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.
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).
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:
underactive thyroid, recent or upcoming thyroid surgery;
heart disease, congestive heart failure;
history of stomach ulcer or bleeding; or
if you are receiving chemotherapy.
FDA pregnancy category D. Do not use Gleevec if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby. Use effective birth control, and tell your doctor if you become pregnant during treatment.
See also: Gleevec pregnancy and breastfeeding warnings (in more detail)
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.
Do not give this medication to anyone under 1 year old without medical advice.
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.
Take this medicine with a large glass of water.
You may dissolve the Gleevec tablet in water or apple juice to make swallowing easier.
Gleevec should be taken with a meal. Do not take Gleevec on an empty stomach.
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.
Store Gleevec 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?
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, semen, vaginal fluid). For at least 48 hours after you receive a dose, avoid allowing your body fluids to come into contact with your hands or other surfaces. 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.
Body fluids should not be handled by a woman who is pregnant or who may become pregnant. Use condoms during sexual activity to avoid exposure to body fluids.
Grapefruit and grapefruit juice may interact with Gleevec and lead to potentially dangerous effects. Avoid the use of grapefruit products while taking this medicine.
Gleevec side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these 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:
fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms;
easy bruising, unusual bleeding (nose, mouth, vagina, or rectum), purple or red pinpoint spots under your skin;
swelling, rapid weight gain, feeling short of breath (even with mild exertion);
nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes);
bloody or tarry stools, coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds;
lower back pain, blood in your urine, little or no urinating;
numbness or tingly feeling around your mouth;
muscle weakness, tightness, or contraction, overactive reflexes;
fast or slow heart rate, weak pulse, confusion, fainting; 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:
mild nausea or stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea;
joint or muscle pain; or
headache, 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: Gleevec side effects (in more detail)
What other drugs will affect Gleevec?
Many drugs can interact with Gleevec. 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:
St. John's wort;
an antibiotic--clarithromycin, ciprofloxacin, doxycycline, erythromycin, metronidazole, nafcillin, norfloxacin, rifabutin, rifampin, rifapentine, tetracycline;
antifungal medication--clotrimazole, fluconazole, itraconazole, ketoconazole, posaconazole, voriconazole;
an antidepressant--desipramine, nefazodone, sertraline;
a blood thinner such as warfarin, Coumadin;
heart or blood pressure medication--amiodarone, diltiazem, dronedarone, lidocaine, nicardipine, quinidine, verapamil;
hepatitis C medications--boceprevir, telaprevir;
HIV/AIDS medication--atazanavir, delavirdine, darunavir when given with ritonavir, efavirenz, fosamprenavir, indinavir, nelfinavir, nevirapine, ritonavir, saquinavir; or
seizure medication--carbamazepine, fosphenytoin, oxcarbazepine, phenobarbital, phenytoin, primidone.
This list is not complete and many other drugs can interact with Gleevec. 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.
Compare with other treatments for:
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.
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