Imatinib (By mouth)


Imatinib (i-ma-TIN-ib)
Treats certain types of leukemia such as chronic myeloid leukemia (CML), acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), and chronic eosinophilic leukemia (CEL). Treats a type of tumor called gastrointestinal stromal tumor (GIST). This medicine is also used for other conditions such as myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) or myeloproliferative disease (MPD), aggressive systemic mastocytosis (ASM), hypereosinophilic syndrome (HES), and dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP).

Brand Name(s)

There may be other brand names for this medicine.


When This Medicine Should Not Be Used

You should not receive this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to imatinib, or if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

How to Use This Medicine

Capsule, Tablet
  • Medicines used to treat cancer are very strong and can have many side effects. Before receiving this medicine, make sure you understand all the risks and benefits. It is important for you to work closely with your doctor during your treatment.
  • Your doctor will tell you how much of this medicine to use and how often. Do not use more medicine or use it more often than your doctor tells you to.
  • If you are switching from the capsule to the tablet form of this medicine, make sure you understand how much medicine to take. One tablet might contain more medicine than one capsule does.
  • It is best to take this medicine with food and a large glass of water.
  • If you are not able to swallow the tablet, you may dissolve the tablet in a glass of water or apple juice. If you are taking the 100 mg tablet, dissolve it in 2 ounces (1/4 cup) of water or juice. If you are taking the 400 mg tablet, dissolve it in 7 ounces (about 1 cup) of water or juice. Stir with a spoon and drink immediately after the tablet has dissolved.
If a dose is missed:
  • If you miss a dose or forget to use your medicine, use it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then to use the medicine and skip the missed dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.

How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine

  • Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light.
  • Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of any leftover medicine after you have finished your treatment. You will also need to throw away old medicine after the expiration date has passed.
  • Keep all medicine away from children and never share your medicine with anyone.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.
  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are using medicine to treat bacterial infections (such as erythromycin, clarithromycin, telithromycin, Biaxin®, E-Mycin®, Ketek®), medicine to treat fungal infections (such as itraconazole, ketoconazole, voriconazole, Nizoral®, Sporanox®, Vfend®), or medicine to treat HIV or AIDS (such as atazanavir, indinavir, nelfinavir, ritonavir, saquinavir, Crixivan®, Fortovase®, Invirase®, Norvir®, Reyataz®, Viracept®).
  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are also using dexamethasone (such as Decadron®, Hexadrol®), phenytoin (Dilantin®), carbamazepine (such as Carbatrol®, Tegretol®), rifampin (such as Rifadin®, Rimactane®), phenobarbital (Solfoton®), cyclosporine (such as Gengraf®, Neoral®, Sandimmune®), nefazodone (Serzone®), pimozide (Orap®), estazolam (Prosom®), triazolam (Halcion®), or alprazolam (Xanax®).
  • Tell your doctor if you are using acetaminophen (Tylenol®, Tempra®), alfentanil (Alfenta®), ergotamine (Ergomar®, Ergostat®), fentanyl (Sublimaze®), quinidine (Quinaglute®), sirolimus (Rapamune®), or tacrolimus (Protopic®).
  • Tell your doctor if you are also using medicines to lower cholesterol or triglycerides (such as lovastatin, Lescol®, Lipitor®, Pravachol®, Zocor®), certain blood pressure medicines (such as diltiazem, nifedipine, verapamil, Cartia®, Lotrel®, Norvasc®, Plendil®, Tiazac®), St. John's Wort, or a blood thinner (such as warfarin, Coumadin®).
  • Do not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice while you are using this medicine.

Warnings While Using This Medicine

  • Using this medicine while you are pregnant can harm your unborn baby. Use an effective form of birth control to keep from getting pregnant. If you think you have become pregnant while using the medicine, tell your doctor right away.
  • Make sure your doctor knows if you have kidney disease, liver disease, bleeding problems, heart disease, heart failure, lung disease, or underactive thyroid.
  • Serious skin reactions can occur with this medicine. Check with your doctor right away if you have fever or chills along with blistering, peeling, loosening of the skin, or red skin lesions.
  • This medicine may also cause serious heart conditions. Call your doctor right away if you start to have chest pain; fast, irregular, or pounding heartbeat; or shortness of breath.
  • This medicine lowers the number of some types of blood cells in your body. Because of this, you may bleed or get infections more easily. To help with these problems, avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Wash your hands often. Stay away from rough sports or other situations where you could be bruised, cut, or injured. Brush and floss your teeth gently. Be careful when using sharp objects, including razors and fingernail clippers.
  • Your doctor will need to check your blood at regular visits while you are using this medicine. Be sure to keep all appointments.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:
  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing.
  • Blistering, peeling, or red skin rash.
  • Bloody or black, tarry stools.
  • Chest pain or discomfort.
  • Dark-colored urine or pale stools.
  • Decrease in how much or how often you urinate.
  • Dry mouth, increased thirst, or muscle cramps.
  • Fast, irregular, or pounding heartbeat.
  • Fever, chills, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, and body aches.
  • Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, or severe pain in your upper stomach.
  • Rapid weight gain.
  • Shortness of breath, cold sweats, and bluish-colored skin.
  • Sores or white patches in your mouth or throat.
  • Swelling in your face, hands, ankles, feet, or around the eyes.
  • Tremors.
  • Trouble breathing or tightness in the chest.
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising.
  • Unusual tiredness or weakness.
  • Vomiting of blood or material that looks like coffee grounds.
  • Yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes.
If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:
  • Anxiety, depression, or trouble sleeping.
  • Diarrhea, constipation, or upset stomach.
  • Dizziness.
  • Headache.
  • Increased tearing.
  • Muscle or joint pain.
  • Night sweats.
  • Skin rash or itching.

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088
Review Date: 2011-02-04 Reviewed By: Keywords: ,
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