If you have breast cancer, your doctor may prescribe Ibrance. It’s used with other medications to treat specific types of breast cancer in certain adults.

To learn more about Ibrance’s uses, see the “Is Ibrance used for breast cancer?” section below.

Ibrance basics

The active drug in Ibrance is palbociclib. This drug belongs to a group of drugs called kinase inhibitors. Ibrance isn’t currently available in generic form.

Ibrance is a type of targeted therapy. This means the drug targets only certain cells to prevent them from growing and multiplying (making more cells).

It comes as a tablet and a capsule, both of which you take by mouth.

Read on to learn about Ibrance’s side effects, uses, dosage, and more.

Like most drugs, Ibrance may cause mild or serious side effects. The lists below describe some of the more common ones. These lists don’t include all possible side effects.

Ibrance is taken with certain other medications. The side effects of Ibrance can vary depending on the medication you’re taking it with.

Keep in mind that side effects of a drug can depend on:

  • your age
  • other health conditions you have
  • other medications you take

Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you more about the potential side effects of Ibrance. They may also suggest ways to help with managing the side effects of Ibrance.

Mild side effects

Here’s a list of some of the mild side effects Ibrance can cause. To learn about other mild side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist, or read the prescribing information for Ibrance tablets and capsules.

Mild side effects of Ibrance that have been reported include:

Mild side effects of many drugs may go away within a few days to a couple of weeks. But if they become bothersome, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They may suggest ways to prevent or manage certain side effects.

* For more information about this side effect, see the “Side effect focus” section below.

Serious side effects

Serious side effects from Ibrance can occur. If you have serious side effects from this drug, call your doctor right away. If you think you’re having a medical emergency, you should call 911 or your local emergency number.

Serious side effects of Ibrance that have been reported include:

* For more information about this side effect, see the “Side effect focus” section below.

Side effect focus

Learn more about some of the side effects Ibrance may cause.

Hair loss

Hair loss is one of the more common side effects of Ibrance. Even though this side effect is common, it’s usually mild.

Hair loss was reported as mild in studies of Ibrance tablets and capsules. It’s likely that the drug may cause the hair on your head to become thinner, but not fall out completely.

What might help

It may not be possible to prevent hair thinning or hair loss from Ibrance. You may consider trying over-the-counter scalp treatments that contain minoxidil, such as Rogaine. And wearing a wig or other head covering might help you feel more comfortable.

If you have questions or concerns about hair loss while taking Ibrance, talk with your doctor.

Neutropenia

Taking Ibrance commonly causes certain blood disorders (changes in your blood cell levels as seen on blood tests).

The most common side effect reported in studies of Ibrance tablets and capsules was neutropenia. This refers to low levels of a type of white blood cell called neutrophils.

Neutrophils work in your immune system to find and destroy germs that may cause infections, such as bacteria. Without enough neutrophils, you’re more likely to develop mild or serious infections. Some examples include common colds, urinary tract infections (UTIs), and the flu.

Symptoms of infections can vary but may include:

  • fever*
  • chills
  • body aches
  • cough
  • stuffy or runny nose

What might help

Because neutropenia is common with Ibrance, it’s important to take precautions to protect yourself against infections while taking the drug. Some tips include washing your hands often and avoiding contact with people who may be sick.

To monitor for neutropenia and other blood disorders, your doctor will arrange blood tests. You’ll have a blood test called a complete blood count (CBC):

  • before you start taking Ibrance
  • at the beginning of each 28-day treatment cycle
  • on day 15 of your first 2 treatment cycles
  • whenever your doctor recommends it during your treatment

If severe neutropenia occurs, your doctor may have you pause Ibrance and resume it at a lower dosage, or have you stop the drug. They may also recommend a treatment such as pegfilgrastim (Neulasta) to increase your white blood cell levels. You should not change your Ibrance dosage without your doctor’s approval, though.

Rarely, Ibrance treatment may lead to febrile neutropenia (neutropenia that occurs along with a fever). In studies of Ibrance tablets and capsules, febrile neutropenia led to one death. If you develop a fever while taking Ibrance, tell your doctor right away.

Rash

You may develop a skin rash while taking Ibrance. This was one of the more common side effects seen in people taking Ibrance tablets and capsules in studies.

Symptoms of a rash from Ibrance may include:

  • itchiness
  • redness or swelling
  • blistering
  • skin bumps that look similar to acne

What might help

If you get a rash while taking Ibrance, it’s best to tell your doctor. They can help determine if you could be having an allergic reaction.

In most cases, a rash is a mild side effect of Ibrance and not an allergic reaction. But since allergic reactions can quickly become severe, it’s important to tell your doctor about a rash or other skin symptoms right away.

In many cases, rash symptoms can be managed with over-the-counter remedies. For example, your doctor or pharmacist may recommend applying hydrocortisone cream to relieve symptoms.

Allergic reaction

Some people may have an allergic reaction to Ibrance. It’s not clear how many people had allergic reactions in studies of Ibrance tablets or capsules.

Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:

A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include swelling under your skin, typically in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet. They can also include swelling of your tongue, mouth, or throat, which can cause trouble breathing.

Call your doctor right away if you have an allergic reaction to Ibrance. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number.

Costs of prescription drugs can vary depending on many factors. These include what your insurance plan covers and the pharmacy you use.

To find current prices for Ibrance, visit WellRx.com. You may also be able to estimate the drug’s cost per month. Your pharmacist or doctor may be able to help with this, too.

If you have any questions about how to pay for your prescription, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can help you find out what Ibrance may cost with Medicare or other insurance coverage.

You can also visit the Ibrance manufacturer’s website to see if they have support options. And check out this article to learn more about saving money on prescriptions.

Find answers below to some commonly asked questions about Ibrance.

How does Ibrance work? Is it a chemotherapy drug?

Ibrance isn’t a chemotherapy drug. Chemotherapy drugs work by killing cells in the body that are rapidly multiplying (making new cells), including cancer cells. Ibrance doesn’t directly kill cancer cells, but instead it affects how certain cells grow and multiply, including cancer cells.

Ibrance is a type of targeted therapy (a drug that targets only certain cells). Its mechanism of action* is to block specific enzymes† in breast cancer cells called CDK4 and CDK6. Blocking these enzymes stops the cancer cells from growing and multiplying.

Your doctor or pharmacist can provide details about how Ibrance works to treat breast cancer.

* A drug’s mechanism of action is the way the drug works in the body.
† An enzyme is a certain type of protein.

What’s the effectiveness of Ibrance? Will taking it help me reach remission?

Taking Ibrance won’t send your cancer into remission. Remission occurs when the signs of cancer partially or completely disappear after treatment, as shown on certain tests.

Instead, Ibrance is meant to slow the rate of cancer growth and prevent the disease from getting worse.

In studies of Ibrance tablets and capsules, the drug was an effective treatment for certain types of breast cancer. For some people in these studies, the drug helped to increase progression-free survival. Progression-free survival is a measure of how long a person lives without their cancer getting worse.

Read more about the results from Ibrance’s studies on the manufacturer’s website.

Does Ibrance interact with turmeric?

It isn’t known for sure, but Ibrance may interact with turmeric. Turmeric, also called curcumin, is an herb that’s commonly used as a cooking spice and a dietary supplement. Some evidence suggests that turmeric has anticancer effects.

Studies haven’t tested the use of turmeric with Ibrance. It’s possible that taking turmeric could raise the levels of Ibrance in your body, which could increase your risk of side effects. But there’s not enough information to confirm this.*

It’s best to talk with your doctor or pharmacist before taking turmeric. They can help you weigh the risks and benefits of using turmeric or other supplements while taking Ibrance.

* Some research shows that turmeric can decrease the action of an enzyme called CYP3A4. This enzyme works to break down certain drugs in the body, including Ibrance. However, a small research study has since shown that turmeric doesn’t affect this enzyme.

Can Ibrance cause weight gain, back pain, or depression?

No, taking Ibrance shouldn’t cause weight gain, back pain, or depression. These side effects weren’t reported in studies of Ibrance tablets or capsules. But these side effects may be caused by other drugs that can be prescribed with Ibrance.

Ibrance is sometimes taken with a type of drug called an aromatase inhibitor, such as anastrozole (Arimidex). Taking anastrozole can cause depression, weight gain and back pain as possible side effects.

Ibrance is also sometimes prescribed along with a medication called fulvestrant (Faslodex). Back pain and depression are possible side effects of fulvestrant.

If you have questions about these side effects or ways to manage them, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

How long does Ibrance stay in your system?

Ibrance stays in your blood for about 6 days after your last dose. But the drug can have effects on the body even after it’s out of your system.

For this reason, the manufacturer of Ibrance recommends waiting a certain length of time after your last dose before trying to conceive or breastfeed a child. See “What should be considered before taking Ibrance?” below to learn more, or talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

For more detailed information about how long Ibrance stays in your system, you can also read the prescribing information for the tablets and capsules.

Is Ibrance used for lung cancer?

No. Ibrance is only approved to treat certain types of breast cancer. It isn’t approved to treat lung cancer or other types of cancer.

Researchers are looking at the use of Ibrance for certain cases of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). But the results of a recent study weren’t promising. More research is needed to see if Ibrance may improve how well certain other cancer drugs work to treat NSCLC.

Ask your doctor for more information about current treatment options that are best for you.

Your doctor will recommend the dosage of Ibrance that’s right for you. Below are commonly used dosages, but always take the dosage your doctor prescribes.

Forms and strengths

Ibrance comes as a tablet and as a capsule. Both forms of the drug are taken by mouth.

In April 2020, Ibrance’s manufacturer switched to recommending that the tablet form of the drug be prescribed, instead of the capsule form. The tablet can be more convenient than the capsule. This switch is currently in progress and both forms of the drug are currently still available.

Ibrance strengths: 75 mg, 100 mg, 125 mg

Ibrance comes in three strengths: 75 milligrams (mg), 100 mg, and 125 mg.

Recommended dosage

Ibrance is taken once daily along with a hormone therapy. You’ll take your Ibrance dose at the same time each day for 21 days, followed by 7 days of not taking it.

You’ll continue taking Ibrance in this 28-day pattern, called a cycle, according to your doctor’s instructions.

Questions about Ibrance’s dosage

  • What if I miss a dose of Ibrance? If you miss a dose of Ibrance, skip the missed dose. Take your next dose at your usual scheduled time. If you vomit after taking a dose of Ibrance, don’t repeat the dose. Setting an alarm might help you remember to take Ibrance at the same time each day.
  • Will I need to use Ibrance long term? If you and your doctor find that Ibrance works for you and doesn’t cause bothersome or severe side effects, you’ll likely take it long term.
  • How long does Ibrance take to work? Ibrance starts working as soon as you take your first dose. But you won’t be able to feel if the drug is working. Your doctor will do various tests or scans to check how well your treatment is working. Ibrance is meant to slow down your cancer’s growth and keep your cancer from getting worse.

Your doctor will explain how you should take Ibrance. They’ll also explain how much to take and how often. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.

Taking Ibrance

Ibrance comes as a tablet and a capsule that you take by mouth. There isn’t a best time to take Ibrance, but you should take your dose at the same time each day.

You should swallow Ibrance tablets and capsules whole. Do not crush, chew, or split them.

Ibrance tablets can be taken with or without food. If you take Ibrance capsules, you should take your dose with food.

Note: The tablet form of Ibrance can be more convenient to take than the capsules and doctors typically recommend it instead of capsules. If you’re interested in switching from the capsules to the tablets, talk with your doctor about this.

Taking Ibrance with other drugs

Ibrance is prescribed with other medications to treat certain types of breast cancer in adults.

The specific medication your doctor may prescribe with Ibrance depends on several factors. These factors include:

  • whether you’ve already taken a type of cancer treatment called hormone therapy
  • your sex assigned at birth
  • whether you’ve been through menopause

Your doctor will prescribe Ibrance along with the type of medication that’s right for you. There generally isn’t a certain timing that’s necessary between taking Ibrance and other drugs. You’ll take each dose according to your doctor’s instructions.

Ibrance with letrozole or other aromatase inhibitors

Ibrance may be used in females* who’ve been through menopause, or in males,* as long as you haven’t taken hormone therapy before. For this use, Ibrance is prescribed with a type of drug called an aromatase inhibitor. These drugs work to lower the levels of the hormone estrogen in your body.

Aromatase inhibitors include:

* Use of the terms “female” and “male” within this article refer to a person’s sex assigned at birth. For information about the difference between sex and gender, see this article.

Ibrance with Faslodex

Ibrance is also prescribed to treat certain breast cancers in people whose cancers got worse after past hormone therapy. For this use, Ibrance is prescribed with fulvestrant (Faslodex). Fulvestrant blocks hormone receptors (docking stations), which reduces the effects of hormones on cancer cells.

Ibrance with LHRH agonists

Ibrance is sometimes prescribed with a drug called a luteinizing hormone-releasing hormone (LHRH) agonist. This is a type of hormone therapy that lowers the amount of hormones your body makes.

Doctors will prescribe Ibrance with an LHRH agonist for:

  • males* taking Ibrance with an aromatase inhibitor
  • females* who haven’t been through menopause and take Ibrance with fulvestrant

Examples of LHRH agonists include:

* Use of the terms “male” and “female” within this article refer to a person’s sex assigned at birth. For information about the difference between sex and gender, see this article.

Questions about taking Ibrance

Here are two common questions and answers about taking Ibrance.

  • Can Ibrance be chewed, crushed, or split? No, Ibrance capsules and tablets should be swallowed whole. You should not chew, crush, or split Ibrance. If the capsule or tablet is damaged, broken, or cracked, you shouldn’t take it. And the capsule should not be opened.
  • Should I take Ibrance with food? If you take Ibrance capsules, you should take your dose with food. If you take Ibrance tablets, you may take your dose with or without food.
Questions for your doctor

You may have questions about Ibrance and your treatment plan. It’s important to discuss all your concerns with your doctor.

Here are a few tips that might help guide your discussion:

  • Before your appointment, write down questions such as:
    • How will Ibrance affect my body, mood, or lifestyle?
  • Bring someone with you to your appointment if doing so will help you feel more comfortable.
  • If you don’t understand something related to your condition or treatment, ask your doctor to explain it to you.

Remember, your doctor and other healthcare professionals are available to help you. And they want you to get the best care possible. So, don’t be afraid to ask questions or offer feedback on your treatment.

Ibrance is taken with other medications in certain adults to treat advanced or metastatic* breast cancer that is:

  • Hormone-receptor positive (HR+): With HR+ breast cancer, the cancer cells have unusually high levels of hormone receptors (docking stations). The growth of these cancer cells is fueled when hormones, such as estrogen or progesterone, attach to these receptors.
  • Human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) negative: HER2 is a protein that’s involved in the process that cells use to grow and multiply (make more cells). HER2-negative cancer cells don’t have unusually high levels of this protein.

Ibrance is prescribed with drugs known as hormone therapies. These may include an aromatase inhibitor, fulvestrant (Faslodex), or an LHRH agonist.

Specifically, Ibrance may be prescribed with an aromatase inhibitor in males† or females† who’ve been through menopause and haven’t had hormone therapy before. Ibrance can also be prescribed with fulvestrant in people whose cancer got worse after past hormone therapy. (For more information, see “How is Ibrance taken?” above.)

* Metastatic cancer is cancer that’s spread to other parts of the body.
† Use of the terms “male” and “female” within this article refer to a person’s sex assigned at birth. For information about the difference between sex and gender, see this article.

How Ibrance works

Ibrance is a type of targeted therapy. This means it targets only certain cells in your body.

The drug works to block specific enzymes* in breast cancer cells called CDK4 and CDK6. Blocking these enzymes stops the cancer cells from growing and multiplying (making new cells). See “What are some frequently asked questions about Ibrance?” above for details.

Your doctor or pharmacist can provide details about how Ibrance works to treat breast cancer.

* An enzyme is a certain type of protein.

If you’d like to know more about how Ibrance compares with alternative drugs, such as Verzenio, ask your doctor. They can recommend the drug that’s best for your condition.

Ibrance vs. Verzenio

Check out this side-by-side comparison of Ibrance and Verzenio to find out more about these two drugs.

Ibrance vs. Kisqali

To learn how Ibrance and Kisqali are similar and different, see this article.

There are some important things to discuss with your doctor when considering Ibrance treatment. These include your health history, other medical conditions you have, and any other treatments you may be taking.

Interactions

Taking a medication with certain other drugs, foods, and other things can affect how the medication works. These effects are called interactions.

Before taking Ibrance, be sure to tell your doctor about all medications you take, including prescription and over-the-counter types. Also describe any vitamins, herbs, or supplements you use. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you about any interactions these items may cause with Ibrance.

Interactions with drugs, vitamins, or supplements

Ibrance can interact with several types of medications. These include certain:

  • antifungal drugs
  • antibiotics
  • HIV medications
  • tuberculosis drugs
  • seizure medications
  • ergotamine drugs used to treat migraine
  • immunosuppressants (drugs that reduce the activity of your immune system)
  • heart medications
  • fentanyl, which is an opioid prescribed for severe long-term pain
  • St. John’s wort, an herbal supplement

This list does not contain all types of drugs that may interact with Ibrance. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you more about these interactions and any others that may occur with use of Ibrance.

Foods to avoid with Ibrance

Grapefruit can interact with Ibrance. You should avoid eating grapefruit or drinking grapefruit juice during Ibrance treatment. Doing so may increase the levels of Ibrance in your body and make side effects more likely.

Warnings

Ibrance may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. Talk with your doctor about your health history before you take Ibrance. Factors to consider include those in the list below.

  • Severe liver problems. If you’ve had liver problems, tell your doctor before taking Ibrance. They may recommend a blood test to check how well your liver is working. If they find that your liver problems are severe, they’ll likely prescribe a lower dose of Ibrance for you than usual.
  • Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Ibrance or any of its ingredients, your doctor will likely not prescribe it. Ask your doctor what other medications are better options for you. Note that Ibrance capsules contain lactose and gelatin, but Ibrance tablets do not.

Ibrance and alcohol

Alcohol doesn’t directly interact with Ibrance. But drinking alcohol while taking Ibrance may lead to worsened side effects.

Taking Ibrance may cause sores or irritation in your mouth. It’s best to avoid using mouthwashes that contain alcohol, as this can make mouth sores from Ibrance worse.

Also, drinking alcohol may cause some of the same side effects as Ibrance. For example, both alcohol and Ibrance may cause headaches and stomach problems, such as nausea and vomiting.

If you drink alcohol, talk with your doctor about how much is safe for you to drink while taking Ibrance.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Ibrance isn’t safe to use while pregnant or breastfeeding. The drug may have harmful effects on a fetus or a breastfed child.

Females* who are able to become pregnant should use birth control during Ibrance treatment and for at least 3 weeks after their last dose. Males* with female partners who are able to become pregnant should use birth control during Ibrance treatment and for at least 3 months after their last dose. For more information, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Before starting Ibrance, tell your doctor if you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or considering either. They can recommend treatments that are safe for you.

* Use of the terms “female” and “male” within this article refer to a person’s sex assigned at birth. For information about the difference between sex and gender, see this article.

Do not take more Ibrance than your doctor prescribes. Using more than this can lead to serious side effects.

What to do in case you take too much Ibrance

Call your doctor if you think you’ve taken too much Ibrance. You can also call 800-222-1222 to reach the American Association of Poison Control Centers or use its online resource. If you have severe symptoms, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number. Or go to the nearest emergency room.

Ibrance can be an effective treatment option for adults with certain types of breast cancer. If you’re considering this medication as a treatment option, it’s important to talk with your doctor about any questions or concerns you may have.

Here are some questions to start your conversation with your doctor:

  • Is it safe to continue taking my other medications while taking Ibrance?
  • Can I use natural remedies to help prevent or ease the side effects of Ibrance?
  • Can I get vaccines, such as the flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine, while taking Ibrance?
  • Is the Ibrance capsule or tablet a better choice for me?

To learn more about breast cancer treatment options and read inspiring stories from other people with breast cancer, sign up for Healthline’s breast cancer newsletter.

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 another 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.