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Targretin Capsules (Generic Bexarotene)

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Targretin Capsules, or bexarotene, is a medication primarily used to treat cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL). Like any medication, it comes with potential risks and side effects. It’s important to note that the information provided here is not a substitute for professional medical advice, and individuals should consult their healthcare provider for personalized guidance.

Some potential risks and side effects of Targretin Capsules include:

  • Hyperlipidemia: Targretin may increase levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in the blood, which can contribute to cardiovascular problems.
  • Hypothyroidism: It can lead to a decrease in thyroid hormone levels, which may necessitate monitoring and thyroid hormone supplementation.
  • Elevated Blood Sugar Levels: Targretin may cause an increase in blood glucose levels, and individuals with diabetes may need adjustments in their diabetes management.
  • Liver Function Abnormalities: Targretin can impact liver function, and regular monitoring of liver enzymes is typically recommended.
  • Pancreatitis: There is a potential risk of pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) associated with Targretin use.
  • Skin Reactions: Common side effects include skin dryness, rash, and pruritus (itching).
  • Hypersensitivity Reactions: Some individuals may experience allergic reactions, including severe skin reactions or anaphylaxis.
  • Birth Defects: Targretin is known to cause birth defects if taken during pregnancy. Therefore, it should not be used during pregnancy, and reliable contraception is essential during treatment.
  • Interactions with Other Medications: Targretin may interact with other drugs, potentially affecting their effectiveness or causing adverse effects.

Why is this medication prescribed?

Targretin (bexarotene) capsules are a prescription medication used to treat a type of cancer known as cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL). CTCL is a form of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma that primarily affects the skin. Targretin is specifically indicated for the treatment of patients with refractory CTCL, meaning those who have not responded to other treatments or have relapsed after previous therapies.

The active ingredient in Targretin, bexarotene, is a retinoid, a synthetic form of vitamin A. It works by affecting the growth and development of certain cells, including cancer cells.

How should this medicine be used?

Targretin capsules (bexarotene) should be used exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider. It’s important to follow their instructions carefully. Here are general guidelines for the use of Targretin capsules:

  • Dosage: Take Targretin capsules as prescribed by your doctor. The typical recommended dose for cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) is usually taken once daily with a meal.
  • Consistency: Take Targretin consistently at the same time each day. It is essential not to miss any doses for the medication to be most effective.
  • Administration: Swallow the capsules whole with a full glass of water. Do not crush, chew, or break the capsules.
  • Mealtime: Take Targretin with a meal to enhance absorption. This can help reduce the risk of certain side effects.
  • Follow-up: Attend all follow-up appointments with your healthcare provider. They will monitor your response to the medication and assess for any potential side effects or complications.
  • Interactions: Inform your healthcare provider about all other medications, supplements, or herbal products you are taking, as they may interact with Targretin.
  • Pregnancy precautions: If you are of childbearing age, use effective contraception during Targretin treatment, as it may cause birth defects if taken during pregnancy. It is essential to discuss family planning and contraception options with your healthcare provider.
  • Side effects: Be aware of potential side effects, and promptly report any unusual or severe symptoms to your healthcare provider. Common side effects may include changes in blood lipid levels and thyroid function.
  • Liver function monitoring: Targretin may affect liver function, so your doctor may monitor your liver enzymes regularly during treatment.
  • Sun exposure: Targretin may increase sensitivity to sunlight, so it’s advisable to use sunscreen and protective clothing when outdoors.

Always consult your healthcare provider for personalized guidance based on your specific medical condition and history. If you have any questions or concerns about the use of Targretin, do not hesitate to discuss them with your doctor.

Other uses for this medicine

Targretin (bexarotene) capsules are primarily used for the treatment of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL), but in some cases, healthcare providers may consider its use for other conditions. The decision to prescribe Targretin for other purposes would be based on the healthcare provider’s assessment of the patient’s specific medical condition. It is essential to follow your doctor’s recommendations and use the medication only for the purposes prescribed.

What special precautions should I follow?

Special precautions and considerations for Targretin capsules include:

  • Pregnancy and Contraception: Targretin may cause birth defects if taken during pregnancy. Women of childbearing potential should use effective contraception during treatment and for at least one month after discontinuation of therapy. Pregnancy testing may be recommended before starting Targretin.
  • Liver Function: Targretin may affect liver function, so regular monitoring of liver enzymes is typically required during treatment.
  • Lipid Levels: The medication may cause changes in blood lipid levels, and monitoring of cholesterol and triglyceride levels may be necessary.
  • Thyroid Function: Targretin may impact thyroid function, and thyroid hormone levels should be monitored regularly during treatment.
  • Sun Exposure: Targretin may increase sensitivity to sunlight. Patients should use sunscreen and take precautions to minimize sun exposure during treatment.
  • Drug Interactions: Inform your healthcare provider about all medications, including prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal supplements, that you are taking. Some medications may interact with Targretin.
  • Dose Adjustments: Your doctor may adjust the dosage based on your individual response and tolerability. It’s crucial to follow the prescribed dose.
  • Side Effects: Be aware of potential side effects, such as headache, nausea, fatigue, and skin reactions. Report any unusual or severe symptoms to your healthcare provider promptly.
  • Hepatic Impairment: Use Targretin with caution in patients with hepatic impairment, as the medication is metabolized by the liver.
  • Special Populations: Targretin safety and effectiveness in pediatric and geriatric populations have not been well established. Use in these populations should be approached with caution.

Always consult your healthcare provider for personalized advice and guidance. They can assess your specific medical history and condition to determine the most appropriate use of Targretin and monitor you for any potential complications.

What special dietary instructions should I follow?

There are no specific dietary restrictions associated with Targretin capsules. However, taking Targretin with a meal, particularly a meal that contains some fat, may enhance its absorption and reduce the risk of certain side effects. Always follow your healthcare provider’s instructions regarding the administration of Targretin with meals.

What should I do if I forget a dose?

If you forget to take a dose of Targretin capsules, follow these general guidelines:

  • Missed Dose: If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule.
  • Do Not Double Dose: Do not double the dose to make up for a missed one. Taking extra medication could increase the risk of side effects.
  • Consult Your Healthcare Provider: If you are unsure about what to do if you miss a dose, contact your healthcare provider or pharmacist for guidance.

What side effects can this medication cause?

Targretin Capsules (bexarotene) may cause various side effects, and it’s important for individuals to be aware of them and promptly report any concerns to their healthcare provider. Not everyone will experience these side effects, and the severity can vary. Common side effects include:

  • Skin-related side effects:
    • Dry skin
    • Rash
    • Pruritus (itching)
    • Skin changes
  • Metabolic side effects:
    • Elevated blood lipid levels (hyperlipidemia), including increased cholesterol and triglycerides
    • Increased blood glucose levels, potentially leading to or exacerbating diabetes
  • Endocrine system side effects:
    • Hypothyroidism (reduced thyroid hormone levels)
  • Gastrointestinal side effects:
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Loss of appetite
  • Hematologic side effects:
    • Leukopenia (reduced white blood cell count)
    • Anemia
  • Hepatic (liver) side effects:
    • Abnormal liver function tests
    • Hepatitis
  • Musculoskeletal side effects:
    • Joint pain
  • Neurological side effects:
    • Headache
    • Dizziness
  • Hypersensitivity reactions:
    • Allergic reactions
    • Severe skin reactions
    • Anaphylaxis (rare)
  • Other side effects:
    • Fatigue
    • Peripheral edema (fluid retention)

It’s important to note that Targretin has the potential to cause birth defects if used during pregnancy. Therefore, effective contraception is crucial for individuals of reproductive age during the treatment period.

This list is not exhaustive, and individual responses to medications can vary. Patients should consult with their healthcare provider for a comprehensive understanding of potential side effects, and regular monitoring is typically recommended during the course of Targretin treatment. If individuals experience any unexpected or severe side effects, they should seek medical attention promptly.

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

Storage and Disposal of Targretin capsules:


  • Temperature: Store Targretin capsules at room temperature, away from moisture and heat.
  • Container: Keep the capsules in their original container with the desiccant (a substance that absorbs moisture) provided.
  • Keep Away from Children and Pets: Store the medication in a location that is out of reach of children and pets, as accidental ingestion can be harmful.


  • Follow Local Guidelines: Dispose of unused or expired Targretin capsules according to local guidelines or regulations for the disposal of pharmaceutical waste.
  • Do Not Flush: Do not flush medications down the toilet unless instructed to do so. Check with your pharmacist or local waste disposal facility for proper disposal methods.

In case of emergency/overdose

  • Seek Medical Attention: If you suspect an overdose or experience severe side effects, seek immediate medical attention or contact your local poison control center.
  • Symptoms of Overdose: Symptoms of overdose may include severe headache, vomiting, blurred vision, and confusion. It is crucial to get prompt medical assistance in such cases.

What other information should I know?

  • Follow Prescribed Dosage: Take Targretin capsules exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Do not alter the dosage without consulting your doctor.
  • Regular Monitoring: Your healthcare provider may monitor your blood lipid levels regularly while you are on Targretin, as it can affect cholesterol levels.
  • Inform Your Doctor: Inform your healthcare provider about all the medications, supplements, and herbal products you are taking, as they may interact with Targretin.
  • Pregnancy and Breastfeeding: Inform your doctor if you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or breastfeeding. Targretin may cause harm to an unborn baby, so use effective birth control during treatment and for at least 1 month after the last dose.

Always consult with your healthcare provider or pharmacist for specific and up-to-date information tailored to your individual circumstances. This information is a general guideline and may not cover all aspects of your medication.


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