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Gleevec (Imatinib Mesylate)
HOW TO USE THIS INFORMATION: This is a summary and does NOT have all possible information about this product. This information does not assure that this product is safe, effective, or appropriate for you. This information is not individual medical advice and does not substitute for the advice of your health care professional. Always ask your health care professional for complete information about this product and your specific health needs.
This medication is used to treat certain types of cancer (such as acute lymphoblastic leukemia, chronic myeloid leukemia, gastrointestinal stromal tumors, and myelodysplastic/myeloproliferative diseases). It is a chemotherapy drug that works by slowing or stopping the growth of cancer cells.
Take this medication by mouth with a meal and a full glass of water (8 ounces/240 milliliters) as directed by your doctor, usually once or twice daily. Do not crush the tablets. If you have trouble swallowing the tablets whole, you may dissolve the tablets in a glass of water or apple juice. The amount of liquid will depend on your dose. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more detailed instructions. Stir the mixture well until the tablet(s) dissolve, and drink right away.
The dosage is based on your medical condition, response to treatment, and other medications you may be taking. Be sure to tell your doctor and pharmacist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products). For children, the dosage is also based on their body size. Avoid eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice while using this medication unless your doctor or pharmacist says you may do so safely.
Grapefruit can increase the chance of side effects with this medicine. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more details. Do not increase your dose or use this drug more often or for longer than prescribed. Your condition will not improve any faster, and your risk of side effects will increase. Since this drug can be absorbed through the skin and lungs and may harm an unborn baby, women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant should not handle this medication or breathe the dust from the tablets.
Upset stomach, nausea/vomiting, diarrhea, headache, muscle/joint pain, muscle cramps, dizziness, blurred vision, or drowsiness may occur. If any of these effects last or get worse, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly. People using this medication may have serious side effects. However, your doctor has prescribed this drug because he or she has judged that the benefit to you is greater than the risk of side effects. Careful monitoring by your doctor may decrease your risk.
Tell your doctor right away if you have any serious side effects, including: easy bruising/bleeding, unusual tiredness, sudden/unexplained weight gain, swelling hands/ankles/feet/abdomen, swelling around the eyes, shortness of breath, fast heartbeat, black/bloody stools, vomit that looks like coffee grounds, symptoms of liver disease (such as nausea/vomiting that doesn’t stop, loss of appetite, stomach/abdominal pain, yellowing eyes/skin, dark urine). This medication may lower your ability to fight infections.
This may make you more likely to get a serious infection or make any infection you have worse. Tell your doctor right away if you have any signs of infection (such as sore throat that doesn’t go away, fever, chills). Imatinib sometimes causes side effects due to the rapid destruction of cancer cells (tumor lysis syndrome). To lower your risk, drink plenty of fluids unless your doctor directs you otherwise. Also, your doctor may prescribe an additional medication.
Tell your doctor right away if you have symptoms such as: low back/side pain (flank pain), signs of kidney problems (such as painful urination, pink/bloody urine, change in the amount of urine), muscle spasms/weakness. Imatinib can commonly cause a rash that is usually not serious. However, you may not be able to tell it apart from a rare rash that could be a sign of a severe reaction. Get medical help right away if you develop any rash. A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is rare. However, get medical help right away if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction, including: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing. This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice any other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
In the US – Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088 or at www.fda.gov/medwatch.
In Canada – Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to Health Canada at 1-866-234-2345.
Before taking imatinib, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details. Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist your medical history, especially of: bleeding problems, heart problems (such as heart failure), kidney disease, liver disease, removal of thyroid gland. This drug may make you dizzy or drowsy or blur your vision. Alcohol or marijuana (cannabis) can make you more dizzy or drowsy.
Do not drive, use machinery, or do anything that needs alertness or clear vision until you can do it safely. Limit alcoholic beverages. Talk to your doctor if you are using marijuana (cannabis). Imatinib can make you more likely to get infections or may worsen any current infections. Avoid contact with people who have infections that may spread to others (such as chickenpox, measles, flu). Consult your doctor if you have been exposed to an infection or for more details. Do not have immunizations/vaccinations without the consent of your doctor. Avoid contact with people who have recently received live vaccines (such as flu vaccine inhaled through the nose).
To lower the chance of getting cut, bruised, or injured, use caution with sharp objects like razors and nail cutters, and avoid activities such as contact sports. Before having surgery, tell your doctor or dentist about all the products you use (including prescription drugs, nonprescription drugs, and herbal products). This medication may slow down a child’s growth. The effect on final adult height is unknown. See the doctor regularly so your child’s height and weight can be checked. Older adults may be more sensitive to the side effects of this drug, especially swelling (edema).
Since this drug can be absorbed through the skin and lungs and may harm an unborn baby, women who are pregnant or who may become pregnant should not handle this medication or breathe the dust from the tablets. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. You should not become pregnant while you are taking imatinib. Imatinib may harm an unborn baby. Consult your doctor for more details and to discuss the use of reliable forms of birth control while taking this medication and for 2 weeks after stopping treatment. If you become pregnant while taking imatinib, talk to your doctor right away about the risks and benefits of this medication. This medication passes into breast milk. Because of possible risk to the infant, breast-feeding is not recommended during treatment and for 1 month after your last dose. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
See also How to Use section. Drug interactions may change how your medications work or increase your risk for serious side effects. This document does not contain all possible drug interactions. Keep a list of all the products you use (including prescription/nonprescription drugs and herbal products) and share it with your doctor and pharmacist. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicines without your doctor’s approval. This medication can slow down the removal of other medications from your body, which may affect how they work. An example of an affected drug is warfarin, among others.
If someone has overdosed and has serious symptoms such as passing out or trouble breathing, call 911. Otherwise, call a poison control center right away. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center.
Do not share this medication with others. Lab and/or medical tests (such as complete blood count, liver/kidney function, body weight) should be done before you start taking this medication and while you are taking it. A pregnancy test may also be done 1 week before you start taking this medication. Keep all medical and lab appointments.
If you miss a dose, skip the missed dose. Take your next dose at the regular time. Do not double the dose to catch up.
Store at room temperature away from light and moisture. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep all medications away from children and pets. Do not flush medications down the toilet or pour them into a drain unless instructed to do so. Properly discard this product when it is expired or no longer needed. Consult your pharmacist or local waste disposal company.
Your condition can cause complications in a medical emergency. For information about enrolling in MedicAlert, call 1-888-633-4298 (US) or 1-800-668-1507 (Canada).
IMATINIB – ORAL