Generic Name: imatinib (im MA ta nib)
Brand Name: Gleevec
Medically reviewed: September 26, 2017
What is imatinib?
Imatinib interferes with the growth of some cancer cells.
Imatinib may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
Follow all directions on your medicine label and package. Tell each of your healthcare providers about all your medical conditions, allergies, and all medicines you use.
Before taking this medicine
You should not use imatinib if you are allergic to it.
To make sure imatinib is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:
heart disease, congestive heart failure;
a stomach ulcer or bleeding;
Do not use imatinib 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 this medicine and for at least 14 days after your last dose.
You may need to have a negative pregnancy test before starting this treatment.
Imatinib can pass into breast milk and may cause side effects in the nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while taking imatinib and for at least 1 month after your last dose.
How should I take imatinib?
Follow all directions on your prescription label. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.
Imatinib should be taken with a meal and a large glass of water. Do not take imatinib on an empty stomach.
You may dissolve an imatinib tablet in a glass of water or apple juice to make the pill easier to swallow. Be sure to use the correct number of tablets to get an entire dose. Use about 2 ounces of liquid for each 100-milligram tablet, or 7 ounces of liquid for each 400-milligram tablet. Stir the mixture and drink all of it right away.
Do not crush, chew, or break an imatinib 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.
Imatinib 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 imatinib 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 imatinib?
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.
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.
This medicine can pass into body fluids (urine, feces, vomit). Caregivers should wear rubber gloves while cleaning up a patient's 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.
Imatinib side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction (hives, difficult breathing, swelling in your face or throat) or a severe skin reaction (fever, sore throat, burning in your eyes, skin pain, red or purple skin rash that spreads and causes blistering and peeling).
Call your doctor at once if you have:
fluid build-up in the lungs--pain when you breathe, wheezing, gasping for breath, cough with foamy mucus;
liver problems--upper stomach pain, loss of appetite, dark urine, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes);
low blood cell counts--fever, cold or flu symptoms, easy bruising, unusual bleeding, mouth sores, pale skin, unusual tiredness, feeling light-headed, cold hands and feet;
signs of stomach bleeding--bloody or tarry stools, coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds;
Imatinib can affect growth in children and teenagers. Tell your doctor if your child is not growing at a normal rate while using this medicine.
Common side effects may include:
nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, diarrhea;
joint or muscle pain;
skin rash; or
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 imatinib?
Sometimes it is not safe to use certain medications at the same time. Some drugs can affect your blood levels of other drugs you take, which may increase side effects or make the medications less effective.
Many drugs can interact with imatinib. Not all possible interactions are listed here. Tell your doctor about all your current medicines and any you start or stop using, especially:
an antibiotic, antifungal, or antiviral medicine;
a vitamin or mineral supplement that contains iron.
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.
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.
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