Gleevec (Imatinib)

(℞) Prescription Required

    Gleevec (Imatinib) Dosage and Side Effects

    GLEEVEC is used to treat several SOLID TUMOUR or BLOOD CANCER indications.

    Proper Use of this medication

    Take GLEEVEC only as prescribed for you by your doctor.

    If your dose is 800 mg a day, use only the 400 mg tablets to make up your dose. This will reduce how much iron you get.

    Take GLEEVEC by mouth, with food and a large glass of water.

    You can take GLEEVEC in one of these two ways:

    1. Swallow GLEEVEC:
      • Whole with a large glass of water.
      • If the 400 mg tablet is too large to swallow whole:
        • Break it in two pieces
        • Swallow each piece with water, one after the other
    2. If you cannot swallow a 400 mg tablet broken in two or a 100 mg tablet: Place the tablet in a glass with water or apple juice.
    3. 100 mg tablet: use 50 mL or one-quarter cup
    4. 400 mg tablet: use 200 mL or a little less than 1 cup
      • Stir with a spoon to completely dissolve the tablet
      • Drink the whole drink right away
      • Rinse the glass with a little more water or juice and drink that too
      • No trace of the dissolved tablet should be left behind in the glass

    Usual Dose:

    Your dose depends on if you are an adult or a child, and on your medical condition. Your healthcare professional will regularly monitor your condition. Your dose may change depending on how well GLEEVEC is working.



    If you think you have taken too much GLEEVEC, contact your healthcare professional, hospital emergency department or regional Poison Control Centre immediately, even if there are no symptoms.

    Missed Dose:

    If you or your child:

    • missed a dose OR threw up after taking the last dose. Do NOT take another dose or double dose. Instead, wait until it is time for your next dose.

    Side Effects

    Side effects may include:

    • weight loss, no appetite, change in taste, dry mouth, sores in mouth
    • heartburn, indigestion
    • constipation, gas, feel bloated
    • headache, dizziness
    • difficulty sleeping, drowsiness
    • weakness, feeling tired
    • nosebleeds
    • skin dry, itchy or less sensitive to touch
    • skin more sensitive to sun
    • night sweats, red in the face or other areas of the skin
    • unusual hair loss or thinning
    • muscle tension, cramps, pain
    • bone pain
    • joint pain and swelling
    • tingling, pain, or numbness in hands, feet, legs
    • cough

    If any of these affects you severely, tell your healthcare professional.

    GLEEVEC can cause abnormal blood test results. You may have blood thyroid hormone levels that are not normal. This occurs when your thyroid has been removed and you are on a drug such as levothyroxine.

    Children who take GLEEVEC may have the following side effects more often than adults:

    • Low blood levels of calcium, sugar, phosphates, albumin protein and sodium
    • High blood levels of sugar

    Your doctor will decide when to perform tests and will interpret the results.

    While you are taking GLEEVEC, you will be weighed regularly.

    Children and teenagers may grow more slowly when taking GLEEVEC. The healthcare professional will measure their growth at regular visits.

    Your doctor may do blood and/or urine tests to check how well your kidneys are working. This will be done before you start taking GLEEVEC and during your treatment.

    Warnings and Precautions

    Take GLEEVEC only under the care of a doctor who knows how to use anti-cancer drugs. They should be trained in how to treat solid tumours or blood cancers.

    GLEEVEC can cause severe side effects:

    • Heart disease or problems where your heart is unable to pump enough blood to meet the body’s needs. These include:
      • Left ventricular dysfunction
      • Congestive heart failure
      • Cardiogenic shock
    • Water retention: a build-up of water in your body
    • Side effects caused by water retention. These include:
      • Pleural effusion
      • Pulmonary edema
      • Pericardial effusion
      • Ascites
    • Rhabdomyolysis: a rapid breakdown of muscle. It may lead to sudden kidney failure
    • Severe bleeding
    • Liver disorder, jaundice, toxicity or failure. In some patients, liver failure has led to death.
    • Gastrointestinal perforation: a hole in the wall of your stomach, small or large bowel. In some patients, it has led to death.

    Interactions with this medication

    The following may interact with GLEEVEC:

    • some medicines used to treat fungal infections, like ketoconazole, itraconazole
    • some medicines used to treat bacterial infections, like erythromycin, or clarithromycin
    • some medicines used to treat epilepsy, like carbamazepine, oxcarbazepine, phenobarbital, phenytoin, fosphenytoin, or primidone
    • some medicines used to treat high cholesterol like simvastatin
    • some medicines used to treat mental health disorders like pimozide
    • some medicines used to treat high blood pressure or heart disorders. This includes metoprolol or a group of medicines called calcium channel blockers
    • rifampicin a medicine used to treat tuberculosis (TB)
    • St. John’s Wort (Hypericum perforatum), a herbal product used to treat depression and other conditions
    • dexamethasone, a medicine to treat inflammation
    • cyclosporine, a medicine that keeps the immune system from rejecting a new organ after a transplant
    • acetaminophen, a medicine used to reduce pain or fever—acetaminophen is also included in many cold and flu remedies, so check the label
    • warfarin, a medicine used to treat or prevent blood clots
    • levothyroxine, if you had your thyroid removed
    • Do NOT drink grapefruit juice at any time while you are on GLEEVEC
    • If you are already taking GLEEVEC, tell your healthcare professional if you are prescribed a new medicine.

    Other related products

    The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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