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Generic name: crizotinib
Brand name: Xalkori
Dosage form: oral capsule
Drug class: Multikinase inhibitors

Medically reviewed by Nicole France, BPharm. Last updated on Apr 12, 2022.

What is crizotinib?

Crizotinib is a type of cancer drug called a kinase inhibitor that is used to treat two rare forms of cancer.

Crizotinib is used to treat a type of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in people with an error in genes called ROS1 or ALK (anaplastic lymphoma kinase). An ROS1 error occurs in about 1 percent of people with NSCLC, while and ALK error occurs in about 5 percent of cases.

Defects in ROS1 and ALK cause cells to grow out of control causing cancer. Crizotinib works to help stop or slow the growth of cancer. It does this by blocking the action of ROS1 and ALK. It is known as a ROS1 tyrosine kinase inhibitor and an ALK tyrosine kinase inhibitor.

When Crizotinib was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 2011, it was the first therapy to be approved for patients with ROS1-positive NSCLC.

Crizotinib is also used to treat a rare form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) in children and young adults called anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL) that has a defect in the ALK gene. About 90 percent of cases of ALCL in young people are ALK-positive.

What is crizotinib used for?

Crizotinib is a prescription medicine that is used to treat:

  • people with NSCLC that has spread to other parts of the body and is caused by a defect in either a gene called ALK (anaplastic lymphoma kinase) or a gene called ROS1.
  • children 1 year of age and older and young adults when your ALCL with a defect in a gene called ALK has returned, or you have tried a treatment and it did not work or is no longer working.

It is not known if crizotinib is safe and effective in children under 12 months of age or in older adults with ALCL.

Important information

Crizotinib may cause serious side effects, including:

  • Liver problems. Crizotinib may cause life-threatening liver injury that may lead to death. Your healthcare provider should do blood tests to check your liver every 2 weeks during the first 2 months of treatment with crizotinib, then once a month and as recommended by your healthcare provider during treatment. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you develop any of the following new or worsening symptoms:
    • yellowing of your skin or the white part of your eyes
    • severe tiredness
    • dark or brown (tea color) urine
    • nausea or vomiting
    • decreased appetite
    • pain on the right side of your stomach
    • bleed or bruise more easily than normal
    • itching
  • Lung problems (pneumonitis). Crizotinib may cause life-threatening lung problems that may lead to death. Symptoms may be similar to those symptoms from lung cancer. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any new or worsening symptoms, including:
    • trouble breathing or shortness of breath
    • cough with or without mucous
    • fever
  • Heart problems. Crizotinib may cause very slow, very fast, or abnormal heartbeats. Your healthcare provider may check your pulse rate and blood pressure regularly during treatment with crizotinib. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you feel dizzy or faint or have abnormal heartbeats. Tell your healthcare provider if you take any heart or blood pressure medicines.
  • Severe vision problems. Vision problems are common with crizotinib. These problems usually happen within 1 week of starting treatment with crizotinib. Vision problems with crizotinib can be severe and may cause partial or complete loss of vision in one or both eyes. Your healthcare provider may hold or permanently stop your treatment with crizotinib and refer you to an eye specialist if any vision problems develop during treatment with crizotinib. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have any new vision problems, loss of vision or any change in vision, including:
    • double vision
    • seeing flashes of light
    • blurry vision
    • light hurting your eyes
    • new or increased floaters

      In addition, for people taking crizotinib to treat anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL): Your healthcare provider may refer you to an eye specialist before starting crizotinib, and within 1 month of starting crizotinib to check for vision problems. You should have an eye examination every 3 months during treatment with crizotinib and more often if there are any new vision problems.
  • Severe stomach, intestine, and mouth (gastrointestinal) problems in people with ALCL. Crizotinib may cause severe diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or mouth sores. Tell your healthcare provider right away if problems with swallowing, vomiting, or diarrhea develop during treatment with crizotinib.
    • Your healthcare provider may give medicines as needed to prevent or treat diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.
    • Your healthcare provider may recommend drinking more fluids or may prescribe electrolyte supplements or other kinds of nutritional support if severe symptoms develop.

See "What are the side effects of crizotinib?" below for more information about side effects.

What should I tell my doctor before taking crizotinib?

Before taking crizotinib, tell your healthcare provider about all of your medical conditions, including if you:

  • have liver or kidney problems
  • have lung problems
  • have heart problems, including a condition called long QT syndrome
  • have vision or eye problems

How should I take crizotinib?

  • Crizotinib should be taken exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider.
  • Crizotinib capsules should be swallowed whole.
  • Crizotinib may be taken with or without food.
  • Your healthcare provider may change your dose, temporarily stop, or permanently stop treatment with crizotinib if you have certain side effects. Do not change the dose or stop treatment with crizotinib unless your healthcare provider tells you to.
  • If you vomit after taking a dose of crizotinib, do not take an extra dose. The next dose should be taken at the regular time.
  • Crizotinib should be given to children under adult supervision.

What should I avoid while taking crizotinib?

  • Do not drink grapefruit juice, eat grapefruit or take supplements containing grapefruit extract during treatment with crizotinib. These may increase the amount of crizotinib in the blood.
  • Crizotinib can cause changes in vision, dizziness, and tiredness. Do not drive or operate machinery if you have any of these symptoms.
  • Avoid spending prolonged time in sunlight. Crizotinib can make your skin sensitive to the sun (photosensitivity), and you may burn more easily. You should use sunscreen and wear protective clothing that covers your skin to help protect against sunburn if you have to be in the sunlight during treatment with crizotinib.

What happens if I miss a dose?

If a dose of crizotinib is missed, it should be taken as soon as you remember. If it is close to the time of the next dose (within 6 hours), the missed dose should be skipped, and the next dose should be taken at the regular time.

Dosing information

  • In patients with metastatic (cancer that has spread) NSCLC the recommended dosage of crizotinib is 250 mg orally twice daily.
  • In patients with systemic ALCL the he recommended dosage. of crizotinib is 280 mg/m2 orally twice daily based on body surface area.
  • See full prescribing information for dosage adjustments by indication for patients with moderate or severe hepatic impairment or severe renal impairment.

What are the side effects of crizotinib?

Crizotinib may cause serious side effects, including:

  • See "Important information"

The most common side effects of crizotinib in people with NSCLC include:

  • vision problems
  • nausea, diarrhea, or vomiting
  • swelling of your hands, feet, face, and eyes
  • constipation
  • increased liver function blood tests
  • tiredness
  • decreased appetite
  • upper respiratory infection
  • dizziness
  • feeling of numbness or tingling in your arms or legs

The most common side effects of crizotinib in people with ALCL include:

  • diarrhea, vomiting, or nausea
  • vision problems
  • headache
  • muscle and joint pain
  • mouth sores
  • tiredness
  • decreased appetite
  • fever
  • stomach-area (abdominal) pain
  • cough
  • itchy skin
  • low blood counts
  • abnormal liver tests
  • low levels of electrolytes
  • abnormal kidney tests
  • low and high blood sugar levels

Crizotinib may cause fertility problems in females and males, which may affect the ability to have children. Talk to your healthcare provider if you have concerns about fertility.

These are not all of the possible side effects of crizotinib. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.


Tell your healthcare provider about the medicines you take, including prescription medicines, over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant, or plan to become pregnant. Crizotinib can harm the unborn baby.

Females who are able to become pregnant:

  • Your healthcare provider will check to see if you are pregnant before starting treatment with crizotinib.
  • Effective birth control (contraception) should be used during treatment with crizotinib and for at least 45 days after the final dose of crizotinib.
  • Tell your healthcare provider right away if you become pregnant or think you might be pregnant during treatment with crizotinib.

Males who have female partners who can become pregnant:

  • You should use condoms during treatment with crizotinib and for at least 90 days after the final dose of crizotinib.

Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if crizotinib passes into the breast milk. Do not breastfeed during treatment with crizotinib and for 45 days after the final dose. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best way to feed the baby during this time.


  • Store crizotinib at room temperature between 68°F to 77°F (20°C to 25°C).

Keep crizotinib and all medicines out of the reach of children.

What are the ingredients in crizotinib?

Active ingredient: crizotinib

Inactive ingredients: colloidal silicon dioxide, microcrystalline cellulose, anhydrous dibasic calcium phosphate, sodium starch glycolate, and magnesium stearate.

Pink opaque capsule shell contains: gelatin, titanium dioxide, and red iron oxide.

White opaque capsule shell contains: gelatin and titanium dioxide.

Printing ink contains: shellac, propylene glycol, strong ammonia solution, potassium hydroxide, and black iron oxide.

Crizotinib is distributed under the brandname Xalkori by Pfizer Labs, Division of Pfizer Inc, NY, NY 10017.

Popular FAQ

Xalkori is pronounced “zal-KOR-ee”. Continue reading

We can estimate that Xalkori starts to work within approximately 2 months from graphs plotting progression-free survival, but most trials report on how long Xalkori keeps a person’s cancer from getting worse not how quickly it works. This is called progression-free survival. Continue reading

Xalkori treats two types of cancers with genetic mutations: non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and anaplastic large cell lymphoma (ALCL), a type of blood cancer. Continue reading

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.