Skip to main content

What to avoid when taking Gleevec?

Medically reviewed by Leigh Ann Anderson, PharmD. Last updated on Feb 16, 2024.

Official answer


When you are taking Gleevec (imatinib), you should avoid the following:

  • Avoid pregnancy; do not become pregnant while taking Gleevec.
  • Do not take Gleevec on an empty stomach. Take each dose with a meal and a large glass of water.
  • Avoid driving, operating machinery, or other hazardous activities until you know how this medicine will affect you. Gleevec can cause dizziness, blurred vision and may impair your reactions. Dizziness or severe drowsiness may cause you to fall, have an accident, or lead to severe injuries. Use caution if you are driving a car or operating machinery.
  • Avoid eating or drinking grapefruit or grapefruit juice and other foods known to inhibit the CYP3A4 enzyme while you are taking Gleevec. If you have been regularly consuming grapefruit with Gleevec, ask your doctor if you should stop grapefruit consumption as this may also change levels of your medicine.
  • Avoid certain drugs that may causes interactions with Gleevec, such as some antibiotics, iron products with iron, or some blood thinners like warfarin. Not all possible drug interactions are listed here. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist about drug and food interactions with Gleevec.
  • Avoid being near people who are sick or have infections, as your immune system may be weakened. Call your doctor at once if you develop signs of an infection (for example, a fever).

If you are taking Gleevec (imatinib), you should become very familiar with its use. Talk to your doctor about warnings, side effects, use in pregnancy, possible drug interactions and other important patient information for Gleevec. Read all of the information, including what your doctor gives you, and ask them any questions about treatment with this medicine.

Before you start treatment with Gleevec, tell your doctor about pre-existing kidney impairment, diabetes, high blood pressure, and congestive heart failure.

Gleevec, known generically as imatinib, works by slowing or stopping the growth of certain cancer cells. Gleevec is in a drug class called tyrosine kinase inhibitors and is known as a targeted drug therapy.

This is not a full list of what you may need to avoid. Speak to your doctor or other healthcare provider about how you should take Gleevec and what to avoid.

Should I avoid any food or other medicines with Gleevec?

It may not be safe to use certain prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) medications, vitamins, herbal products or some foods with Gleevec. These products may affect blood levels of Gleevec or your other medicines. This may increase side effects or make your medications less effective.

Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all your current medicines. Many medicines can interact with Gleevec (imatinib), including:

  • some antibiotics (including erythromycin), antifungals, or antiviral medicines
  • certain seizure medicines (including phenytoin)
  • a blood thinner such as warfarin (brand names include Coumadin, Jantoven)
  • a vitamin or mineral supplement that contains iron

Grapefruit and grapefruit juice may interact with Gleevec (imatinib), increase blood levels of imatinib, and lead to unwanted side effects. Avoid the use of grapefruit products while taking Gleevec. If you have already been regularly consuming grapefruit with Gleevec, ask your doctor if you should stop grapefruit consumption as it may affect levels of Gleevec in your blood.

This list is not complete and many other drugs interact with Gleevec (imatinib). This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

Related questions

Are there special precautions when taking my dose of Gleevec?

Do not stop using Gleevec or change your dose unless they are told to do so by your doctor. Your doctor may decide to continue your treatment as long as there is no evidence of your disease worsening or intolerable side effects.

All doses of Gleevec should be taken with a meal and a large glass of water. Do not take Gleevec on an empty stomach. Gleevec is sometimes associated with digestive tract irritation or more serious stomach problems.

Do not crush or break your Gleevec tablets. Avoid exposure to crushed tablets. Avoid direct contact of crushed tablets with your skin or mucous membranes. If such contact occurs, wash your skin thoroughly as directed. If you are not sure what to do, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

If you miss a dose of Gleevec, take your next scheduled dose at its regular time, making sure you also eat a meal and drink a large glass of water. Do not take two doses at the same time.

Contact your doctor immediately if:

  • you develop signs of liver failure, which may include jaundice, anorexia (loss of appetite), bleeding, or bruising.
  • unexpected rapid weight gain occurs, which may be due to edema and fluid retention.

Is Gleevec safe in pregnancy?

Do NOT use Gleevec if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby or cause birth defects. Use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy while you are using Gleevec and for at least 14 days after your last dose. Use a birth control method that results in a less than 1% pregnancy rate. Talk to your doctor for further advice about the most effective birth control options for you.

If you are planning a pregnancy, talk to your doctor before starting treatment. Do not become pregnant while you are taking Gleevec.

You may need to have a negative pregnancy test before starting this treatment. Tell your doctor right away if you are pregnant or think you may be pregnant.

Do not breast-feed a baby while you are using Gleevec and for at least 1 month after your last dose.

This is not all the information you need to know about Gleevec (imatinib) for safe and effective use and does not take the place of talking to your doctor about your treatment. Review the full Gleevec (imatinib) information here, and discuss this information and any questions you have with your doctor or other health care provider.


Read next

Related medical questions

Drug information

Related support groups