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

imatinib, Oral tablet

All Brands

  • Gleevec
SECTION 1 of 5

Highlights for imatinib

Oral tablet
1

Imatinib is used to treat certain types of leukemia and other cancers.

2

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

3

Imatinib is available as the brand-name drug Gleevec. It’s also available as a generic version.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

Fluid buildup and heart failure

This drug can cause fluid to build up in your body. This can cause swelling and make it harder for your heart to pump blood. Fluid buildup may cause or worsen heart failure. This risk is higher in people aged 65 years or older and in people with a history of heart disease. Tell your doctor if you gain a lot of weight over a short period of time. This may be a sign of fluid buildup.

Tumor lysis syndrome

This drug can cause a condition called tumor lysis syndrome, which may cause death. This condition happens when the drug causes your cancer cells to break down too fast. The cells release substances in your body that can cause problems with your body’s functions. Symptoms of tumor lysis syndrome can include kidney problems, abnormal heartbeat, and seizures.

Decreased bone marrow function

Your bone marrow makes your blood cells. This drug can prevent your bone marrow from working well, which can lower your blood cell levels. These blood cells include:

  • red blood cells, which carry oxygen throughout your body
  • white blood cells, which help fight off infections
  • platelets, which help clot your blood

Decreased blood cell levels could cause effects such as infections, anemia (very low levels of red blood cells), or increased bleeding. Call your doctor right away if you have any symptoms of low blood cell levels. These can include unexpected bleeding or bruising, blood in your urine or stools, extreme tiredness, or fever.

Liver damage

This drug can cause liver damage. In some cases, this damage may be severe and require a liver transplant. Your doctor will likely monitor you for liver damage during your treatment with this drug.

Drug features

This drug is a prescription drug. It comes as a tablet you take by mouth.

Gleevec is a brand name for the drug imatinib. It’s also available in a generic form.

This drug may be used as part of a combination therapy. This means you may need to take it with other medications.

Why it's used

This drug is used to treat several types of cancer.

See Details

How it works

This drug belongs to a class of drugs called tyrosine kinase inhibitors.

See Details

Why it's used

This drug is used to treat several types of cancer. These include:

  • certain types of chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) called Philadelphia chromosome-positive CML
  • acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)
  • certain types of myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS) and myeloproliferative diseases (MPD)
  • certain types of aggressive systemic mastocytosis (ASM)
  • certain types of hypereosinophilic syndrome (HES)
  • certain types of chronic eosinophilic leukemia (CEL)
  • dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP)
  • certain types of gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST)

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 changing how certain proteins work in your body. These proteins are called tyrosine kinases. They help cancer cells grow and move in your body. This drug interferes with the function of these proteins, which prevents the cancer cells from growing and causes them to die.

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SECTION 2 of 5

imatinib Side Effects

Oral tablet

More common side effects

The more common side effects of this drug are slightly different for adults than for children.

  • Adults’ side effects from imatinib can include:

    • nausea
    • vomiting
    • diarrhea
    • rash
    • itching
    • trouble breathing
    • shortness of breath during or after exercise
    • increased eye tearing
    • runny nose
    • loss of appetite
    • muscle aches, cramps, or pain
    • swelling of your face or around your eyes
    • anemia (very low red blood cell levels)
    • tiredness
    • joint pain
  • Children’s side effects from imatinib can include:

    • nausea
    • vomiting

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:

  • Decreased bone marrow function, which causes low blood cell counts. Symptoms can include:

    • infections
    • shortness of breath
    • weakness or tiredness
    • unexplained bleeding or bruising
  • Heart failure. Symptoms can include:

    • shortness of breath
    • weakness or tiredness
    • swelling of your feet, ankles, or lower legs
    • unexplained weight gain
    • trouble breathing when you’re lying flat
  • Liver damage. Symptoms can include:

    • yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes
    • nausea or vomiting
    • unexplained bleeding or bruising
  • Severe bleeding. Symptoms can include:

    • dark, tarry stools
    • blood in your stool
    • frequent bruising
    • nosebleeds
    • bleeding from your gums while brushing your teeth
  • Serious skin problems. Symptoms can include:

    • extremely red or purple skin
    • blistering
    • peeling
    • pain
    • fever
  • Tumor lysis syndrome. Symptoms can include:

    • decreased urination
    • seizures
    • muscle cramps
    • abnormal heart rhythm
    • nausea
    • vomiting
Pharmacist's Advice
Healthline Pharmacist Editorial Team

This drug may cause drowsiness. It can also cause dizziness or blurry vision. You should not drive a car or use machinery while taking this drug until you know you can function normally.

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.
SECTION 3 of 5

imatinib May Interact with Other Medications

Oral tablet

Imatinib 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 if you’re taking imatinib. Grapefruit can make it harder for your body to process imatinib. This can increase side effects.

Alcohol interaction

Drinking alcohol can increase your risk of drowsiness and liver damage from imatinib. If you drink alcohol, talk to your doctor. They may need to monitor you for signs of bleeding.

Medications that might interact with this drug

Drugs you should not use with imatinib

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

  • Warfarin
    • When used with imatinib, this drug can make your blood too thin and cause dangerous bleeding.

Interactions that increase your risk of side effects

Increased side effects from other drugs: Taking imatinib with certain medications raises your risk of side effects from these drugs. Examples of these drugs include:

  • Antipsychotic drugs such as pimozide, clozapine, and haloperidol
    • Increased side effects can include drowsiness, low blood pressure, and constipation.
  • Heart rhythm drugs such as verapamil, diltiazem, quinidine, flecainide, and propafenone
    • Increased side effects can include abnormal heart rate or rhythm.
  • Cholesterol drugs such as simvastatin, atorvastatin, and lovastatin
    • Increased side effects can include muscle pain and a rare, serious condition called rhabdomyolysis that causes muscle breakdown.
  • Transplant drugs such as cyclosporine, sirolimus, and tacrolimus
    • Increased side effects can include immune suppression. This raises your risk of infections and can make it harder for you to get rid of an infection.
  • Fentanyl, a pain medication
    • Increased side effects can include drowsiness and slow, shallow breathing.

Increased side effects from imatinib: Taking imatinib with certain medications raises your risk of side effects from imatinib. This is because the amount of imatinib in your body may be increased.

Increased side effects from using any of these drugs with imatinib can include nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle cramps, rash, and fluid buildup. If you take any of these drugs and have these side effects, tell your doctor. In most cases, your doctor won’t need to change your dosage of imatinib.

Examples of these drugs include:

  • Antifungal drugs such as itraconazole or voriconazole
  • Antibiotic drugs such as clarithromycin or erythromycin
  • Antidepressant drugs such as nefazodone, trazodone, and venlafaxine
  • HIV drugs such as atazanavir, indinavir, and ritonavir

Interactions that can make imatinib less effective

When used with imatinib, these drugs can make imatinib less effective. That means it may not work as well to treat your condition. This is because the amount of imatinib in your body may be decreased. Examples of these drugs include:

  • Barbiturate drugs such as phenobarbital or butalbital
    • Your doctor may switch you from these drugs to different drugs, or they may increase your dosage of imatinib.
  • Anti-seizure drugs such as phenytoin or carbamazepine
    • Your doctor may switch you from these drugs to different drugs, or they may increase your dosage of imatinib.
  • Corticosteroids such as budesonide and hydrocortisone
    • Your doctor may switch you from these drugs to different drugs, or they may increase your dosage of imatinib.
  • Dexamethasone
    • Your doctor may switch you from this drug to a different drug, or they may increase your dosage of imatinib.
  • Tuberculosis drugs such as rifampin, rifabutin, and rifapentin
    • Your doctor may switch you from these drugs to different drugs, or they may increase your dosage of imatinib.
  • St. John’s wort
    • Your doctor may switch you from this drug to a different drug, or they may increase your dosage of imatinib.

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.
Drug warnings
thyroidectomy warning
People with history of thyroidectomy

This drug can cause hypothyroidism (low thyroid levels) in people taking levothyroxine after having a thyroidectomy. Your doctor will likely monitor your thyroid levels.

pregnancy warning
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.

Talk to your doctor if you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant. 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.

If you’re a sexually active female who could become pregnant, be sure to use effective birth control while taking this drug.

If you’re a sexually active male, talk with your doctor about any precautions you should take while using this drug.

breast feeding warning
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.

senior warning
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.

If you’re older than 65 years of age, you may be at higher risk of fluid buildup while taking this drug.

childrens warning
For children

This drug has not been studied in children younger than 1 year of age.

Slowed growth has occurred in children and adolescents who take this drug. The long-term effects of using this drug on growth in children are not known. Your child’s doctor will likely monitor your child’s growth while they take this drug.

call the doctor
When to call the doctor

Call your doctor right away if you become pregnant while taking this drug.

allergy warning
Allergies

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

  • trouble breathing
  • swelling of your throat or tongue
  • hives
  • rash

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).

SECTION 4 of 5

How to Take imatinib (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?

Chronic myeloid leukemia (CML)

Generic: Imatinib

Form: oral tablet
Strengths: 100 mg, 400 mg

Brand: Gleevec

Form: oral tablet
Strengths: 100 mg, 400 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)
  • Typical starting dosage:
    • Chronic phase: 400 mg taken once per day
    • Accelerated phase or blast crisis: 600 mg taken once per day
  • Dosage increases:
    • Chronic phase: Your doctor may increase your dosage to 600 mg taken once per day
    • Accelerated phase or blast crisis: Your doctor may increase your dosage to 800 mg per day, taken in two 400-mg doses.
Child dosage (ages 1–17 years)
  • Typical starting dosage: 340 mg/m2 per day. The dose can be given once per day or in equally divided doses twice per day (in the morning and evening).
  • Maximum dosage: 600 mg taken once per day. The dose can be given once per day or in equally divided doses twice per day (in the morning and evening).
Child dosage (ages 0-11 months)

This drug has not been studied in children younger than 12 months of age. It should not be used in children in this age range.

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 dosing schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Special considerations

People with mild kidney disease: Your doctor will likely prescribe no more than 600 mg per day.

People with moderate kidney disease: Your doctor will likely prescribe half of the typical starting dosage (no more than 400 mg per day). They may increase your dosage if your body tolerates it.

People with severe kidney disease: Talk with your doctor to see if this drug is safe for you.

People with liver disease: In most cases, people with severe liver disease should take 75% of the typical dosage. People with mild or moderate liver disease can likely take the typical dosage. Your doctor will determine the best dosage for you based on the stage of your disease.

Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL)

Generic: Imatinib

Form: oral tablet
Strengths: 100 mg, 400 mg

Brand: Gleevec

Form: oral tablet
Strengths: 100 mg, 400 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)
  • Typical dosage: 600 mg taken once per day
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)
  • Typical starting dosage: 340 mg/m2 taken once per day
  • Maximum dosage: 600 mg taken once per day
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 dosing schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Special considerations

People with mild kidney disease: Your doctor will likely prescribe no more than 600 mg per day.

People with moderate kidney disease: Your doctor will likely prescribe half of the typical starting dosage (no more than 400 mg per day). They may increase your dosage if your body tolerates it.

People with severe kidney disease: Talk with your doctor to see if this drug is safe for you.

People with liver disease: In most cases, people with severe liver disease should take 75% of the typical dosage. People with mild or moderate liver disease can likely take the typical dosage. Your doctor will determine the best dosage for you based on the stage of your disease.

Myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS)

Generic: Imatinib

Form: oral tablet
Strengths: 100 mg, 400 mg

Brand: Gleevec

Form: oral tablet
Strengths: 100 mg, 400 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)
  • Typical dosage: 400 mg taken once per day
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

This drug is not approved to treat people younger than 18 years of age for this condition.

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 dosing schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Special considerations

People with mild kidney disease: Your doctor will likely prescribe no more than 600 mg per day.

People with moderate kidney disease: Your doctor will likely prescribe half of the typical starting dosage (no more than 400 mg per day). They may increase your dosage if your body tolerates it.

People with severe kidney disease: Talk with your doctor to see if this drug is safe for you.

People with liver disease: In most cases, people with severe liver disease should take 75% of the typical dosage. People with mild or moderate liver disease can likely take the typical dosage. Your doctor will determine the best dosage for you based on the stage of your disease.

Myeloproliferative diseases (MPD)

Generic: Imatinib

Form: oral tablet
Strengths: 100 mg, 400 mg

Brand: Gleevec

Form: oral tablet
Strengths: 100 mg, 400 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)
  • Typical dosage: 400 mg taken once per day
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

This drug is not approved to treat people younger than 18 years of age for this condition.

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 dosing schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Special considerations

People with mild kidney disease: Your doctor will likely prescribe no more than 600 mg per day.

People with moderate kidney disease: Your doctor will likely prescribe half of the typical starting dosage (no more than 400 mg per day). They may increase your dosage if your body tolerates it.

People with severe kidney disease: Talk with your doctor to see if this drug is safe for you.

People with liver disease: In most cases, people with severe liver disease should take 75% of the typical dosage. People with mild or moderate liver disease can likely take the typical dosage. Your doctor will determine the best dosage for you based on the stage of your disease.

Aggressive systemic mastocytosis (ASM)

Generic: Imatinib

Form: oral tablet
Strengths: 100 mg, 400 mg

Brand: Gleevec

Form: oral tablet
Strengths: 100 mg, 400 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)
  • Typical dosage: 100-400 mg taken once per day
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

This drug is not approved to treat people younger than 18 years of age for this condition.

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 dosing schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Special considerations

People with mild kidney disease: Your doctor will likely prescribe no more than 600 mg per day.

People with moderate kidney disease: Your doctor will likely prescribe half of the typical starting dosage (no more than 400 mg per day). They may increase your dosage if your body tolerates it.

People with severe kidney disease: Talk with your doctor to see if this drug is safe for you.

People with liver disease: In most cases, people with severe liver disease should take 75% of the typical dosage. People with mild or moderate liver disease can likely take the typical dosage. Your doctor will determine the best dosage for you based on the stage of your disease.

Hypereosinophilic syndrome (HES)

Generic: Imatinib

Form: oral tablet
Strengths: 100 mg, 400 mg

Brand: Gleevec

Form: oral tablet
Strengths: 100 mg, 400 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)
  • Typical dosage: 100-400 mg taken once per day
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

This drug is not approved to treat people younger than 18 years of age for this condition.

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 dosing schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Special considerations

People with mild kidney disease: Your doctor will likely prescribe no more than 600 mg per day.

People with moderate kidney disease: Your doctor will likely prescribe half of the typical starting dosage (no more than 400 mg per day). They may increase your dosage if your body tolerates it.

People with severe kidney disease: Talk with your doctor to see if this drug is safe for you.

People with liver disease: In most cases, people with severe liver disease should take 75% of the typical dosage. People with mild or moderate liver disease can likely take the typical dosage. Your doctor will determine the best dosage for you based on the stage of your disease.

Chronic eosinophilic leukemia (CEL)

Generic: Imatinib

Form: oral tablet
Strengths: 100 mg, 400 mg

Brand: Gleevec

Form: oral tablet
Strengths: 100 mg, 400 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)
  • Typical dosage: 100-400 mg taken once per day
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

This drug is not approved to treat people younger than 18 years of age for this condition.

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 dosing schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Special considerations

People with mild kidney disease: Your doctor will likely prescribe no more than 600 mg per day.

People with moderate kidney disease: Your doctor will likely prescribe half of the typical starting dosage (no more than 400 mg per day). They may increase your dosage if your body tolerates it.

People with severe kidney disease: Talk with your doctor to see if this drug is safe for you.

People with liver disease: In most cases, people with severe liver disease should take 75% of the typical dosage. People with mild or moderate liver disease can likely take the typical dosage. Your doctor will determine the best dosage for you based on the stage of your disease.

Dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (DFSP)

Generic: Imatinib

Form: oral tablet
Strengths: 100 mg, 400 mg

Brand: Gleevec

Form: oral tablet
Strengths: 100 mg, 400 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)
  • Typical dosage: 800 mg per day, taken in two doses of 400 mg each
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

This drug is not approved to treat people younger than 18 years of age for this condition.

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 dosing schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Special considerations

People with mild kidney disease: Your doctor will likely prescribe no more than 600 mg per day.

People with moderate kidney disease: Your doctor will likely prescribe half of the typical starting dosage (no more than 400 mg per day). They may increase your dosage if your body tolerates it.

People with severe kidney disease: Talk with your doctor to see if this drug is safe for you.

People with liver disease: In most cases, people with severe liver disease should take 75% of the typical dosage. People with mild or moderate liver disease can likely take the typical dosage. Your doctor will determine the best dosage for you based on the stage of your disease.

Gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST)

Generic: Imatinib

Form: oral tablet
Strengths: 100 mg, 400 mg

Brand: Gleevec

Form: oral tablet
Strengths: 100 mg, 400 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)
  • Typical starting dosage: 400 mg taken once per day
  • Dosage increases: Your doctor may increase your dosage to 800 mg per day if you have metastatic (spreading) disease or if surgery cannot be performed.
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

This drug is not approved to treat people younger than 18 years of age for this condition.

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 dosing schedule. This can help keep levels of this drug from building up too much in your body.

Special considerations

People with mild kidney disease: Your doctor will likely prescribe no more than 600 mg per day.

People with moderate kidney disease: Your doctor will likely prescribe half of the typical starting dosage (no more than 400 mg per day). They may increase your dosage if your body tolerates it.

People with severe kidney disease: Talk with your doctor to see if this drug is safe for you.

People with liver disease: In most cases, people with severe liver disease should take 75% of the typical dosage. People with mild or moderate liver disease can likely take the typical dosage. Your doctor will determine the best dosage for you based on the stage of your disease.

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 and may get worse.

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

Your medication 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:

  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • skin rash or redness
  • fluid buildup or swelling in your face or body
  • tiredness
  • weakness
  • muscle spasms
  • muscle pain
  • pain in your abdomen
  • headache
  • decreased appetite
  • fever

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 your cancer and may do certain tests to find out if the drug is working for you.

This drug is used for long-term treatment.

Important considerations for taking this drug

Take this drug with a meal and a large glass of water

This may help to reduce upset stomach.

Store this drug carefully

  • Store this drug at room temperature at 77°F (25°C). You can store it for a short time at a temperate between 59°F and 86°F (15°C and 30°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

If you cannot swallow the tablet whole, you can dissolve it in a glass of water or apple juice. Put the tablet into the liquid and stir with a spoon. Drink all of the liquid right away after the tablet dissolves.

  • For each 100-mg tablet: Use 50 mL (1.7 oz) of liquid.
  • For each 400-mg tablet: Use 200 mL (6.8 oz) of liquid.

Clinical monitoring

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

  • Liver function. Blood tests can check how well your liver is working. If your liver shows signs of damage, you may have to stop taking this drug until your liver function improves.
  • Fluid buildup. Your doctor will likely monitor your weight and check your ankles and lower legs to see if fluid is building up in your body. If you have too much fluid buildup, you may have to stop taking this drug until the buildup goes away.
  • Blood cell levels. Blood tests can check how well your bone marrow is working by checking certain blood cell levels. If your blood cell levels get too low, your doctor may give you a reduced dosage of this drug. They may also have you to stop taking this drug until your blood counts improve.
  • Uric acid levels. You should not start taking this drug if you have high uric acid levels. If a blood test shows that you have high levels of uric acid, your doctor will likely give you medication to lower the levels before giving you this drug. If a blood test shows that you have high uric acid levels during treatment, this can be a sign of tumor lysis syndrome.
  • Growth in children. Slowed growth has been reported in children and adolescents who are taking this drug. While your child takes this drug, their doctor will closely monitor their growth.

Hidden costs

You may need to have blood tests done while taking this drug. The cost of these tests will depend on your insurance coverage.

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.

SECTION 5 of 5

How Much Does imatinib Cost?

Oral tablet

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Lowest price for imatinib

Walmart $2,374.95
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These prices represent the lowest priced national pharmacies for imatinib on GoodRx. They may be lower than your insurance.

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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 10, 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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