Axitinib | Side Effects, Dosage, Uses & More
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Generic Name:

axitinib, Oral tablet

All Brands

  • INLYTA
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Highlights for axitinib

Oral tablet
1

Axitinib is used to treat advanced kidney cancer. This drug is used after another treatment did not work.

2

This drug comes in the form of a tablet you take by mouth.

3

Axitinib is only available as the brand-name drug Inlyta. It isn’t available as a generic drug.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

High blood pressure

This drug may raise your blood pressure. Your doctor should check your blood pressure often during treatment. If you develop high blood pressure, your doctor may give you medication to treat it. They may also decrease your dosage or stop your treatment with this drug.

Blood clots

This drug can cause blood clots. These can be serious and may cause death. Call your doctor or 9-1-1 right away if you develop any signs of blood clots. Symptoms can include chest pain or pressure, shortness of breath, and pain in your arms, back, neck, or jaw. Symptoms can also include headache, vision changes, trouble talking, and numbness or weakness on one side of your body.

Bleeding

This drug can cause bleeding. This can be serious and sometimes fatal. Call your doctor or 9-1-1 right away if you have any signs of bleeding problems. Symptoms can include unusual bleeding from your gums, periods that are heavier than normal, and bleeding that you cannot control. Symptoms can also include pink or brown urine, red or black stools, and unusual bruising.

Stomach or intestinal wall tears

This drug can cause a tear in your stomach or intestinal wall. These can be serious and sometimes fatal. Call your doctor or 9-1-1 right away if you develop any symptoms of tears. Symptoms can include red or black stools, vomit that contains blood, and stomach pain that is severe or doesn’t go away.

Drug features

This drug is a prescription drug. It’s available as a tablet you take by mouth.

Axitinib is only available as the brand-name drug Inlyta. It isn’t available as a generic drug.

Why it's used

Axitinib is used to treat advanced kidney cancer. This drug is used after another treatment didn’t work.

How it works

This drug works by stopping the activity of cancer cells with certain types of abnormal epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFR) genes.

See Details

How it works

This drug belongs to a class of drugs called tyrosine kinase inhibitors. A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way. These drugs are often used to treat similar conditions.

This drug works by stopping the activity of cancer cells with certain types of abnormal epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFR) genes. This stops the growth and spread of these cancer cells.

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axitinib Side Effects

Oral tablet

More common side effects

The more common side effects of axitinib can include:

  • diarrhea (frequent or loose bowel movements)

  • high blood pressure

  • tiredness or weakness

  • loss of appetite

  • nausea

  • a hoarse voice

  • rash, redness, itching, or peling of the skin on your hands and feet

  • weight loss

  • vomiting

  • constipation

If these effects are mild, they may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious side effects

Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 9-1-1 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • Blood clots in your veins or arteries. Symptoms can include:

    • chest pain or pressure
    • pain in your arms, back, neck, or jaw
    • shortness of breath
    • numbness or weakness on one side of your body
    • trouble talking
    • headache
    • vision changes
  • Bleeding. Symptoms can include:

    • bleeding that lasts a long time
    • unusual bleeding from your gums
    • periods that are heavier than normal
    • bleeding that is severe or that you can’t control
    • pink or brown urine
    • red or black stools
    • unexplained or unusual bruising
    • coughing up blood or blood clots
    • vomit that contains blood or looks like coffee grounds
    • swelling or joint pain
    • headaches
    • dizziness
    • weakness
  • Tear in your stomach or intestinal wall. Symptoms can include:

    • severe stomach pain
    • stomach pain that doesn’t go away
    • vomiting blood
    • red or black stools
  • Heart failure. Symptoms can include:

    • tiredness
    • swelling of your stomach, legs, or ankles
    • shortness of breath
    • neck veins that stick out more than normal
  • Thyroid gland problems. Symptoms can include:

    • tiredness that gets worse or doesn’t go away
    • feeling hot or cold
    • deeper voice
    • weight gain
    • weight loss
    • hair loss
    • muscle cramps or aches
  • Reversible posterior leukoencephalopathy syndrome (RPLS). This is a brain problem. Symptoms can include:

    • headache
    • weakness
    • seizures
    • confusion
    • high blood pressure
    • blindness or change in vision
    • trouble thinking
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

Axitinib may cause drowsiness.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible side effects. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always discuss possible side effects with a healthcare provider who knows your medical history.
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axitinib May Interact with Other Medications

Oral tablet

Axitinib can interact with other medications, vitamins, or herbs you may be taking. An interaction is when a substance changes the way a drug works. This can be harmful or prevent the drug from working well.

To help avoid interactions, your doctor should manage all of your medications carefully. Be sure to tell your doctor about all medications, vitamins, or herbs you’re taking. To find out how this drug might interact with something else you’re taking, talk to your doctor or pharmacist.

Food interactions

Don’t eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice while you’re taking this drug. Grapefruit can make it harder for your body to process axitinib. This means that it may increase the levels of this drug in your body. This increases your risk of side effects.

Medications that might interact with this drug

Drugs that you should not use with axitinib

Do not take these drugs with axitinib. When used with axitinib, these drugs can cause dangerous effects in your body. Examples of these drugs include:

  • Ketoconazole, itraconazole, clarithromycin, atazanavir, indinavir, nefazodone, nelfinavir, ritonavir, saquinavir, and voriconazole
    • Taking these drugs with axitinib may increase the amount of axitinib in your body. This can increase your risk of side effects.
  • Rifampin, dexamethasone, phenytoin, carbamazepine, phenobarbital, and St. John’s wort
    • Taking these drugs with axitinib may decrease the amount of axitinib in your body. This means that axitinib may not work as well to treat your cancer.
  • Bosentan, efavirenz, etravirine, modafinil, and nafcillin
    • Taking these drugs with axitinib may decrease the amount of axitinib in your body. This means that axitinib may not work as well to treat your cancer.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs interact differently in each person, we cannot guarantee that this information includes all possible interactions. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always speak with your healthcare provider about possible interactions with all prescription drugs, vitamins, herbs and supplements, and over-the-counter drugs that you are taking.

People with liver problems

This drug can affect how well your liver works. Your doctor may give you a reduced dosage if you have moderate liver function.

People with kidney problems

If you have kidney problems or a history of kidney disease, you may not be able to clear this drug from your body well. This may increase the levels of this drug in your body and cause more side effects. Your doctor may monitor your urine to check how well your kidneys are working. If your kidneys aren’t working well, protein can spill out into your urine. Your doctor may reduce your dosage or stop your treatment for a time if they find protein in your urine.

Pregnant women

This drug is a category D pregnancy drug. That means two things:

  1. Research in humans has shown adverse effects to the fetus when the mother takes the drug.
  2. This drug should only be used during pregnancy in serious cases where it's needed to treat a dangerous condition in the mother.

Women shouldn’t become pregnant while taking this drug. Men who are taking this drug shouldn’t get a woman pregnant during treatment. This drug can harm or end a pregnancy. Men and women should use effective birth control while taking this drug.

Ask your doctor to tell you about the specific harm that may be done to the fetus. This drug should only be used if the potential risk to the fetus is acceptable given the drug’s potential benefit.

Women who are breast-feeding

This drug may pass into breast milk and cause side effects in a child who is breastfed.

Talk to your doctor about breastfeeding your child. You may need to decide whether to stop breastfeeding or stop taking this medication.

For seniors

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

For children

This drug hasn’t been studied in children. It shouldn’t be used in people younger than 18 years of age.

When to call the doctor

Call your doctor right away if you or your sexual partner becomes pregnant while taking this drug.

Also call your doctor if you plan to have surgery. You may need to stop taking this drug at least 24 hours before your surgery.

Allergies

This drug can cause a severe allergic reaction. Symptoms can include:

  • trouble breathing
  • swelling of your throat or tongue

If you have an allergic reaction, call your doctor or local poison control center right away. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room.

Don’t take this drug again if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction to it. Taking it again could be fatal (cause death).

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How to Take axitinib (Dosage)

Oral tablet

All possible dosages and drug forms may not be included here. Your dosage, drug form, and how often you take the drug will depend on:

  • your age
  • the condition being treated
  • how severe your condition is
  • other medical conditions you have
  • how you react to the first dose

What are you taking this medication for?

Advanced kidney cancer

Brand: Inlyta

Form: oral tablet
Strengths: 1 mg, 5 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18 years and older)
  • Typical starting dosage: 5 mg taken twice per day
  • Dosage increases: If your blood pressure is controlled and you can tolerate the starting dose for least 2 weeks without side effects, your doctor may increase your dose to 7 mg twice per day. If you still have no side effects at that dosage, your doctor may increase your dosage to 10 mg twice per day.
  • Maximum dosage: 10 mg taken twice per day
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

This drug hasn’t been studied in children. It shouldn’t be used in people younger than 18 years of age.

Senior dosage (ages 65 years and older)

The kidneys of older adults may not work as well as they used to. This can cause your body to process drugs more slowly. As a result, more of a drug stays in your body for a longer time. This raises your risk of side effects.

Your doctor may start you on a lowered dosage or a different treatment schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Special considerations

People with moderate liver disease should receive half of the typical starting dose, or 2.5 mg taken twice per day.

Disclaimer: Our goal is to provide you with the most relevant and current information. However, because drugs affect each person differently, we cannot guarantee that this list includes all possible dosages. This information is not a substitute for medical advice. Always to speak with your doctor or pharmacist about dosages that are right for you.
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

This drug comes with serious risks if you don’t take it as prescribed.

If you stop taking the drug suddenly or don’t take it at all

Your cancer may not get better. It may eventually get worse.

If you miss doses or don’t take the drug on schedule

This drug may not work as well or may stop working completely. For this drug to work well, a certain amount needs to be in your body at all times.

If you take too much

You could have dangerous levels of the drug in your body. Symptoms of an overdose of this drug can include:

  • dizziness
  • high blood pressure
  • seizures
  • coughing up large amounts of blood

If you think you’ve taken too much of this drug, call your doctor or local poison control center. If your symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1 or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

What to do if you miss a dose

Take your dose as soon as you remember. If you remember just a few hours before your next scheduled dose, take only one dose. Never try to catch up by taking two doses at once. This could result in dangerous side effects.

How to tell if the drug is working

You may not be able to tell if this drug is working. Your doctor will monitor you to see how your cancer is responding to treatment with this drug.

This drug is used for short-term treatment.

Important considerations for taking Axitinib
with or without food Take this drug with a glass of water. You can take it with or without food
timing considerations Take this drug once every 12 hours
do not crush Do not cut or crush the tablet. Swallow it whole
storage considerations Store this drug carefully See Details
medication is refillable A prescription for this medication is refillable See Details
travel considerations Travel See Details
self management considerations Self-management See Details
clinical monitoring considerations Clinical monitoring See Details
not usually stocked Not every pharmacy stocks this drug. When filling your prescription, be sure to call ahead
hidden cost considerations Hidden costs See Details
prior authorization needed Insurance See Details

Store this drug carefully

  • Store axitinib at room temperature. Keep it between 68°F and 77°F (20°C and 25°C).
  • Keep this drug away from light.
  • Don’t store this medication in moist or damp areas, such as bathrooms.

A prescription for this medication is refillable

You should not need a new prescription for this medication to be refilled. Your doctor will write the number of refills authorized on your prescription.

Travel

When traveling with your medication:

  • Always carry your medication with you. When flying, never put it into a checked bag. Keep it in your carry-on bag.
  • Don’t worry about airport x-ray machines. They can’t hurt your medication.
  • You may need to show airport staff the pharmacy label for your medication. Always carry the original prescription-labeled box with you.
  • Don’t put this medication in your car’s glove compartment or leave it in the car. Be sure to avoid doing this when the weather is very hot or very cold.

Self-management

Your doctor may ask you to check your blood pressure at home. You may need to buy your own blood pressure monitoring machine. These are available at most pharmacies.

Clinical monitoring

You and your doctor should monitor certain health issues. This can help make sure you stay safe while you take this drug. These issues include:

  • Blood pressure. Your doctor may monitor your blood pressure during treatment. If your blood pressure increases, your doctor may lower your dosage.
  • Liver function. Your doctor will monitor the levels of certain enzymes in your liver to see how well your liver is working. If your liver isn’t working well, your doctor may lower your dosage of this drug.
  • Thyroid function. Your doctor will check your thyroid to make sure that it’s working well. If your thyroid isn’t working well, your doctor may give you thyroid medication.
  • Urine and kidney function. Your doctor may monitor your urine for signs of protein. If your kidneys aren’t working well, protein can spill out into your urine. If there is protein in your urine, your doctor may adjust your dosage or stop your treatment with this drug for a time.

Hidden costs

You may need to purchase a blood pressure monitor to check your blood pressure at home.

Insurance

Many insurance companies require a prior authorization for this drug. This means your doctor may need to get approval from your insurance company before your insurance company will pay for the prescription.

Are there any alternatives?

There are other drugs available to treat your condition. Some may be better suited for you than others. Talk to your doctor about other drug options that may work for you.

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How Much Does axitinib Cost?

Oral tablet

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Lowest price for axitinib

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These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for axitinib on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

Show Sources

Content developed in collaboration with University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group

Medically reviewed by Creighton University, Center for Drug Information and Evidence-Based Practice on March 14, 2016

Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or other healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.
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