Ibrutinib is a prescription cancer medication that was FDA-approved in 2013. It is an oral treatment used to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia /small lymphocytic lymphoma and chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic leukemia for certain patients who have 17p deletion and Waldenstrom macroglobulinemia. This medication can also be used to treat chronic graft-versus-host disease if other types of treatments have failed and the patient is at least one year old.

This drug interferes with cancer cell growth. When this happens, the body ends up destroying those cells. This medication inhibits a specific enzyme, known as Bruton’s tyrosine kinase. It bonds with the enzyme and keeps it from its activity. Imbruvica can be used on its own or along with other medications to treat blood cancers.

Precautions and Warnings With Imbruvica

Before taking this medication, let your doctor know if you’ve ever had an allergic reaction. You also need to tell the doctor about your health history. This is especially true when you have ever had bleeding or blood problems, high blood pressure, any heart problems such as a heart attack, liver problems, kidney problems, or high uric acid levels in your blood.

This medication can cause you to feel dizzy if you take cannabis or use alcohol while on this medication. Before you drive on this medication, you need to know how it affects you and whether you will be too dizzy or tired to drive.

Ibrutinib can increase your risk of developing various infections, and if you already have one, it can make it worse. Don’t go near people who have infectious diseases such as measles or Covid-19. Stay away from people who have recently received a live vaccine. If you need a vaccine, tell them you take this medication.

This medication also makes you bleed and bruise more easily. Take extra care when you do things like shave or clip your nails. Avoid contact sports and other activities that can make bruising and bleeding more likely. Tell your dentist or doctor that you take this medication before you have any surgery. Older adults have a higher risk of developing bleeding, low red blood cells, high blood pressure, and an irregular or fast heartbeat.

Pregnant women shouldn’t take Imbruvica. If you’re pregnant, don’t handle the tablets or breathe in any dust from them. You can absorb this medication through your lungs and skin. Breathing this in or handling it can cause harm to the baby. If you’re on this medication, don’t become pregnant. You’ll have a pregnancy test before taking this medication if you can get pregnant. Both men and women can cause harm to a baby if they take this medication at the time of conception. It isn’t known whether this medication ends up in breast milk. However, it’s not recommended to breastfeed while on this medication.

It’s possible to develop a severe hemorrhage in various areas of the body, including the gastrointestinal tract, while on Imbruvica. You will need to be monitored to watch for any signs of bleeding. If it happens, you must be changed to a different medication. If you’re going to have surgery, you may need to stop taking it for a while before and after the surgery because of the bleeding risk. Signs of bleeding can include confusion, speech problems, bloody vomit, urine that’s pink or brown, and bloody and black stools.

This medication can also increase your risk of developing other types of cancer, including non-melanoma skin cancer. Use sunscreen and protective clothing to reduce your risk of problems outdoors. Limiting your time outdoors can also be helpful.

Rarely, a patient may develop Tumor Lysis syndrome. The symptoms of this include muscle cramps, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting.

Imbruvica Side Effects

There is a wide range of side effects that can occur with Imbruvica. If you have side effects that bother you, let your doctor know. You may need to have your dosage checked or to change to an alternate medication.

Common Side Effects

Some of the most common side effects include:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Loss or lack of strength
  • Belching
  • Indigestion or heartburn
  • Muscle spasms or stiffness
  • Mouth inflammation or swelling
  • Difficulty with bowel movements
  • Stomach pain or discomfort
  • Small purple or red spots appearing on the skin

Serious Side Effects

There are also more serious side effects that can occur. Tell your doctor if you have any of these or other serious side effects:

  • Bladder pain
  • Blurry vision
  • Chills
  • Swelling or bloating of the feet, hands, legs, arms, or face
  • Back pain
  • Tarry, bloody, or black stools
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Decreased urine
  • Cough
  • Fainting
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Itching
  • Seizures
  • Hoarseness
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Vomiting blood or “coffee grounds”
  • Wrinkled skin

Drug Interactions With Imbruvica

There are many categories of drugs that can interact badly with Imbruvica. Some of these include:

  • Certain CYP3A inducers, including rifampin (Rifadin), glucocorticoids, phenobarbital, carbamazepine (Tegretol), and phenytoin (Dilantin)
  • Certain CYP3A inhibitors, including nefazodone, atazanavir, clarithromycin (Biaxin), itraconazole (Sporanox), erythromycin, ketoconazole, grapefruit juice, and verapamil
  • Medications that cause bruising or bleeding such as NSAIDs like naproxen and ibuprofen, clopidogrel (Plavix), and blood thinners such as dabigatran (Pradaxa) and warfarin
  • Aspirin generally shouldn’t be taken because it can increase bleeding, but don’t stop taking it for preventing strokes and heart attacks unless ordered to stop taking it.
  • John’s wort
  • Protease inhibitors for HIV like saquinavir

Imbruvica Strengths and Dosages

This medication is available in capsule, tablet, and oral suspension forms. The capsules are available in strengths of 70 mg and 140 mg. Tablets are available in strengths of 140 mg, 280 mg, and 420 mg. The oral suspension is a strength of 70 mg/mL. The dosage that you take will depend on the disease you have as well as certain other factors. A typical dose for many of these diseases is 420 mg a day, but less may be prescribed for certain problems.

Capsule:70 mg, 140 mg
Tablet:140 mg, 280 mg, 420 mg
Oral suspension:70 mg/mL

Cost of Imbruvica in America

The cost often depends on the strength that you get and where you get the prescription filled. It also depends on whether you use a coupon card or you have health insurance. It’s an expensive drug that can cost about $18,000 for a supply of 90 pills at the 140 mg strength. The manufacturer also makes an Imbruvica Copay Card that will lower the price, and there are also other coupon cards that you can use to bring the price down.

FAQs of Imbruvica

Who makes Imbruvica?

AbbVie makes this medication.

What is Imbruvica used for?

It’s a prescription drug that’s used to treat certain blood cancers. It can keep cancer cells from growing so that the body will destroy them.

How long does it take for Imbruvica to work?

This medication is absorbed quickly and starts to work right away.

How long does it take for Imbruvica to leave your system?

Generally, this type of drug is completely out of the system within two days. The half-life of this drug is about four to six hours.

How to store Imbruvica?

This medication should be stored in a tight, closed container that stays at room temperature. It should be kept away from direct light, moisture, and heat. Do not freeze this medication.

When was Imbruvica approved?

It was approved in 2013.

Can you take this medication while pregnant?

No, this should not be taken during pregnancy. It also shouldn’t be taken while breastfeeding because of the risk to the baby.

Can this medication cause side effects?

Yes, though many people don’t get any side effects from it. It can cause anything from coughing to weakness to vomiting. Severe effects should be reported to your doctor.

Can you drink alcohol while taking Imbruvica?

It’s not recommended that you drink any alcohol while using it. The medication can cause dizziness, and alcohol just makes it worse.

Are there alternatives to Imbruvica?

There are several alternatives to this medication that may be used if this drug doesn’t work for a patient or causes severe side effects. These include Venclexta, Rituximab, Truxima, Rituxan, Acalabrutinib and Calquence.

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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