Skip to main content


Generic name: cladribine (oral) [ KLAD-ri-been ]
Brand name: Mavenclad
Dosage form: oral tablet (10 mg)
Drug class: Antimetabolites

Medically reviewed by on Oct 7, 2022. Written by Cerner Multum.

What is cladribine?

Cladribine is used to treat relapsing multiple sclerosis (MS) in adults. cladribine will not cure MS, it will only decrease the frequency of relapse symptoms.

Cladribine is usually given after other treatments have failed.

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

Cladribine side effects

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

Cladribine may cause a serious brain infection that can lead to disability or death. Call your doctor right away if you have problems with speech, thought, vision, or muscle movement. These symptoms may start gradually and get worse quickly.

Also call your doctor at once if you have:

Common side effects of cladribine may include:

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.


Do not take cladribine if you are pregnant. Both men and women should use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy while taking cladribine, and for 6 months after the last dose.

If you use birth control pills or other hormonal forms (implants, skin patches, vaginal rings), also use a barrier form of birth control (condom, diaphragm, cervical cap, contraceptive sponge) to prevent pregnancy while taking cladribine and for at least 4 weeks after your treatment course ends.

Taking cladribine may increase your risk of developing certain cancers.

Before taking this medicine

You should not take cladribine if you are allergic to it, or if you have:

Tell your doctor if you have ever had:

Tell your doctor if you have recently received a vaccine (within 4 to 6 weeks before you take cladribine).

Taking cladribine may increase your risk of developing certain cancers. Ask your doctor about this risk.

Do not take cladribine if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby. Use effective birth control, and tell your doctor if you become pregnant during treatment.

Cladribine can make hormonal birth control less effective, including birth control pills, injections, implants, skin patches, and vaginal rings. To prevent pregnancy while taking cladribine, use a barrier form of birth control: condom, diaphragm, cervical cap, or contraceptive sponge. Keep using the second form of birth control for at least 4 weeks after your cladribine treatment course ends.

Do not breastfeed while taking cladribine, and for at least 10 days after your last dose.

How should I take cladribine?

Your doctor will perform medical tests to make sure you do not have conditions that would prevent you from safely using cladribine.

Follow all directions on your prescription label and read all medication guides or instruction sheets. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose. Use the medicine exactly as directed.

Cladribine is taken in 2 treatment courses separated by about a year. There are 2 treatment cycles in each course. During each cycle, you will take the medicine for 4 or 5 days in a row. The 2 cycles are separated by about a month. Follow your doctor's dosing instructions very carefully.

Your doctor will determine how many treatment courses you should receive.

Take this medicine with a full glass of water. You may take cladribine with or without food.

Use dry hands to remove a tablet from the foil blister pack when you are ready to take the medicine.

Swallow the tablet whole and do not crush, chew, or break it.

Wash your hands after handling the tablet.

Do not use a broken tablet. The medicine from a broken pill can be dangerous if it gets in your eyes or nose, or on your skin. If this happens, rinse thoroughly with water. Ask your pharmacist how to safely dispose of a broken pill.

You may be given other medications to help prevent infections. Keep using these medicines for as long as your doctor has prescribed.

You will need frequent medical tests, and your next dose may be delayed based on the results.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

Cladribine can have long lasting effects on your body. Your doctor will need to check your progress on a regular basis and for another 2 years after your last dose.

Cladribine dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Hairy Cell Leukemia:

0.09 mg/kg/day by continuous IV infusion for 7 days

Alternate dosing recommendation:
-Subcutaneous bolus injection: 0.14 mg/kg/day subcutaneously for 5 consecutive days
-IV infusion: 0.1 mg/kg/day IV for 7 consecutive days
-Under certain hematological conditions (e.g., recovery of severe myelosuppression) a small number of patients may require a second cycle and occasionally a third cycle to achieve a stable and prolonged response.

-Physicians should consider delaying or discontinuing therapy if neurotoxicity or renal toxicity occurs.
-Consult the individual manufacturer product information for dosing recommendations.

Use: For the primary or secondary treatment of patients with Hairy Cell Leukemia (HCL)

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose on the same day you remember it. If the day is almost over before you remember your dose, wait until the next day to take it.

Do not take 2 doses in one day. Take your next dose at the regular time and stay on your once-daily schedule, even if it adds an extra day to your treatment cycle for the week.

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 cladribine?

Do not receive a "live" vaccine while using cladribine. You could develop a serious infection. Live vaccines include measles, mumps, rubella (MMR), rotavirus, typhoid, yellow fever, varicella (chickenpox), zoster (shingles), and nasal flu (influenza) vaccine. Your doctor will determine when it is safe for you to receive a vaccine.

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

What other drugs will affect cladribine?

If you take any other medicines by mouth, take your cladribine dose 3 hours before or 3 hours after you take the other medicine.

Other drugs may affect cladribine, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any medicine you start or stop using.

Popular FAQ

Over 96 weeks, 81% of patients who took Mavenclad were relapse-free compared to 63% of those who took a placebo. Mavenclad also decreased 3-month progression of disability due to MS when compared to a placebo. Continue reading

No, Mavenclad is not a chemotherapy (cancer) drug. It is an oral purine antimetabolite approved for the treatment of relapsing forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), to include relapsing-remitting disease and active secondary progressive disease, in adults. Mavenclad tablets are taken by mouth and are given as two yearly treatment courses. Continue reading

Hair loss (alopecia) is an infrequent side effect with Mavenclad. In clinical studies, hair loss occurred in 3% (3 out of every 100) of patients treated with Mavanclad (generic name: cladribine) compared to 1% of patients receiving a placebo (inactive) treatment. Continue reading

Weight gain has not been reported as a side effect with Mavenclad (generic name: cladribine), an oral medicine used for multiple sclerosis (MS). The most common side effects reported with Mavenclad include upper respiratory tract infections, headache and a decrease in white blood cells. Continue reading

More FAQ

View more FAQ

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

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