Imatinib is used to treat chronic myelogenous leukaemia or CML (a type of cancer where the bone marrow produces too many of the white blood cells called granulocytes).
This medicine is also used to treat cancer of the skin, stomach, and intestines.
Take Imatinib exactly as directed by your doctor or according to the instructions on the label. Do not take more or less than instructed by your doctor.
Take it together with a meal and a large glass of water. Try to take it at the same time each day.
If you have difficulty swallowing the tablet, you may either dissolve it in a glass of water or apple juice. Stir and drink it immediately. Do not divide, chew or crush the tablet.
The dose of this medicine will be decided by your doctor. Your doctor will advise you on the treatment timeframe depending on the type and severity of your disease.
Imatinib must be taken regularly for it to be effective. Continue taking this medicine even when you feel better. Do not stop taking it unless instructed by the doctor.
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and return to your normal dosing schedule.
DO NOT double a dose under any circumstances.
If you often forget to take your medicine, let your doctor and pharmacist know.
Do not breastfeed while you are being treated with this medicine and for 1 month after stopping treatment.
Inform your doctor if you have the following conditions:
- heart disease
- lung disease
- thyroid disease
- kidney disease
- liver disease
Let your doctor know if you are pregnant.
It is important that you do not get pregnant while being treated with this medicine. You may wish to discuss birth control methods with your doctor or pharmacist.
Be sure to check with your doctor or pharmacist before giving Imatinib to a child or an elderly. Children and the elderly may be more sensitive to the side effects.
Keep your appointments with your doctor. Your doctor needs to monitor your condition and check your response to the medication regularly.
- Routine tests (e.g. liver/kidney function, thyroid hormone level, complete blood counts) may be done while you are being treated with this medicine.
- Regular monitoring of weight, symptoms of skin reaction, stomach and bowels condition may also be needed.
Your doctor will advise you about how often you need to have these tests.
Imatinib may cause drowsiness, dizziness or blurred vision. If affected, do not drive or take part in any activity in which you need to be alert or need to see clearly.
Other side effects include any of the following: headache, weakness, tiredness, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, stomach pain, stomach wind, constipation, heartburn, dry mouth, changes in taste, muscle and joint pain, joint swelling, loss of appetite, rash, itching, dry skin, hair loss, nail changes, redness of the skin, nosebleed, night sweats, fever, chills, dry eye, swelling in the eyes or eyelids and tearing, difficulty sleeping, and stunted growth in children.
Some side effects may need immediate medical help. Alert your doctor quickly if you experience any of the following:
- pass out blood or black, tarry stools or vomit coffee-ground-like vomitus
- yellowing of the skin or eyes, abdominal pain, dark coloured urine
- swelling in the legs and around your eyes
- rashes with skin peeling or blistering of the lips, mouth or eyes accompanied by fever
This medicine will cause the level of your red blood cells, white blood cells and platelets to drop.
Red blood cells carry oxygen around your body. A fall in the level of red blood cells may make you feel tired and worn out.
White blood cells help your body to fight infections. A fall in the level of your white blood cells may put you at higher risk for infections, such as coughs, colds and flu, which may lead to more serious infections. Avoid crowded places and people who are sick. Alert your doctor if you have a fever or a cough or flu that does not go away.
Platelets help your blood to clot when there is a cut in the skin. A fall in the level of your platelets may put you at risk of bleeding more than usual. Do not take part in activities where you may fall or get injured, such as contact sports. Alert your doctor if you get any unusual bruising (large bruises or several bruises, especially if the bruises appeared on their own) or bleeding that takes a long time to stop (for example, too much bleeding when you floss or brush your teeth).
Inform your doctor if any of these side effects do not go away or are severe, or if you experience other side effects.
Inform your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking any of these medicines:
- warfarin (blood-thinning medicine)
- certain antibiotics e.g. erythromycin, clarithromycin
- medicines to treat fungal infections e.g. ketoconazole, voriconazole
- medicines for epilepsy (fits or seizures) e.g. phenytoin, phenobarbital, carbamazepine
- anti-inflammatory medicine e.g. dexamethasone
- medicines for HIV infection e.g. ritonavir, indinavir
- medicine for thyroid disorder e.g. levothyroxine
- medicines to treat TB (lung infection known as tuberculosis) e.g. rifampicin
- cholesterol-lowering medicine e.g. simvastatin
- medicines for high blood pressure e.g. amlodipine
- medicine for migraine e.g. ergotamine
- medicine for mood disorders e.g. pimozide
- medicines used in organ transplant or certain immune disorders e.g. ciclosporin, tacrolimus
- St. John’s wort (herbal medicine)
This list does not include all medicines that may interact with Imatinib.
Always notify your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking any other medicines, including herbal tonics such as traditional Chinese medicines, supplements and medicines that you buy without a prescription.
Avoid alcohol and excessive consumption of grapefruit or grapefruit juice (more than 1 litre a day).
Store in a cool, dry place away from the reach of children.
Protect from moisture.
Medicines must not be used past the expiry date.
As this is a cancer medicine, always return any unused or expired tablets to the clinic, hospital, or pharmacy for disposal. Do not throw it away in the household waste.