Gleevec is the brand name of imatinib, a cancer drug that treats several types of cancer, including skin cancers, certain stomach and digestive system tumors, bone marrow disorders, and many types of leukemia. This medication works by interfering with certain proteins that assist tumors with growing and spreading into further areas. This can stop the growth of the cancer cells.

This medication was first FDA-approved in 2001, and generics of Gleevec are now on the market. It’s used in both adults and children and is in a class of medications known as tyrosine kinase inhibitors.

Precautions and Warnings of Gleevec

Taking this medication can cause you to have fewer blood cells that help fight off infections and help with blood clotting. This can mean bleeding more easily and a higher risk of picking up infections. If you get body aches, fever, or chills, you may have an infection and need to call your doctor. Also, let your doctor know if you are bleeding or bruising more easily. If you have existing liver disease, tell your doctor before you start this medication.

Gleevec can put you at a higher risk of developing liver problems. Tell your doctor immediately if you get clay-colored stools, dark urine, pain in the upper stomach, or jaundice. There is also a higher risk of developing heart problems and fluid retention. If you get a lot of swelling or gain weight rapidly, you’ll need to call your doctor. Also, call if you get a weak pulse, fast or slow heart rate, fainting, or shortness of breath. If you already have heart failure or heart disease, make sure your doctor knows.

It’s also important to tell your doctor if you have any bleeding problems, a current infection, kidney disease, allergies to this medication or to other medications, stomach problems, or lung disease. If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, your doctor needs to know this right away.

Talk to your doctor about your medical history, including whether your thyroid gland has been removed and any other surgeries you’ve had. Gleevec can cause you to be drowsy or dizzy, and it can cause blurry vision. You can get even drowsier and dizzier if you also use alcohol or cannabis. Don’t drive on this medication until you’re sure about how it affects you. If you do drink alcohol, limit the amount you consume. If you’re using cannabis, discuss it with your doctor and how it could make your side effects worse.

Because your immune system will be lowered, try to stay away from anyone with an infectious disease. Don’t go near people with infections like chickenpox, the flu, Covid-19, etc. If you already have an infection, this medication can make it worse. You shouldn’t get live vaccines while taking this medication, and you should stay away from anyone who has recently had one. A common live vaccine is the inhaled flu vaccine.

Try not to do activities that can lead to you being bruised or cut. Be careful with sharp objects and activities like sports. When a child takes this medication, it can cause their growth to slow down. It’s currently unknown how this affects the final height of patients who take Gleevec as children. Your child’s doctor will likely want to monitor your child’s height and weight closely. If you’re an older adult, you will have a higher instance of swelling from this medication.

If you’re pregnant or could get pregnant, don’t handle this medication or breathe in any dust from it. It can cause harm to the baby. If you’re taking this medication, it’s essential to use effective birth control. Your doctor will likely test you for pregnancy before you start this medication. If you get pregnant while you’re taking it, call your doctor right away. It’s not recommended for mothers to breastfeed while taking this medication, as it does pass into breast milk, and it can harm the baby.

Gleevec Side Effects

There are many different side effects that patients may experience while taking Gleevec. Some patients don’t have any side effects, and some people have severe effects that need to be reported to their doctors. It’s possible for side effects to fade after you’ve taken the medication for a few days to a few weeks.

Common Side Effects

Some of the common side effects of Gleevec include:

  • Feeling tired
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Fluid retention
  • Skin rash
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Stomach pain and/or diarrhea
  • Decreased appetite
  • Heartburn
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle cramps
  • Headache

Severe Side Effects

If you have any of these side effects, tell your doctor right away:

  • Symptoms of fluid in the lungs – wheezing, coughing up foamy mucus, painful breathing, gasping for breath
  • Signs of low blood cells – mouth sores, light-headedness, cold feet and hands, unusual bleeding, cold symptoms, body aches, fever
  • Symptoms of bleeding in the stomach – coughing up blood, vomit that appears like coffee grounds, tarry stools, bloody stools
  • Tumor cell breakdown symptoms – muscle cramps, tingling around the mouth or in hands and feet, slow or fast heart rate, weakness, confusion
  • Symptoms of a thyroid problem – hair loss, depression, dry skin, weight gain, slow heart rate, feeling cold, fatigue, constipation
  • Signs of an allergic reaction – swelling in throat or face, difficulty breathing, hives

Drug Interactions With Gleevec

There are many types of medications that can interact badly with Gleevec. These include many antivirals, antibiotics, and antifungal medications. It can also include seizure medications, blood thinners, and supplements that include iron. Herbs like St. John’s Wort can interact, as can ergot medications and cholesterol drugs. Your doctor may want you to avoid OTC pain medications such as acetaminophen and aspirin as well. Avoid eating grapefruit, drinking grapefruit juice, or taking supplements that include grapefruit extract. Be sure to tell your doctor about every single thing you take whether it’s a prescription drug or OTC. This includes vitamin compounds, minerals, herbs, and any other supplements.

Strengths and Dosages of Gleevec

Gleevec comes as a tablet that is swallowed. It is available in 100 mg and 400 mg strengths. The 400 mg is available either in a bottle or in a blister pack that can make it harder for kids to get ahold of the medication. The dosage that you’re prescribed will depend on the specific illness that you’re taking it to treat. This may be anywhere from 100 mg a day to 800 mg a day. Your dosage may also depend on how well you tolerate the medication and how well it works for you.

Gleevec tablets:100 mg, 400 mg

FAQs of Gleevec

What to avoid when taking Gleevec?

Avoid contact sports and using sharp objects because this medication can cause you to bruise or bleed more easily. Also avoid grapefruit and St. John’s wort as well as a number of medications that can interact with it.

What kind of inhibitor is Gleevec?

This medication is a tyrosine kinase inhibitor.

How long do Gleevec side effects last?

It’s possible to have side effects that go away after a few days to a few weeks as your body gets used to it. There are also side effects that will last for as long as you continue taking the medication.

How does Gleevec work?

This drug has an effect on proteins that help the growth and spread of tumors, interfering with them and stopping or slowing the growth of the cancer cells.

What is Gleevec prescribed for?

It’s prescribed for several types of leukemia as well as various other cancers. It’s a type of chemotherapy.

When was Gleevec approved?

Gleevec was a medical breakthrough when it came out on the market. It was approved in 2001.

What is the cost of Gleevec in America?

The cost depends on the strength of the tablets as well as the specific pharmacy that you use and any programs you’re using to bring the cost down. The name brand Gleevec costs about $8,900 for 90 doses of 100 mg.

Is there a generic for Gleevec?

Yes, there is a generic of this medication. MyRx Outlet offers generics of Imatinib to help Americans battle the rising costs of medication.

Are there Gleevec alternatives?

Yes, there are a number of other drugs that are prescribed for leukemia and the other illnesses that Gleevec is prescribed for. These include Tasigna, Sprycel, Bosulif, Dasatinib, Hydroxyurea and Hydrea.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The information provided here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. It should not be taken as an endorsement of any specific medication or treatment. Individual health conditions and responses to treatment can vary greatly; therefore, this information should not be seen as a guarantee of safety, suitability, or effectiveness for any particular individual. Always consult with a healthcare professional for personalized medical advice and before making any decisions regarding your health or treatment plans.

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