Gleevec

1 What is Gleevec?

Brand: Gleevec

Generic: Imatinib

Gleevec is used for the treatment of different types of cancers or bone marrow conditions, either alone or in combination with other drugs. It is an antineoplastic drug, which means that it stops the groeth of cancer cells.

Imatinib is used for these conditions:

This medicine is available only with your doctor's prescription.

This product is available in the following dosage forms:

  • Tablet
  • Capsule

2 What to Know Before using

Before using Gleevec, you must know all about the risks and complications associated with it.

Every medicine has potential side effects. So, the benefits of a drug should always be weighed against its associated risks. Your doctor will consider these risks before prescribing the drug and will inform you about them. Following factors should be considered before taking this drug:

  • Allergies: If you have had an allergic reaction to this drug in the past, inform your doctor. You should also tell your healthcare provider if you are allergic to any other drugs or food products.
  • Age specific problems: The data regarding the effects of this medicine specific to the pediatric age group is not yet available. Its safety and efficacy has not been established in children younger than 12 years of age. 
  • The studies specific to the geriatric age group have not been carried out, that would limit the use of this drug in old age group.
  • Pregnancy: Regarding the safety of usage of this drug during pregnancy, it comes under “D” category, which means that clinical trials on animals have revealed harmful effects to the developing fetus.
  • Drug Interactions: Certain drugs should not be used together because they can interact inside the body which can have a harmful effect. On the other hand certain drugs are allowed to be used together. So, you should tell your doctor about any other medications you are taking.  If there is a chance of interaction between those two drugs, the doctor may change the dose or may prescribe an alternative drug.

This drug should be used cautiously with following drugs:

  • Conivaptan
  • Eliglustat
  • Eletriptan
  • Flibanserin
  • Ivabradine
  • Isavuconazonium Sulfate
  • Lomitapide
  • Naloxegol
  • Maraviroc
  • Tolvaptan

Furthermore, certain medications should not be taken with alcohol or tobacco, which may also result in harmful interactions. Ask your doctor about the concurrent use of this drug along with alcohol or tobacco. 

You should also inform your doctor about any other medical condition you may be suffering from, especially:

  • Bleeding problems 
  • Ascites (fluid in the abdomen) 
  • Anemia 
  • Congestive heart failure 
  • Infection 
  • Neutropenia (low white blood cells) 
  • Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) 
  • Pleural effusion (fluid around the lungs) 
  • Pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs) 
  • Pericardial effusion (fluid around the heart) 
  • Stomach perforation (hole in the stomach) 
  • Liver disease—Use with caution. The effects may be increased because of slower removal of the medicine from the body.
  • Stomach bleeding 
  • Thrombocytopenia (low platelets in the blood)—Use with caution. May make these conditions Kidney disease worse
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3 Proper Usage

To use Gleevec properly, you must follow all instructions given by your doctor.

This drug should be taken with plenty of water and food in order to prevent stomach upset. You swallow the whole tablet without breaking or crushing it. Avoid drinking grapefruit juice while you are taking this drug. 

Grape fruit or grapefruit juice can increase the blood levels of this drug. To avoid adverse effects, this drug should be used exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not overuse or misuse this drug and do not use it longer than the recommended time. Read all the instructions mentioned in the medication guide. 

Do not miss any dose. The dose of this drug varies according to the condition of each person. The number of doses per day, the time interval between the doses and the length of time you have to take the medicine depends on your condition individually and all these factors should only be determined by your healthcare provider. 

Follow each and every instruction of your doctor and also read the label carefully. In case you miss one dose of this drug, take it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your subsequent dose, you can then skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not take two doses at once.

Storage: This medicine should be stored at room temperature within a closed container, away from heat, direct light and moisture. Keep this drug out of the reach of children. Do not store expired or outdated medicines or the medicine no longer needed. 

4 Precautions to Take

Before using Gleevec, there are some precautions you must take.

Serious skin reactions can occur during treatment with this medicine. Check with your doctor right away if you have blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin, red skin lesions, severe acne or skin rash, sores or ulcers on the skin, or fever or chills while you are using this medicine.

Using this medicine while you are pregnant can harm your unborn baby. Use a highly effective form of birth control (especially if you are a sexually active female patient) to keep from getting pregnant. If you think you have become pregnant while using the medicine, tell your doctor right away.

  • Some serious side effects such as black, tarry stools, severe stomach pain, or vomiting of blood or material that looks like coffee grounds can occur during treatment with this medicine

Regular follow-up is necessary during and after the treatment. It is important to allow your doctor to monitor your progress and to make sure that there aren’t any side effects from the medication. Contact your doctor if your symptoms have not improved even after taking the full course of treatment. 

The doctor may order some blood tests in order to determine the blood levels of the drug.  Avoid taking any other medicine unless thoroughly discussed with your doctor. Always ask your doctor before using any prescription, non-prescription or herbal medicine. 

5 Potential Side Effects

As with many medications, there are several potential side effects associated with Gleevec. Although these side effects may occur only in a handful of patients but if they do occur, contact your physician immediately.

This medication is associated with following side effects:

  • Abdominal or stomach pain, cramping, burning, or tenderness
  • bloody eye
  • bleeding from wound after surgery
  • bleeding gums
  • bloating or swelling of the face, hands, lower legs, or feet
  • blood in the urine
  • bloody nose
  • blue lips and fingernails
  • blurred vision
  • chest pain or discomfort
  • body aches or pain
  • chills
  • cough
  • coughing up blood
  • clay-colored stools
  • coughing that sometimes produces a pink frothy sputum
  • decrease in the amount of urine
  • diarrhea
  • decreased appetite
  • decreased urination
  • difficult or labored breathing
  • dizziness
  • difficulty with swallowing
  • dry mouth
  • general feeling of discomfort or illness
  • ear congestion
  • fever
  • headache
  • increased menstrual flow or vaginal bleeding
  • inability to speak
  • increased thirst
  • irregular heartbeat
  • itching
  • joint pain
  • loss of voice
  • large, flat, blue, or purplish patches on the skin
  • loss of appetite
  • mood changes
  • muscle cramps
  • muscle aches and pain
  • nausea and vomiting
  • noisy, rattling breathing
  • numbness or tingling in the hands, feet, or lips
  • nosebleed
  • pain or tenderness around the eyes and cheekbones
  • pale skin
  • painful or difficult urination
  • prolonged bleeding from cuts
  • red or dark brown urine
  • rapid weight gain
  • red, black, bloody, or tarry stools
  • shivering
  • redness of the eye
  • seizures
  • shortness of breath
  • slurred speech
  • skin rash
  • small red or purple spots on the skin
  • sores, ulcers, or white spots on the lips or in the mouth
  • sneezing
  • sore throat
  • stuffy or runny nose
  • sweating
  • swelling in the legs and ankles
  • swollen glands
  • tightness in the chest
  • temporary blindness
  • trouble sleeping
  • troubled breathing at rest
  • unusual bleeding or bruising
  • troubled breathing when moving or walking
  • unusual tiredness or weakness
  • weakness in the arm or leg on one side of the body, sudden and severe
  • vomiting of blood or material that looks like coffee grounds
  • yellow eyes or skin

Seek medical help instantly, if you experience any of these symptoms while on this medication. Also contact your healthcare professional immediately, if have overdosed on this drug. 

If any of these side effects becomes more bothersome or does not go away, contact your doctor.

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