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Vemurafenib Side Effects

In Summary

Commonly reported side effects of vemurafenib include: squamous cell carcinoma, keratoacanthoma, skin photosensitivity, and erythema. See below for a comprehensive list of adverse effects.

For the Consumer

Applies to vemurafenib: oral tablet

As well as its needed effects, vemurafenib may cause unwanted side effects that require medical attention.

Major Side Effects

If any of the following side effects occur while taking vemurafenib, check with your doctor immediately:

More common:
  • Blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin
  • bloating or swelling of the face, arms, hands, lower legs, or feet
  • bloody urine
  • blurred vision or other change in vision
  • chills
  • cough
  • decreased frequency or amount of urine
  • diarrhea
  • dizziness
  • eye pain
  • fainting
  • fast or irregular heartbeat
  • fever
  • increased sensitivity of the skin to sunlight
  • increased thirst
  • itching or skin rash
  • joint or muscle pain
  • loss of appetite
  • lower back or side pain
  • lump or growth on the skin
  • nausea or vomiting
  • pain in the ankles or knees
  • painful, red lumps under the skin, mostly on the legs
  • paralysis of the nerves
  • rapid weight gain
  • rash with flat lesions or small raised lesions on the skin
  • red skin lesions, often with a purple center
  • red, irritated eyes
  • redness or other discoloration of the skin
  • redness, soreness, swelling, or itching skin
  • scaling of the skin on the hands and feet
  • sensitivity of the eye to light
  • severe sunburn
  • sore throat
  • sores, ulcers, or white spots in the mouth or on the lips
  • sores, welting, or blisters
  • tearing
  • tingling of the hands and feet
  • tiredness
  • trouble breathing
  • ulceration of the skin
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • unusual weight gain or loss
  • weight gain

Minor Side Effects

Some vemurafenib side effects may not need any medical attention. As your body gets used to the medicine these side effects may disappear. Your health care professional may be able to help you prevent or reduce these side effects, but do check with them if any of the following side effects continue, or if you are concerned about them:

More common:
  • Back or bone pain
  • burning, itching, and pain in the hairy areas, or pus at the root of the hair
  • change in taste
  • cough
  • decreased appetite
  • decreased weight
  • diarrhea
  • difficulty having a bowel movement (stool)
  • difficulty with moving
  • dry skin
  • hair loss or thinning of the hair
  • headache
  • lack or loss of strength
  • loss of taste
  • muscle stiffness
  • nausea
  • pain in the arms or legs
  • rash
  • sunburn
  • vomiting

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to vemurafenib: oral tablet


Very common (10% or more): Skin papilloma (up to 30%), cutaneous SCC (24%), seborrheic keratosis (up to 14%)
Common (1% to 10%): Basal cell carcinoma, oropharyngeal squamous cell carcinoma
Postmarketing reports: Progression of a preexisting-existing chronic myelomonocytic leukemia with NRAS mutation[Ref]


Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Atrial fibrillation, vasculitis[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Hepatic laboratory abnormalities (GGT, AST, ALT, alkaline phosphatase, bilirubin) (up to 11.5%)[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Cough[Ref]


The most common side effects reported were arthralgia, rash, alopecia, fatigue, photosensitivity reaction, nausea, pruritus, and skin papilloma.[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Rash (up to 52%), photosensitivity (up to 49 %), alopecia (up to 45%), pruritus (up to 30%), hyperkeratosis (up to 28%), dry skin (up to 19%), erythema (up to 14%), sunburn (up to 14%)
Common (1% to 10%): Maculo-papular rash, actinic keratosis, papular rash, palmar-plantar erythrodysesthesia syndrome, keratosis pilaris, erythema nodosum, folliculitis
Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Stevens-Johnson syndrome, toxic epidermal necrolysis
Postmarketing reports: DRESS syndrome[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Nausea (up to 37%), diarrhea (up to 29%), vomiting (up to 26%), constipation (up to 16%)[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Decreased appetite (up to 21%)[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Arthralgia (Up to 67%), myalgia (up to 24%), pain in extremity (up to 18%)
Common (1% to 10%): Musculoskeletal pain, back pain, arthritis
Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): VIIth nerve paralysis[Ref]

Nervous system

Very common (10% or more): Headache (up to 27%), dysgeusia (up to 14%)
Common (1% to 10%): Dizziness, peripheral neuropathy[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Fatigue (up to 54%), peripheral edema (up to 23%), pyrexia (up to 19%), asthenia (up to 11%)[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Uveitis
Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Retinal vein occlusion[Ref]


1. "Product Information. Zelboraf (vemurafenib)." Genentech, South San Francisco, CA.

It is possible that some side effects of vemurafenib may not have been reported. These can be reported to the FDA here. Always consult a healthcare professional for medical advice.

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