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Vesanoid Side Effects

Generic name: tretinoin

Medically reviewed by Last updated on Jan 30, 2024.

Note: This document contains side effect information about tretinoin. Some dosage forms listed on this page may not apply to the brand name Vesanoid.

Applies to tretinoin: oral capsule liquid filled.


Oral route (Capsule, Liquid Filled)

Patients with acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL) can have severe adverse reactions to tretinoin. Tretinoin should therefore be administered only to patients with APL under the strict supervision of a physician who is experienced in the management of patients with acute leukemia and in a facility with laboratory and supportive services sufficient to monitor drug tolerance and protect and maintain a patient compromised by drug toxicity, including respiratory compromise. Use of tretinoin requires a favorable risk benefit profile.Retinoic Acid-APL Syndrome: Patients treated with tretinoin have experienced retinoic acid-APL (RA-APL) syndrome characterized by fever, dyspnea, acute respiratory distress, weight gain, radiographic pulmonary infiltrates, pleural and pericardial effusions, edema, and hepatic, renal, and multi-organ failure. RA-APL has been accompanied by impaired myocardial contractility and episodic hypotension. It has been observed with or without concomitant leukocytosis. Endotracheal intubation and mechanical ventilation have been required in some cases due to progressive hypoxemia, and several patients have expired with multi-organ failure. RA-APL may occur during the first month of treatment, with some cases reported following the first dose of tretinoin. High-dose steroids given at the first suspicion of the RA-APL syndrome appear to reduce morbidity and mortality. At the first signs of RA-APL (unexplained fever, dyspnea and/or weight gain, abnormal chest auscultatory findings or radiographic abnormalities), high-dose steroids (dexamethasone 10 mg IV administered every 12 hours for 3 days or until the resolution of symptoms) should be immediately initiated, irrespective of the leukocyte count. The majority of patients do not require termination of tretinoin therapy during treatment of the RA-APL syndrome. However, in cases of moderate and severe RA-APL, consider temporary interruption of therapy.Leukocytosis at Presentation and Rapidly Evolving Leukocytosis During Tretinoin Treatment: Rapidly evolving leukocytosis may occur with therapy. Patients who present with high WBC at diagnosis (greater than 5x10(9)/L) have an increased risk of a further rapid increase in WBC counts. Rapidly evolving leukocytosis is associated with a higher risk of life-threatening complications. If signs and symptoms of the RA-APL syndrome are present together with leukocytosis, treatment with high-dose steroids should be initiated immediately. Some investigators routinely add chemotherapy to tretinoin treatment in the case of patients presenting with a WBC count of greater than 5x10(9)/L or in the case of a rapid increase in WBC count for patients leukopenic at start of treatment, and have reported a lower incidence of the RA-APL syndrome. Consideration could be given to adding full-dose chemotherapy (including an anthracycline if not contraindicated) to the tretinoin therapy on day 1 or 2 for patients presenting with a WBC count of greater than 5x10(9)/L, or immediately, for patients presenting with a WBC count of less than 5x10(9)/L, if the WBC count reaches greater than or equal to 6x10(9)/L by day 5, or greater than or equal to 10x10(9)/L by day 10, or greater than or equal to 15x10(9)/L by day 28.Teratogenic Effects. There is a high risk that a severely deformed infant will result if tretinoin is administered during pregnancy. If, nonetheless, it is determined that tretinoin represents the best available treatment for a pregnant woman or a woman of childbearing potential, it must be assured that the patient has received full information and warnings of the risk to the fetus if she were to be pregnant and of the risk of possible contraception failure and has been instructed in the need to use two reliable forms of contraception simultaneously during therapy and for 1 month following discontinuation of therapy, and has acknowledged her understanding of the need for using dual contraception, unless abstinence in the chosen method. Within 1 week prior to the institution of tretinoin therapy, the patient should have blood or urine collected for a serum or urine pregnancy test with a sensitivity of at least 50 million international units/mL. When possible, tretinoin therapy should be delayed until a negative result from this test is obtained. When a delay is not possible, the patient should be placed on 2 reliable forms of contraception. Pregnancy testing and contraception counseling should be repeated monthly throughout treatment.

Serious side effects of Vesanoid

Along with its needed effects, tretinoin (the active ingredient contained in Vesanoid) may cause some unwanted effects. Although not all of these side effects may occur, if they do occur they may need medical attention.

Check with your doctor immediately if any of the following side effects occur while taking tretinoin:

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Less common

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur while taking tretinoin:

More common

Less common

Other side effects of Vesanoid

Some side effects of tretinoin may occur that usually do not need medical attention. These side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. Also, your health care professional may be able to tell you about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects.

Check with your health care professional if any of the following side effects continue or are bothersome or if you have any questions about them:

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Less common

For Healthcare Professionals

Applies to tretinoin: compounding powder, oral capsule.


-The most frequent undesirable effects of this drug are consistent with signs of hypervitaminosis A syndrome (as for other retinoids).

-APL patients treated with this drug may experience a potentially fatal syndrome characterized by fever, dyspnea, acute respiratory distress, weight gain, radiographic pulmonary infiltrates, pleural and pericardial effusions, edema, and hepatic, renal, and multi-organ failure. This syndrome is sometimes accompanied by impaired myocardial contractility and episodic hypotension with or without concomitant leukocytosis.[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Fever (83%), malaise (66%), peripheral edema (52%), earache/feeling of fullness in the ears (23%), edema (29%), shivering (63%), hearing impaired, chills, weakness, fatigue, chest pain

Common (1% to 10%): Face edema, hypothermia, hearing loss and other unspecified auricular disorders

Uncommon (0.1% to 1%): Irreversible hearing loss

Frequency not reported: Histamine level increased, teratogenicity[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Hemorrhage (60%), disseminated intravascular coagulation (26%)

Frequency not reported: Thrombocytosis, leukocytosis, basophilia[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Transaminases increased

Common (1% to 10%): Hepatosplenomegaly, hepatitis, unspecified liver disorder[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Skin/mucous membrane dryness (77%), rash (54%), pruritus (20%), increased sweating (20%), alopecia (14%), skin changes (14%), erythema, hyperhidrosis

Frequency not reported: Erythema nodosum, acute febrile neutrophilic dermatosis (Sweet's syndrome)[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Bone pain (77%), myalgia (14%)

Common (1% to 10%): Bone inflammation, flank pain

Frequency not reported: Myositis[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Nausea/vomiting (57%), GI hemorrhage (34%), abdominal pain (31%), mucositis (26%), diarrhea (23%), constipation (17%), dyspepsia (14%), abdominal distension (11%)

Common (1% to 10%): Ascites, ulcer

Frequency not reported: Organomegaly, pancreatitis[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Visual disturbances/ocular disorders (17%), conjunctival disorders

Common (1% to 10%): Changed visual acuity, visual field defects[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Injection site reactions (17%)[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Upper respiratory tract disorders (63%), dyspnea (60%), respiratory insufficiency (26%), pleural effusion (20%), pneumonia (14%), rales (14%), expiratory wheezing (14%), respiratory failure, nasal dryness, asthma

Common (1% to 10%): Lower respiratory tract disorders, pulmonary infiltration, pulmonary edema, larynx edema, unspecified pulmonary disease[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Arrhythmia (23%), flushing (23%), hypotension (14%), hypertension (11%), phlebitis (11%)

Common (1% to 10%): Pallor, lymph disorders, cardiac failure, cardiac arrest, myocardial infarction, enlarged heart, heart murmur, ischemia, stroke, myocarditis, pericarditis, pulmonary hypertension, secondary cardiomyopathy

Frequency not reported: Arterial thrombosis, venous thrombosis involving various sites (e.g., cerebrovascular accident, renal infarct), vasculitis[Ref]

Nervous system

Very common (10% or more): Headache (86%), dizziness (20%), paresthesias (17%), intracranial pressure increased, pseudotumor cerebri

Common (1% to 10%): Cerebral hemorrhage, intracranial hypertension, abnormal gait, agnosia, aphasia, asterixis, cerebellar edema, cerebellar disorders, convulsions, coma, CNS depression, dysarthria, encephalopathy, facial paralysis, hemiplegia, hyporeflexia, hypotaxia, no light reflex, neurologic reaction, spinal cord disorder, tremor, leg weakness, unconsciousness, slow speech

Frequency not reported: Cerebrovascular accident[Ref]


Common (1% to 10%): Dysuria, micturition frequency, enlarged prostate

Frequency not reported: Genital ulceration[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Anorexia (17%), weight loss (17%), decreased appetite, weight gain (23%), blood triglyceride increased, blood creatinine increased, blood cholesterol increased

Common (1% to 10%): Fluid imbalance, acidosis

Frequency not reported: Hypercalcemia[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Anxiety (17%), insomnia (14%), depression (14%), confusion (11%)

Common (1% to 10%): Agitation, hallucination, dementia, forgetfulness, somnolence[Ref]


Very common (10% or more): Renal insufficiency (11%)

Frequency not reported: Renal infarct[Ref]

Frequently asked questions


1. (2019) "Product Information. Tretinoin (tretinoin)." Par Pharmaceutical Inc

Further information

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

Some side effects may not be reported. You may report them to the FDA.