Skip to Content

Generic Name: imatinib (im MA ta nib)
Brand Names: Gleevec

What is Gleevec?

Gleevec (imatinib) interferes with the growth of some cancer cells.

Gleevec is used to treat certain types of leukemia (blood cancer), bone marrow disorders, and skin cancer, or certain tumors of the stomach and digestive system.

Gleevec may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important information

Gleevec can lower blood cells that help your body fight infections and help your blood to clot. You may get an infection or bleed more easily. Call your doctor if you have unusual bruising or bleeding, or signs of infection (fever, chills, body aches).

Slideshow: Amoxicillin: 13 Burning Questions

Gleevec may increase the risk of liver problems. Tell your doctor if you have upper stomach pain, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).

Gleevec may increase the risk of fluid retention or heart problems. Tell your doctor if you have swelling or rapid weight gain, shortness of breath, fast or slow heart rate, weak pulse, or fainting.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use Gleevec if you are allergic to imatinib.

To make sure Gleevec is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • liver disease;

  • kidney disease;

  • underactive thyroid, recent or upcoming thyroid surgery;

  • heart disease, congestive heart failure;

  • history of stomach ulcer or bleeding; or

  • if you are receiving chemotherapy.

Do not use Gleevec if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby. Use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy, and tell your doctor if you become pregnant during treatment.

It is not known whether imatinib passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while using this medicine.

Gleevec can affect growth in children. Talk with your doctor if you think your child is not growing at a normal rate while using this medicine.

How should I take Gleevec?

Take Gleevec exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow all directions on your prescription label. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

Gleevec should be taken with a meal. Do not take it on an empty stomach.

Take Gleevec with a full glass of water.

You may dissolve the Gleevec tablet in water or apple juice to make swallowing easier.

Do not crush, chew, or break an Gleevec tablet. The medicine from a crushed or broken pill can be dangerous if it gets in your eyes, mouth, or nose, or on your skin. If this occurs, wash your skin with soap and water or rinse your eyes with water. Ask your doctor or pharmacist how to safely handle and dispose of a crushed or broken tablet.

Gleevec can lower blood cells that help your body fight infections and help your blood to clot. Your blood will need to be tested often. Your cancer treatments may be delayed based on the results of these tests.

You will also need frequent tests to check your liver function.

Do not stop using Gleevec without your doctor's advice.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember, making sure you also eat a meal and drink a large glass of water. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while taking Gleevec?

This medicine may cause blurred vision and may impair your thinking or reactions. Be careful if you drive or do anything that requires you to be alert and able to see clearly. Dizziness or severe drowsiness can cause falls, accidents, or severe injuries.

Grapefruit and grapefruit juice may interact with imatinib and lead to potentially dangerous effects. Avoid the use of grapefruit products while taking Gleevec.

Avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Tell your doctor at once if you develop signs of infection.

Avoid activities that may increase your risk of bleeding or injury. Use extra care to prevent bleeding while shaving or brushing your teeth.

Imatinib can pass into body fluids (including urine, feces, vomit). Patients and caregivers should wear rubber gloves while cleaning up body fluids, handling contaminated trash or laundry or changing diapers. Wash hands before and after removing gloves. Wash soiled clothing and linens separately from other laundry.

Gleevec side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have any signs of an allergic reaction to Gleevec: hives; difficulty breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • fluid retention - shortness of breath (even while lying down), swelling, rapid weight gain (especially in your face and midsection);

  • fluid build-up in the lungs - pain when you breathe, wheezing, gasping for breath, cough with foamy mucus;

  • liver problems - upper stomach pain, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes);

  • low blood cell counts - fever, chills, flu-like symptoms, swollen gums, mouth sores, skin sores, rapid heart rate, pale skin, easy bruising, unusual bleeding, feeling light-headed;

  • signs of stomach bleeding - bloody or tarry stools, coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds;

  • signs of tumor cell breakdown - lower back pain, blood in your urine, little or no urinating; numbness or tingly feeling around your mouth; muscle weakness or tightness; fast or slow heart rate, weak pulse; confusion, fainting;

  • thyroid symptoms - extreme tired feeling, dry skin, joint pain or stiffness, muscle pain or weakness, hoarse voice, feeling more sensitive to cold temperatures; or

  • severe skin reaction - fever, sore throat, swelling in your face or tongue, burning in your eyes, skin pain, followed by a red or purple skin rash that spreads (especially in the face or upper body) and causes blistering and peeling.

Common Gleevec side effects may include:

  • nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea;

  • joint or muscle pain;

  • skin rash; or

  • feeling tired.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

See also: Side effects (in more detail)

What other drugs will affect Gleevec?

Many drugs can interact with imatinib. Not all possible interactions are listed here. Tell your doctor about all your medications and any you start or stop using during treatment with Gleevec, especially:

  • bosentan;

  • dihydroergotamine or ergotamine;

  • fentanyl (Abstral, Actiq, Fentora, Duragesic, Lazanda, Onsolis);

  • nefazodone;

  • pimozide;

  • St. John's wort;

  • an antibiotic - clarithromycin, erythromycin, telithromycin;

  • antifungal medicine - itraconazole, ketoconazole, posaconazole, voriconazole;

  • antiviral medicine to treat hepatitis C or HIV/AIDS - atazanavir, boceprevir, cobicistat (Stribild, Tybost), delavirdine, efavirenz, fosamprenavir, indinavir, nelfinavir, nevirapine, ritonavir, saquinavir, telaprevir;

  • a blood thinner - warfarin, Coumadin, Jantoven;

  • heart medicine - nicardipine, quinidine;

  • medicine to prevent organ transplant rejection - cyclosporine, sirolimus, tacrolimus;

  • seizure medication - carbamazepine, fosphenytoin, oxcarbazepine, phenobarbital, phenytoin, primidone; or

  • tuberculosis medication - isoniazid, rifabutin, rifampin, rifapentine.

This list is not complete and many other drugs can interact with imatinib. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Give a list of all your medicines to any healthcare provider who treats you.

Where can I get more information?

  • Your pharmacist can provide more information about Gleevec.
  • Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use Gleevec only for the indication prescribed.
  • Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. If you have questions about the drugs you are taking, check with your doctor, nurse or pharmacist.

Copyright 1996-2015 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 11.05. Revision Date: 2015-07-10, 1:39:42 PM.

Hide