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Gleevec (Generic Imatinib)

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Why is this medication prescribed?

Imatinib is used to treat many forms of leukemia (cancer that starts in the white blood cells), as well as other malignancies and blood cell diseases. Imatinib is also used to treat some forms of gastrointestinal stromal tumors, or GISTs, which are tumors that develop in the walls of the digestive tract and have the potential to spread to other organs. Imatinib is further used to treat dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans, a tumor that develops beneath the surface of the skin, when it cannot be surgically removed, has migrated to other areas of the body, or returns after surgery. Imatinib belongs to the kinase inhibitors drug family. It functions by preventing the aberrant protein from signaling the growth of cancer cells. This slows the growth of cancerous cells.

How should this medicine be used?

Imatinib is available as an oral tablet. Once or twice a day, it is typically taken with a meal and a large glass of water. Imatinib should be taken every day at about the same time(s). Ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any instructions on your prescription label that you are unsure about following. Follow the imatinib directions exactly. Never take it in larger or less amounts or more frequently than directed by your doctor.

Do not chew or crush the tablets; instead, swallow them whole. If you accidentally touch or come into contact with a crushed tablet, wash the area well with soap and water.

You can put all of the imatinib tablets you need for one dosage into a glass of water or apple juice if you are unable to swallow them. For each 100 mg tablet, use 50 milliliters (about 2 ounces) of fluids, and for each 400 mg tablet, use 200 milliliters (about 7 ounces). Drink the fluid right away after stirring with a spoon until the tablets have completely crumbled.

You should take 2 of the 400-mg tablets if your doctor has instructed you to take 800 mg of imatinib. 8 of the 100-mg tablets shouldn’t be taken. If you take 8 of the 100-mg pills, you will consume too much iron due to the iron in the tablet coating.

During your therapy, your doctor may change the imatinib dose you are taking. The effectiveness of the medication for you and any adverse effects you encounter will determine this. Discuss your feelings regarding your treatment with your doctor. Imatinib should still be used even if you feel OK. Imatinib should not be stopped without first consulting your doctor.

Other uses for this medicine

Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more details if you believe this drug should be used for something else.

What special precautions should I follow?

Before taking imatinib,

  • If you have any allergies, including to imatinib, other drugs, or any of the substances in imatinib tablets, notify your doctor right once. Request a list of the components from your pharmacist.
  • Inform your doctor and pharmacist about any vitamins, nutritional supplements, and prescription and over-the-counter drugs you are now taking or intend to take. Any of the following medications should be mentioned: acetaminophen (Tylenol), alprazolam (Xanax), amlodipine (Norvasc, in Caduet, Lotrel, Tribenzor, atorvastatin (Lipitor, in Caduet, among others), atazanavir (Reyataz), carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Equetro, Tegretol, among others), cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral, Sandimmune), clarithromycin (Biaxin, in Prevpac), erythromycin (E.E.S., Eryc, Eryped, among others), estazolam, felodipine, dexamethasone, ergotamine (Ergomar, in Migergot, Cafergot), erythromycin, iron or iron-containing supplements, fentanyl (Duragesic, Subsys, Fentora, among other drugs), fosphenytoin (Cerebyx), indinavir (Crixivan), isradipine, itraconazole (Onmel, Sporanox), ketoconazole, lovastatin (Altoprev), metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL, in Dutoprol), nefazodone, nelfinavir (Viracept), nicardipine (Cardene), and nifedipine (Adalat CC, Procardia, among others), oxcarbazepine (Oxtellar XR, Trileptal), phenobarbital, phenytoin (Dilantin, Phenytek), pimozide (Orap), primidone (Mysoline), nimodipine (Nymalize), nisoldipine (Sular), rifampin (rifadin, rimactane, in Rifamate, Rifater), quinidine (in Nuedexta), rifabutin (Mycobutin), ritonavir (Norvir, in Kaletra, Technivie, Viekira), saquinavir (Fortovase, Invirase), telithromycin, triazolam (Halcion), voriconazole (Vfend), simvastatin (Zocor, in Vytorin), sirolimus (Rapamune), tacrolimus (Astagraf XL, Envarsus XR, Prograf), and warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven).
  • Please let your doctor know if you are taking any herbal supplements, especially St. John’s wort.
  • If you have or have previously had heart, lung, thyroid, renal, or liver illness, let your doctor know.
  • If you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant, let your doctor know. Before beginning therapy, you will need to take a pregnancy test. You should not become pregnant while taking imatinib and for 14 days following your last dose. Consult your physician about birth control options you can take while undergoing therapy. Call your doctor if you conceive while taking imatinib. The fetus could suffer from imatinib.
  • If you are nursing a child, notify your doctor. For a month following your last dosage of imatinib and while you are taking it, you shouldn’t breastfeed.
  • Inform your doctor or dentist that you are taking imatinib if you are getting surgery, including dental surgery.
  • Imatinib may result in drowsiness, blurred vision, or a feeling of being lightheaded. Until you are certain of how this drug will affect you, avoid using machinery or driving a car.

What special dietary instructions should I follow?

While using this medication, avoid grapefruit and grapefruit juice.

What should I do if I forget a dose?

If you miss a dosage, take it as soon as you recall. If the next dose is soon due, skip the missed one and carry on with your regular dosing plan. To make up for a missing dose, do not take a second one.

What side effects can this medication cause?

Imatinib could have negative effects. If any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away, let your doctor know right once:

  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Alteration in the flavor of items
  • Mouth sores or internal mouth swelling
  • Reduced appetite
  • Slim down
  • Stomach pain or indigestion
  • Mouth ache
  • Headache
  • Joint edema or discomfort
  • Bone ache
  • Muscular pain, spasms, or cramps
  • Itching and burning. or a skin-prickling sensation
  • Having trouble falling or staying asleep
  • Sweating
  • Tearing up
  • Red eye
  • Flushing
  • Arid skin
  • Rash
  • Itching
  • Changing nails
  • Hair fall

Some adverse effects can be very harmful. Call your doctor right away if you have any of these signs or symptoms:

  • Inflammation near the eyes
  • Edema of the lower legs, ankles, feet, or hands
  • Unexpected weight gain
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Hammering, rapid, or erratic heartbeat
  • Coughing up crimson or pink mucus
  • Larger amounts of urine, especially at night
  • Chest ache
  • Skin that is flaking, blistering, or shedding
  • Eyes or skin that have a yellow tint
  • Stool with blood in it
  • Significant bruising or bleeding
  • Symptoms of infection such as a sore throat, fever, chills, and flu-like symptoms
  • Extreme fatigue or weakened state
  • Bloating or pain in the abdomen

In youngsters, imatinib might inhibit growth. The physician for your child will keep a close eye on their development. Consult your child’s doctor about the dangers of imatinib administration.

Other negative effects of imatinib are possible. If you experience any strange issues while taking this medicine, contact your doctor right away.

What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?

Keep this medication tightly closed in the original container and out of the reach of children. Keep it at room temperature and out of the bathroom and other places with excessive heat and moisture.

As many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and are simple for young children to open, it is crucial to keep all medications out of sight and out of reach of children. Always lock safety caps and promptly stash medication up and away from young children where it is out of their sight and reach to prevent poisoning.

Unused prescriptions must be disposed of carefully to prevent pets, kids, and other people from ingesting them. You should not, however, dispose of this medication in the toilet. Instead, utilizing a medicine take-back program is the easiest approach to get rid of your medication. To find out about take-back programs in your area, speak with your pharmacist or the garbage/recycling department in your city. If you do not have access to a take-back program, see the FDA’s Safe Disposal of Medicines website at for additional information.

In case of emergency/overdose

Call the poison control hotline at 1-800-222-1222 in the event of an overdose. Additionally, information can be found online at Call 911 right once if the person has collapsed, experienced a seizure, is having difficulty breathing, or cannot be roused.

Overdose signs could include the following:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Rash
  • Swelling
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Muscular spasms or cramps
  • Abdomen ache
  • Headache
  • Reduced appetite

What other information should I know?

Keep all of your appointments with your physician and the lab. To monitor your body’s reaction to imatinib, your doctor will request specific lab tests.

No one else should take your medication. Any queries you may have regarding medication refills should be directed to your pharmacist.

You should keep a written record of every medication you take, including any over-the-counter (OTC) items, prescription drugs, and dietary supplements like vitamins and minerals. This list should be brought with you whenever you see a doctor or are admitted to the hospital. You should always have this information with you in case of emergencies.

Brand names

  • Gleevec®
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