Verzenio is a type of breast cancer medication that contains the active ingredient abemaceclib. Verzenio is typically prescribed to patients who have HER2-negative, hormone receptor-positive breast cancer. Verzenio is also prescribed for patients who have early-stage breast cancer and cancer cells have been found in their lymph nodes.

Abemaceclib is a type of medicine known as cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK) inhibitors. Cyclin and cyclin-dependent kinases are proteins that manage cell division. Patients with cancer often have malfunctioning cyclin and CDK proteins that allow rapid, uncontrolled cell division. This malfunction allows tumors to grow. Abemaceclib blocks CDK proteins from performing their usual roles, reducing the cancer growth rate.

Specifically, this medicine is appropriate for patients who have advanced or metastatic breast cancer with the following characteristics:

  • The patient has gone through menopause
  • Cancer kept growing after hormonal therapy
  • Cancer kept growing after chemotherapy

Verzenio Precautions and Warnings

Do not use Verzenio if you are allergic to abemaceclib or other ingredients. Tell your doctor about all your allergies, any past adverse reactions to medicine, and your complete medical history. Verzenio may not be safe for patients with a history of liver disease, kidney disease, blood clots, or lung or breathing disorders.

Verzenio may be harmful to unborn babies. You should not take Verzenio if you are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. You may need to have a negative pregnancy test before starting this medication. Patients should not breastfeed while on Verzenio.

Side Effects of Verzenio

Verzenio’s side effects can be mild, severe, or even life-threatening. Additionally, patients who take Verzenio with other cancer treatments like chemotherapy may have more severe side effects. Verzenio can cause life-threatening diarrhea. Report any diarrhea symptoms to your doctor at once. You should speak to your doctor about what to expect when taking Verzenio.

Mild Side Effects

Mild Verzenio side effects include:

  • Headache
  • Poor appetite
  • Constipation
  • Nausea, vomiting, or stomach pain
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising

Severe Side Effects

Tell your doctor immediately if you notice any of these more severe Verzenio side effects:

  • Allergic reactions such as a rash, itching, hives, or swelling of the lips, tongue, or face
  • Chest pain
  • Shortness of breath or trouble breathing
  • Pain, swelling, or fever in the leg
  • Cough
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever or chills
  • Cough or sore throat
  • Pain when urinating or difficulty urinating
  • Pale stools
  • Dark urine
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Pain in the upper right abdomen
  • Unusual tiredness
  • Yellowing skin or eyes
  • Stroke symptoms

Drug Interactions with Verzenio

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take since some medications interfere with Verzenio. Additionally, you must not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice while taking Verzenio. Drug interactions include:

Strengths and Dosages of Verzenio

Verzenio is available as 50, 100, 150, and 200mg tablets. The typical Verzenio dosage depends on the patient’s type of cancer as well as other treatments being used.

ConditionVerzenio DosageOther Treatments RecommendedDuration
Early-stage breast cancer150mg twice a dayTamoxifan or an aromatose inhibitor2+ years, until cancer progresses or patient stops tolerating treatment
Advanced or metastatic breast cancer200mg twice a dayNoneUntil cancer progresses or patient stops tolerating treatment
Advanced or metastatic breast cancer150mg twice a dayAromatase inhibitorUntil cancer progresses or patient stops tolerating treatment
Advanced or metastatic breast cancer150mg twice a dayFulvestrant 500 mg IM on Days 1, 15, and 29, and then once monthlyUntil cancer progresses or patient stops tolerating treatment

Cost of Verzenio in America

A 14-tablet supply of Verzenio costs around $4,000 in America. The cost is usually the same regardless of the tablet strength, so 14 days is a two-week prescription. Patients may be able to lower their costs through insurance coverage, patient assistance programs, coupons, discount cards, free samples, and more.

What is Verzenio So Expensive?

Verzenio is a specialty cancer drug that’s only available through specialty pharmacies and hospitals. It is also only available as a name-brand drug. These factors raise the price.

Alternatives to Verzenio

Verzenio is the only medication that contains abemaciclib. However, other kinase inhibitors can treat cancer, including:

Verzenio FAQs

What is Verzenio used for?

Verzenio is a breast cancer drug used to treat HR-positive, HER2-negative cancer. It’s prescribed to patients with advanced or metastatic cancer if they have gone through menopause, or if previous hormone therapy or hormone therapy and chemotherapy have not been successful. It’s also prescribed to patients with early-stage breast cancer if cancer cells have moved to the lymph nodes.

What happens when you stop taking Verzenio?

Verzenio is typically prescribed until either a patient is cancer-free, or the medicine becomes intolerable. Verzenio blocks cell growth and division, so stopping Verzenio allows normal cell processes to begin again. Patients who still have active tumors may experience cancer growth or metastasis if they stop taking Verzenio.

How long do you take Verzenio?

Verzenio is typically prescribed as a long-term medication. Patients who tolerate Verzenio and respond well to the treatment may take Verzenio for the rest of their lives.

How long does Verzenio stay in your system?

Verzenio stays in your system for about three weeks after you stop taking it. Patients should not try to become pregnant or breastfeed for at least three weeks after stopping Verzenio because the medicine could harm unborn or young babies.

How effective is Verzenio?

Studies have shown that between 17-20% of patients who take Verzenio alone saw a tumor reduction of up to 30%.

Patients who took Verzenio with fulvestrant lived for a median of 9.4 months longer than patients who took fulvestrant alone. Patients who took both Verzenio and fulvestrant also had a delayed disease progression of a median of 7.1 months compared to patients who only took fulvestrant.

Patients who took Verzenio with an aromatase inhibitor (AI), which prevents hormones from transforming into estrogen, had a median 13.4-month delayed disease progression compared to patients who used only an AI. More patients who used Verzenio and an AI saw tumor shrinkage. Additionally, 3.4% of patients who took both Verzenio and an AI showed no further signs of cancer compared to 0% of patients who only took the AI.

When was Verzenio FDA approved?

The FDA approved Verzenio in March 2023.

When do Verzenio side effects start?

Verzenio side effects can start in the first week. Diarrhea is the most common early side effect.

How does Verzenio compare with Ibrance?

Verzenio and Ibrance are both CDK-inhibitors so they both target cell growth. One major difference is the dosing schedule. Verzenio should be taken every day while Ibrance is taken for three weeks with a one-week break. The medicines also have different side effects. Verzenio’s main side effect is diarrhea while Ibrance’s main side effect is low white blood cell count, which can cause low immune system responses.

Is there a generic Verzenio?

No, there is not a generic for Verzenio. This medication is only available as a name-brand drug from Eli Lilly and Company.

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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