectiveness
  • Insulin or other diabetes medicines (eg, glyburide, pioglitazone), or multivitamins or other supplements that contain vitamin A because the risk of their side effects may be increased by bexarotene
  • Atorvastatin or tamoxifen because their effectiveness may be decreased by bexarotene

This may not be a complete list of all interactions that may occur. Ask your health care provider if bexarotene may interact with other medicines that you take. Check with your health care provider before you start, stop, or change the dose of any medicine.

How to use bexarotene:

Use bexarotene as directed by your doctor. Check the label on the medicine for exact dosing instructions.

  • An extra patient leaflet is available with bexarotene. Talk to your pharmacist if you have questions about this information.
  • Take bexarotene by mouth with food or just after a meal.
  • Swallow bexarotene whole. Do not break, crush, or chew before swallowing.
  • Eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice may affect the amount of bexarotene in your blood. Talk with your doctor before including grapefruit or grapefruit juice in your diet.
  • If capsules are broken or leaking, do not touch the capsules or their contents, and contact your pharmacist. If capsule contents accidentally get on your skin, wash the area immediately with soap and water and contact your doctor.
  • It may take several weeks to months for bexarotene to work. Do not stop using bexarotene without first checking with your doctor.
  • If you miss a dose of bexarotene, take it as soon as possible with food. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take 2 doses at once.

Ask your health care provider any questions you may have about how to use bexarotene.

Important safety information:

  • Bexarotene may cause dizziness. These effects may be worse if you take it with alcohol or certain medicines. Use bexarotene with caution. Do not drive or perform other possibly unsafe tasks until you know how you react to it.
  • Bexarotene may lower the ability of your body to fight infection. Avoid contact with people who have colds or infections. Do not touch your eyes or the inside of your nose unless you have thoroughly washed your hands first. Tell your doctor if you notice signs of infection like fever, sore throat, rash, or chills.
  • Bexarotene may cause you to become sunburned more easily. Avoid the sun, sunlamps, or tanning booths until you know how you react to bexarotene. Use a sunscreen or wear protective clothing if you must be outside for more than a short time.
  • Do not take large doses of vitamin A while taking bexarotene. If you take vitamins, check the label to see if it has vitamin A in it too. If it does or if you are not sure, check with your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Men with sexual partners who are pregnant, are possibly pregnant, or could become pregnant must use a condom while taking bexarotene and for at least 1 month after the last dose is taken.
  • Bexarotene may decrease the effectiveness of hormonal birth control (eg, birth control pills). If you use hormonal birth control as 1 of the 2 forms of birth control while taking bexarotene, be sure the other form is nonhormonal (eg, condoms, diaphragms, cervical caps, IUDs, spermicides). Discuss any questions or concerns with your doctor.
  • Diabetes patients - Bexarotene may affect the way your diabetes medicine works. Check blood sugar levels closely and ask your doctor before adjusting the dose of your diabetes medicine.
  • Lab tests, including complete blood cell counts, blood cholesterol and triglyceride levels, liver function tests, thyroid function tests, and eye exams, may be performed to monitor your progress or to check for side effects. Be sure to keep all doctor and lab appointments.
  • Bexarotene should be used with extreme caution in CHILDREN; safety and effectiveness in children have not been confirmed.
  • PREGNANCY and BREAST-FEEDING: Do not use bexarotene if you are pregnant. You must have a negative pregnancy test within 1 week of starting bexarotene. You will be required to take a pregnancy test every month while you are taking bexarotene. You must either abstain from sexual intercourse or use 2 effective methods of birth control for 1 month before taking bexarotene, while you take bexarotene, and for at least 1 month after your last dose. If you suspect that you could be pregnant, contact your doctor immediately. Discuss with your doctor effective birth control options that are available. It is unknown if bexarotene is found in breast milk. Do not breast-feed while taking bexarotene.

Possible side effects of bexarotene:

All medicines may cause side effects, but many people have no, or minor, side effects. Check with your doctor if any of these most COMMON side effects persist or become bothersome:

Diarrhea; dizziness; dry skin; headache; loss of appetite; mild stomach pain; nausea; trouble sleeping; weakness.

Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur:

Severe allergic reactions (rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue); bloating or swelling of ankles, feet, or hands; burning, numbness, or tingling; changes in vision; chest pain; chills; confusion; dark urine or pale stools; depression; fainting; fast heartbeat; feeling unusually cold all the time; fever; muscle spasms; one-sided weakness; persistent sore throat; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin; severe or persistent headache or dizziness; severe or persistent nausea or vomiting; severe stomach or back pain with shortness of breath; slurred speech; unusual bruising or bleeding; unusual tiredness or weakness; yellowing of the skin or eyes.

This is not a complete list of all side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, contact your health care provider. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. To report side effects to the appropriate agency, please read the Guide to Reporting Problems to FDA.

If OVERDOSE is suspected:

Contact 1-800-222-1222 (the American Association of Poison Control Centers), your local poison control center, or emergency room immediately.

Proper storage of bexarotene:

Store bexarotene between 36 and 77 degrees F (2 and 25 degrees C). Do not freeze. Store away from excessive heat, moisture, and light. Do not store in the bathroom. Do not use bexarotene if the expiration date on the bottle has passed. Keep bexarotene out of the reach of children and away from pets.

General information:

  • If you have any questions about bexarotene, please talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
  • Bexarotene is to be used only by the patient for whom it is prescribed. Do not share it with other people.
  • If your symptoms do not improve or if they become worse, check with your doctor.
  • Check with your pharmacist about how to dispose of unused medicine.

This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take bexarotene or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about bexarotene. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to bexarotene. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using bexarotene.

Issue Date: April 2, 2014
Database Edition 14.2.1.001
Copyright © 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health, Inc.

Disclaimer: This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take this medicine or any other medicine. Only your health care provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for you. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to this medicine. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from your health care provider. You must talk with your healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.

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