Health Guide

Imatinib (By mouth)

Imatinib (i-ma-TIN-ib)

Treats leukemia and other kinds of cancer and related diseases.

Brand Name(s):


There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used:

This medicine is not right for everyone. Do not use it if you had an allergic reaction to imatinib or if you are pregnant.

How to Use This Medicine:

Capsule, Tablet

  • Take your medicine as directed. Your dose may need to be changed several times to find what works best for you.
  • Take this medicine with food and a large glass of water.
  • Swallow the tablet whole. Do not break or crush, break, or chew it.
  • If you cannot swallow the tablet, you may dissolve it in water or apple juice. After the tablet dissolves, stir the water or juice with a spoon and drink it immediately.
    • 100-milligram tablet: Dissolve it in 50 milliliters (mL) or 2 ounces (1/4 cup) of water or juice.
    • 400-milligram tablet: Dissolve it in 200 milliliters (mL) or 7 ounces (about 1 cup) of water or juice.
  • Do not handle crushed or broken tablets. Wash your skin with soap and water right away if you touch broken or crushed tablets.
  • Missed dose: If you miss a dose of this medicine, skip the missed dose and take your next dose when you normally would. Do not take extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.
  • Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid:

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Some foods and medicines can affect how imatinib works. Tell your doctor if you are using any of the following:
    • Alfentanil, atazanavir, carbamazepine, clarithromycin, cyclosporine, dexamethasone, dihydroergotamine, ergotamine, erythromycin, fentanyl, fosphenytoin, indinavir, itraconazole, ketoconazole, nefazodone, nelfinavir, oxcarbazepine, phenobarbital, phenytoin, pimozide, primidone, quinidine, rifabutin, rifampin, rifampicin, ritonavir, saquinavir, simvastatin, sirolimus, St John's wort, tacrolimus, telithromycin, warfarin, or voriconazole
    • Blood pressure medicine
    • Iron supplements
    • Statin medicines
  • Do not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice while you are using this medicine.

Warnings While Using This Medicine:

  • It is not safe to take this medicine during pregnancy. It could harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant. Use effective birth control during treatment and for 14 days after your treatment ends.
  • Tell your doctor if you have kidney disease, liver disease, or heart disease. Tell your doctor if you have had your thyroid removed.
  • Do not breastfeed during treatment and for 1 month after your last dose.
  • This medicine can cause the following problems:
    • Heart problems
    • Liver problems
    • Bleeding in your digestive system, which could be serious
    • Tumor lysis syndrome
    • Slow growth in children
  • Your doctor will do lab tests at regular visits to check on the effects of this medicine. Keep all appointments.
  • This medicine may make you bleed, bruise, or get infections more easily. Take precautions to prevent illness and injury. Wash your hands often.
  • This medicine may make you dizzy or drowsy or cause blurry vision. Do not drive or do anything that could be dangerous until you know how this medicine affects you.
  • Medicines used to treat cancer are very strong and can have many side effects. Before receiving this medicine, make sure you understand all the risks and benefits. It is important for you to work closely with your doctor during your treatment.
  • Keep all medicine out of the reach of children. Never share your medicine with anyone.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine:

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Blistering, peeling, red skin rash
  • Dark urine or pale stools, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, yellow skin or eyes
  • Decrease in how much or how often you urinate
  • Rapid weight, swelling in your hands, ankles, or feet, trouble breathing, tiredness
  • Severe stomach pain, vomiting blood, or bloody or black, tarry stools
  • Unusual bleeding, bruising, or weakness

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Diarrhea
  • Headache
  • Muscle or joint pain

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Last Updated: 7/4/2018
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