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Generic Name:

lenalidomide, Oral capsule

All Brands

  • Revlimid
SECTION 1 of 5

Highlights for lenalidomide

Oral capsule
1

Lenalidomide is used to treat certain types of cancer. It’s used to treat multiple myeloma in combination with the drug dexamethasone. It’s used to treat a type of myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). This drug is also used to treat mantle cell lymphoma. It’s given when the cancer comes back or gets worse after treatment with two other drugs.

2

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

3

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

4

The more common side effects of this drug include skin rash, diarrhea, itching, constipation, and swelling in your legs or arms.

5

In some cases, lenalidomide can cause serious side effects. These can include birth defects, blood clots, heart attack, stroke, or severe liver problems.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

FDA warning

This drug has a black box warning. This is the most serious warning from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). A black box warning alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.

Pregnancy warning. You shouldn’t take this drug if you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Your doctor will make sure you’re not pregnant before you start this drug. During treatment, women must use two reliable forms of birth control to prevent pregnancy. Men who use this drug must use a condom during sexual contact with a pregnant woman or woman who may become pregnant. Men who use this drug also shouldn’t donate sperm.

Restricted program warning. This drug is only available through a restricted program called the REVLIMID REMS program. It is restricted because of its risk for causing birth defects. You’ll have to agree to requirements and sign a form to receive this drug. Men and women must agree to birth control requirements. Women who can become pregnant must agree to pregnancy testing requirements and take phone surveys each month. 

Low white blood cell and platelet warning. This drug causes low white blood cells and platelets in most people. You may need a blood transfusion or special medication if your blood counts drop too low. Your doctor will check your blood counts often during the first few months of your treatment with this drug. After the first few months, they’ll check your blood cell counts at least once a month. Tell your doctor if you have signs of low blood cells. Symptoms of low white blood cells include signs of an infection such as a fever, cough, chills, very bad sore throat, ear or sinus pain, pain when urinating, mouth sores, and wounds that won’t heal. Symptoms of low platelets include any unusual bleeding or bruising.

Blood clot warning. This drug may cause blood clots in your arteries, veins, and lungs. Your risk may be even higher if you take this drug with dexamethasone for multiple myeloma. Taking this drug with dexamethasone may also raise your risk of a heart attack and stroke. Your doctor will give you a blood thinner medication to lower your risk. 

Risk of new cancers

People with multiple myeloma who receive this drug, melphalan, and a blood stem cell transplant have a higher risk of developing new cancers. These include the blood cancers called acute myelogenous leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome. They also include Hodgkin lymphoma.

Liver failure

This drug can increase your risk for liver failure if you take it with dexamethasone. Liver failure can be fatal (cause death). Your doctor will monitor your liver function while you’re taking this drug.

Allergic reactions

This drug may cause severe skin allergic reactions. These reactions include toxic epidermal necrolysis and Stevens-Johnson syndrome. These can be fatal (cause death). Tell your doctor right away if you develop any skin rashes, hives, or skin peeling. You may need to stop taking this drug.

What is lenalidomide?

This drug is a prescription drug. It’s available as an oral capsule. 

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

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 certain types of cancer.

More Details

How it works

This drug belongs to a class of drugs called immunomodulary agents.

More Details

Why it's used

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

  • Multiple myeloma. This is a plasma cell cancer. This drug is given in combination with dexamethasone to treat the cancer.
  • Myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS). This is a type of bone marrow cancer. Lenalidomide is used to treat deletion 5q MDS, a type of MDS in which a part of chromosome 5 is missing.
  • Mantle cell lymphoma. This is a type of lymph node cancer. Lenalidomide is used when this cancer comes back or gets worse after treatment with bortezomib and one other drug.

How it works

This drug belongs to a class of drugs called immunomodulary agents. 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 killing certain tumor cells.

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SECTION 2 of 5

lenalidomide Side Effects

Oral capsule

More Common Side Effects

The more common side effects of lenalidomide can include:

  • diarrhea

  • constipation

  • itching

  • rash

  • tiredness

  • swelling of your limbs and skin

  • nausea

  • fever

  • cough

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:

  • Low white blood cells. This can lead to an infection. Symptoms can include:

    • fever
    • cough
    • chills
    • very bad sore throat
    • ear or sinus pain
    • pain when urinating
    • mouth sores
    • wounds that won’t heal
  • Low platelets. Symptoms can include:

    • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Blood clot in your lung, arm, or leg. Symptoms can include:

    • shortness of breath
    • chest pain
    • swelling in your arm or leg
  • Heart attack. Symptoms can include:

    • chest pain that may spread to your arms, neck, jaw, back, or stomach area
    • feeling sweaty
    • shortness of breath
    • nausea or vomiting
  • Stroke. Symptoms can include:

    • sudden numbness or weakness, especially on one side of your body
    • severe headache or confusion
    • problems with your vision, speech, or balance
  • Severe liver problems. Symptoms can include:

    • yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes
    • dark, brown, or tea-colored urine
    • pain on the upper right side of your stomach area
    • bleeding or bruising more easily than normal
    • feeling very tired
  • Tumor flare reaction (worsening of your tumor). Symptoms can include:

    • tender, swollen lymph nodes
    • fever below 101°F
    • pain
    • rash
Pharmacist's Advice
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

This drug doesn’t 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.
SECTION 3 of 5

lenalidomide May Interact with Other Medications

Oral capsule

Lenalidomide 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.

Medications that might interact with this drug

Interactions that increase your risk of side effects
  • Side effects from other drugs: Taking lenalidomide with certain medications raises your risk of side effects from these drugs. Examples of these drugs include:
    • Digoxin. Your doctor may check the levels of digoxin in your body to make sure you’re not at a higher risk for side effects. Side effects can include irregular heart rate, dizziness, headache, and stomach pain.
    • Epoetin alfa, darbepoetin alfa, and estrogen-containing drugs. You may have a higher risk for a blood clot if you take these medications with lenalidomide.
    • Warfarin. Your doctor can check your international normalized ratio (INR) to make sure you’re not at a higher risk for side effects such as bleeding and clots. You may need this monitoring if you have multiple myeloma and take lenalidomide and dexamethasone. 

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
chronic lymphocytic leukemia
People with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)

People with CLL who take this drug have an increased risk of death compared to people with CLL who take the drug chlorambucil. This drug may cause serious heart problems that can be fatal (cause death). These problems include an irregular, fast heart rate, heart attack, or heart failure. You shouldn’t take this drug if you have CLL unless you’re participating in a controlled clinical trial.

high tumor burden
People with a high tumor burden

If your doctor tells you that you have a high tumor burden, you have an increased risk for tumor lysis syndrome (TLS). TLS is caused by a fast breakdown of cancer cells. TLS can cause kidney failure, abnormal heart rhythm, seizures, and death. Your doctor can do blood tests to check for TLS. 

kidney problems
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 will start you on a lowered dose or a different dosing schedule.

Pregnant women
Pregnant women

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

Category X drugs should never be used during pregnancy. 

Women shouldn’t get pregnant while taking this drug, during any breaks in treatment, and for at least 4 weeks after stopping this drug. During treatment, women must use two reliable forms of birth control to prevent pregnancy. 

Men must use a condom during any sexual contact with a pregnant woman or woman who can become pregnant while taking this drug and for 4 weeks after stopping the drug. This includes males who have had a vasectomy. Men who take this drug also shouldn’t donate sperm.

breast-feeding
Women who are breast-feeding

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

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

seniors
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.

children
For children

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

Contact with drug
Contact with drug

You cannot donate blood while taking this drug and for 4 weeks after stopping the drug. 

This drug can pass into semen. Men must use a condom during any sexual contact with a pregnant woman or woman who can become pregnant while taking this drug and for 4 weeks after stopping the drug. This includes males who have had a vasectomy. You shouldn’t donate sperm during this time either.

call the doctor
When to call the doctor

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

Allergies
Allergies

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

  • swelling of your face, eyes, lips, tongue, or throat
  • trouble swallowing
  • trouble breathing
  • skin rash, hives, or peeling of your skin
  • blisters 

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 lenalidomide (Dosage)

Oral capsule

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?

Multiple myeloma

Brand: Revlimid

Form: Oral capsule
Strengths: 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 25 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)
  • Typical starting dose: 25 mg taken once per day on days 1–21 of a 28-day cycle. You’ll repeat this cycle and start taking the medication again on day 1. This drug is used with dexamethasone.
  • Dose adjustments: Your doctor may lower your dose or temporally stop treatment if you have serious side effects. 
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

It hasn’t been confirmed that this drug is safe and effective for use in people younger than 18 years.

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

Special considerations

Kidney disease: If you have kidney problems, kidney failure, or are on hemodialysis, your doctor will start you on a lowered dose or a different dosing schedule. Your doctor will decide your specific dose based on your kidney function and the condition you’re treating.

Warnings

Follow your doctor’s instructions on how to take this medication. There may be times when they tell you not to take this drug.

Myelodysplastic syndrome

Brand: Revlimid

Form: Oral capsule
Strengths: 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 25 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)
  • Typical starting dose: 10 mg taken once per day
  • Dose adjustments: Your doctor may lower your dose or temporally stop treatment if you have serious side effects.
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

It hasn’t been confirmed that this drug is safe and effective for use in people younger than 18 years.

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

Special considerations

Kidney disease: If you have kidney problems, kidney failure, or are on hemodialysis, your doctor will start you on a lowered dose or a different dosing schedule. Your doctor will decide your specific dose based on your kidney function and the condition you’re treating.

Warnings

Follow your doctor’s instructions on how to take this medication. There may be times when they tell you not to take this drug.

Mantle cell lymphoma

Brand: Revlimid

Form: Oral capsule
Strengths: 2.5 mg, 5 mg, 10 mg, 15 mg, 20 mg, 25 mg
Adult dosage (ages 18–64 years)
  • Typical starting dose: 25 mg taken once per day on days 1–21 of a 28-day cycle. You’ll repeat this cycle and start taking the medication again on day 1.
  • Dose adjustments: Your doctor may lower your dose or temporally stop treatment if you have serious side effects.
Child dosage (ages 0–17 years)

It hasn’t been confirmed that this drug is safe and effective for use in people younger than 18 years.

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

Special considerations

Kidney disease: If you have kidney problems, kidney failure, or are on hemodialysis, your doctor will start you on a lowered dose or a different dosing schedule. Your doctor will decide your specific dose based on your kidney function and the condition you’re treating.

Warnings

Follow your doctor’s instructions on how to take this medication. There may be times when they tell you not to take this drug.

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
Clinical Associate Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago College of Pharmacy

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 won’t be treated 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. There are times where your doctor may ask you not to take this drug. These temporary stops in your treatment are okay when managed by your doctor.

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:

  • severe skin itching
  • hives
  • rash

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

If you miss a dose of this drug and it has been less than 12 hours since your regular time, take your dose as soon as you remember. If it’s been more than 12 hours, don’t take the 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

Your cancer symptoms should improve. Your doctor will also do tests to check how your cancer is responding to this drug.

This drug is used for long-term treatment.

You’ll take this drug until your cancer goes away or until you have side effects that you cannot tolerate.

Important considerations for taking this drug
Take this drug with water
Take this drug with water. You can take it with or without food
timing
Take this drug at the time(s) recommended by your doctor
Do not open, break, or chew the capsule
Do not open, break, or chew the capsule. You must swallow the capsules whole and with water
storage
Store this drug carefully
See Details
medication is refillable
A prescription for this medication is refillable
See Details
Travel
Travel
See Details
Clinical monitoring
Clinical monitoring
See Details
not usually stocked
Not every pharmacy stocks this drug. When filling your prescription, be sure to call ahead
prior authorization
Insurance
See Details

Store this drug carefully

  • Store this drug at room temperature. Keep it 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.

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 cell counts. Your doctor will check your blood cell counts each week during your first part of treatment. After you’ve taken this drug for a while, your doctor will monitor your blood cell counts less often.
  • Blood clots. You and your doctor should watch for any symptoms of a blood clot. If you have shortness of breath, chest pain, or swelling in your arm or leg, call your doctor right away or go to the emergency room.
  • Liver function. Your doctor will do blood tests during treatment to check your liver function.
  • Thyroid function. Your doctor will do blood tests before and during treatment to check your thyroid function.
  • Kidney function. Your doctor will do blood tests before and during treatment to check your kidney function.

Insurance

Many insurance companies require a prior authorization for this drug. This means your doctor will 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 lenalidomide Cost?

Oral capsule

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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 January 27, 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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