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Generic Name: nilotinib (nye LOE ti nib)
Brand Names: Tasigna

Medically reviewed: November 7, 2017

What is Tasigna?

Tasigna (nilotinib) is a cancer medicine that interferes with the growth and spread of cancer cells in the body.

Tasigna is used to treat a type of blood cancer called Philadelphia chromosome positive chronic myeloid leukemia (CML).

Tasigna is usually given after other medications have been tried without success.

Important information

You should not use Tasigna if you have long QT syndrome, or low blood levels of potassium or magnesium.

Tasigna can cause a serious heart problem, especially if you use certain other medicines at the same time. Tell your doctor about all your other medicines. Your heart function may need to be checked before and during treatment with this medicine.

Call your doctor right away or get emergency medical help if you have fast or pounding heartbeats and sudden dizziness (like you might pass out).

Take Tasigna on an empty stomach. Avoid eating anything for at least 2 hours before and 1 hour after you take your dose.

Before taking this medicine

You should not use Tasigna if you are allergic to nilotinib, or if you have:

  • low blood levels of potassium or magnesium; or

  • a heart rhythm disorder called long QT syndrome.

To make sure Tasigna is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have ever had:

  • heart disease, heartbeat problems, or long QT syndrome (in you or a family member);

  • a stroke;

  • unusual bleeding;

  • low blood levels of potassium or magnesium;

  • severe problems with lactose (milk sugar);

  • liver disease;

  • pancreatitis; or

  • surgical removal of your stomach (total gastrectomy).

Do not use Tasigna if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby. Use effective birth control to prevent pregnancy while you are taking this medicine.

It is not known whether nilotinib passes into breast milk or if it could affect a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are taking Tasigna.

How should I take Tasigna?

Tasigna is usually taken every 12 hours. Follow the directions on your prescription label. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

Take Tasigna on an empty stomach, at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after a meal. Do not take with food. Food can increase your blood levels of nilotinib and may increase harmful side effects.

Take this medicine with a full glass of water. Swallow the capsule whole.

To make swallowing easier, you may open the capsule and sprinkle the medicine into no more than 1 teaspoon of applesauce. Swallow right away without chewing. Do not save the mixture for later use.

Avoid eating anything for at least 2 hours before and 1 hour after you take Tasigna.

Tasigna is to be taken long-term. You should not stop using this medicine unless your doctor tells you to.

Tasigna 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.

Nilotinib can cause a serious heart problem. Your heart function may be checked with an electrocardiograph or ECG (sometimes called an EKG) before and during your treatment with this medicine.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

Read all patient information, medication guides, and instruction sheets provided to you. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions.

Tasigna dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Chronic Myelogenous Leukemia:

Philadelphia Chromosome Positive Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (Ph+ CML):

-Newly Diagnosed in Chronic Phase (Ph+ CML-CP):
300 mg orally twice a day, approximately 12 hours apart

-Resistant or Intolerant in Chronic Phase and Accelerated Phase (Ph+ CML-CP and Ph+ CML-AP):
400 mg orally twice a day, approximately 12 hours apart

-This drug should be taken on an empty stomach; no food should be consumed for at least 2 hours before the dose and for at least 1 hour after the dose is taken.
-This drug may be given in combination with hematopoietic growth factors (e.g. erythropoietin or G-CSF), hydroxyurea, or anagrelide if clinically indicated.

Uses: For the treatment of newly diagnosed Ph+ CML in chronic phase, and chronic and accelerated phase Ph+ CML resistant or intolerant to prior therapy that included imatinib

See also: Dosage Information (in more detail)

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled 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.

Overdose symptoms may include drowsiness and vomiting.

What should I avoid while taking Tasigna?

Grapefruit and grapefruit juice may interact with nilotinib and cause unwanted side effects. Avoid the use of grapefruit products while taking Tasigna.

Avoid taking a stomach acid reducer (such as Pepcid, Tagamet, or Zantac) within 10 hours before or 2 hours after you take Tasigna.

Avoid taking an antacid (such as Di-Gel, Gaviscon, Maalox, Milk of Magnesia, Mylanta, or Rolaids) within 2 hours before or 2 hours after you take Tasigna.

Nilotinib 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.

Tasigna side effects

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

Contact your doctor right away or get emergency medical help if you have symptoms of a serious heart problem: fast or pounding heartbeats and sudden dizziness (like you might pass out).

Call your doctor at once if you have:

  • unusual bleeding (bruises, blood in your urine or stools);

  • bleeding in the brain - sudden headache, confusion, vision problems, and dizziness;

  • swelling, rapid weight gain, feeling short of breath;

  • signs of liver or pancreas problems - upper stomach pain (that may spread to your back), nausea or vomiting, fast heart rate, dark urine, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes);

  • low blood cell counts - fever, chills, night sweats, mouth sores, pale skin, unusual weakness;

  • signs of decreased blood flow - leg pain or cold feeling, chest pain, numbness, trouble walking, speech problems; or

  • signs of tumor cell breakdown - little or no urination, muscle weakness or twitching, fast or slow heart rate, hallucinations, feeling restless or irritable.

Common Tasigna side effects may include:

  • low blood cell counts;

  • nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, constipation;

  • rash, temporary hair loss;

  • runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, cough, sore throat;

  • headache, joint or muscle pain; or

  • feeling tired.

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 Tasigna?

Tasigna can cause a serious heart problem, especially if you use certain medicines at the same time, such as antibiotics, antifungal medicine, antidepressants, anti-malaria medicine, asthma inhalers, antipsychotic medicine, cancer medicine, certain HIV/AIDS medicine, heart or blood pressure medicine, or medicine to prevent vomiting.

This list is not complete and many other drugs can interact with nilotinib. 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.

Further information

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

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