Gleevec

Generic Name: Imatinib

  • What is Gleevec?

    Gleevec is used to treat certain types of leukemia (cancer that begins in the white blood cells) and other cancers of the blood cells. It is also used to treat gastrointestinal stromal tumors (known as GIST, which is a type of tumor that grows in the walls of the digestive passages and may spread to other parts of the body).

    In addition, Gleevec is used to treat dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (a tumor that forms under the top layer of skin) and aggressive systemic mastocytosis (a rare disorder caused by too many mast cells in various tissues of the body).

  • What is the most important information I should know about Gleevec?

    Tell your doctor immediately if you experience fever, breathing problems, blood in the stools, jaundice (e.g., yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes), sudden weight gain, or symptoms of heart failure.

    Women should avoid becoming pregnant and avoid breastfeeding while taking Gleevec.

    Gleevec is often associated with edema (swelling caused by fluid in your body's tissues) and occasionally serious fluid retention. Your doctor will weigh and monitor you regularly for signs and symptoms of fluid retention.

    Treatment with Gleevec is also associated with low levels of certain blood cells. Your doctor will perform complete blood counts weekly for the first month, biweekly for the second, and periodically thereafter.

    Severe congestive heart failure and left ventricular dysfunction have occasionally been reported in patients taking Gleevec. Liver problems, muscle or bone pain, stomach bleeding, and skin blistering have also been reported with Gleevec. Your doctor should check closely for any serious complications periodically throughout treatment.

    Gleevec is sometimes associated with stomach irritation. It is important to take Gleevec with food and a large glass of water to reduce this problem.

  • Who should not take Gleevec?

    Patients who are allergic to imatinib or any other component of Gleevec should not use this drug. Pregnant or breastfeeding women should avoid taking Gleevec.

  • What should I tell my doctor before I take the first dose of Gleevec?

    Tell your doctor about all prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal medications you are taking before beginning treatment with Gleevec. Also, talk to your doctor about your complete medical history, especially if you have a history of heart disease or are at risk for heart failure; are experiencing swelling or weight gain from retaining water; have a history of liver, kidney, or heart disease; are pregnant or could be pregnant; or are breastfeeding.

  • What is the usual dosage?

    The information below is based on the dosage guidelines your doctor uses. Depending on your condition and medical history, your doctor may prescribe a different regimen. Do not change the dosage or stop taking your medication without your doctor's approval.

    Your doctor will prescribe the appropriate dosage based on your condition.

  • How should I take Gleevec?

    Gleevec should be taken with food and a large glass of water. For patients unable to swallow the film-coated tablets, the tablets may be dissolved in a glass of water or apple juice and stirred with a spoon.

  • What should I avoid while taking Gleevec?

    Avoid taking Gleevec with grapefruit juice. Also avoid crushing the tablets, and do not get the dissolved powder on your skin. If contact occurs, wash the area thoroughly.

  • What are possible food and drug interactions associated with Gleevec?

    If Gleevec is taken with certain other drugs, the effects of either could be increased, decreased, or altered. It is especially important to check with your doctor before combining Gleevec with the following: acetaminophen, alfentanil, atazanavir, carbamazepine, clarithromycin, cyclosporine, dexamethasone, diergotamine, dihydropyridine calcium channel blockers, erythromycin, ergotamine, fentanyl, grapefruit juice, herbal supplements, HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors or "statins," indinavir, iron, itraconazole, ketoconazole, nefazadone, nelfinavir, phenobarbital, phenytoin, pimozide, quinidine, rifampicin, ritonavir, saquinavir, sirolimus, St. John's wort, tacrolimus, telithromycin, triazolo-benzodiazepines, voriconazole, and warfarin.

  • What are the possible side effects of Gleevec?

    Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, tell your doctor as soon as possible. Only your doctor can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking this drug.

    Side effects may include: swelling, nausea, vomiting, muscle cramps, muscle pain, diarrhea, rash, fatigue, abdominal pain, fever, shortness of breath, blood in the stools, jaundice (e.g., yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes), sudden weight gain, symptoms of heart failure

  • Can I receive Gleevec if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

    Women should avoid becoming pregnant and avoid breastfeeding while being treated with Gleevec. Tell your doctor immediately if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

  • What should I do if I miss a dose of Gleevec?

    If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember, making sure you also eat a meal and drink a large glass of water. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the one you missed and return to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take two doses at once. If you are unsure, ask your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

  • How should I store Gleevec?

    Store at room temperature in a tightly closed container. Protect from moisture.

Meet the Pharmacists

I'm Beth Isaac, PharmD. Welcome to PDR Health!

Check out my latest post on cholesterol drugs.

Meet the Pharmacists

I'm Beth Isaac, PharmD. Welcome to PDR Health!

Check out my latest post on cholesterol drugs.

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