Gleevec(Imatinib, Imatinib Mesylate)
Marketed as Glivec in Australia
Marketed as Glivec in United Kingdom
Marketed as Glivec in Turkey
Marketed as Glivec in Australia
What is a generic medication?
Generic medications are significantly discounted copies of brand name medication that have the same active ingredients, intended use, dosage, side effects, effects, and route of administration as the original brand name medication. In other words, generic medications have the same pharmacological effects as their brand-name counterparts. Over half of all prescribed medications are for generic medications.
Gleevec (Imatinib) General Drug Information
Marketed Internationally as Glivec
In some parts of the world you can buy Gleevec under the brand name Glivec.
Gleevec is a chemotherapy drug which stops or slows down the growth of certain kinds of cancer cells. The active ingredient in this medicine is called imatinib. It is prescribed to patients with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and chronic myeloid leukemia, as well as to patients with conditions affecting bone marrow. Gleevec is also effective in treating some types of skin and stomach tumors.
How to Use Gleevec
Patients need to take Gleevec with a meal and a full glass of water, usually once or twice per day. Patients who have difficulty swallowing the tablets whole should not crush them. Instead, they can dissolve them in water or apple juice. The amount of liquid necessary will depend on the dosage. Grapefruit and grapefruit juice can increase the risk of side effects, so patients should avoid consuming them unless expressly allowed by the treating physician. Patients should discuss this option with their physician or pharmacist and always should take the tablets as directed.
The dosage depends on a patient’s condition and – in children – on their body weight. The treating doctor or pharmacist will need to know what other medications and supplements a patient is taking before they can begin treatment.
Gleevec can be absorbed through the skin and lungs. Pregnant women or those intending to get pregnant need to be particularly cautious not to touch or breathe dust from the tablets. This medicine may harm an unborn baby whose mother has been exposed, causing birth defects.
Patients need to discuss a number of issues with their doctor before taking Gleevec. This includes the possibility of allergic reactions to the active ingredient, Imatinib, or any of the inactive substances in this medication. The treating physician also needs to be aware of a person’s medical history, especially if it involves prior bleeding problems, heart failure, kidney or liver disease, or the removal of the thyroid gland.
Usage of this medicine may cause dizziness, drowsiness or blurred vision, so people should not drive or use machinery requiring alertness and good vision. Patients should also limit consumption of alcoholic beverages.
Taking Gleevec may increase the likelihood of patients developing infections so people with flu, measles, chickenpox and other transmittable diseases should be kept from contact. It is also important to avoid contact with people who have recently received live vaccines such as a flu vaccine inhaled through the nose. In addition, patients taking Gleevec should talk to their doctor before having any immunizations themselves.
Avoid contact sports and any other activities which carry a high risk of bruises, cuts or injuries.
Some of the side effects of this drug include swelling – a problem that could be particularly acute in adults.
In case an operation or dental procedure is necessary, patients need to alert the treating physician to the fact they are taking Gleevec, as well as any other medications and supplements.
In children, this drug can slow growth, although the effect on final height is not fully understood by clinical studies. Parents of children treated with Gleevec need to take them to the treating physician to measure their weight and height regularly.
Women who are pregnant or may be pregnant should not handle Gleevec. The medicine can be absorbed through skin, as well as through the lungs if tablet dust is aspirated. This can harm the fetus and should, therefore, be avoided at all costs.
Female patients using Gleevec should not become pregnant while on the medication nor for a period of two weeks after stopping treatment. Women of childbearing age should discuss reliable birth control options with their physician while they undergo treatment with Gleevec. In case of pregnancy, a doctor should advise about risks to the unborn baby.
Gleevec passes into breast milk and can negatively affect the health of an infant. Mothers taking this medication should not breastfeed while undergoing treatment nor for a month after their last dose.
Those who miss a dose should skip it and take the next dose at the regular time. Patients should not double up on the dose in order to catch up.
Other Medications and Gleevec
Drug interactions may change the way Gleevec works and can increase the risk of side effects.
Gleevec may also slow down the removal of other medications from the body, affecting the way they work. One example is the anticoagulant warfarin, sold under the brand name Coumadin.
Patients must speak with their doctor or a pharmacist about the medications and supplements they are already taking so the possibility of unwanted drug interactions can be fully assessed. Starting, changing or stopping any medications should only happen with physician approval.
The most common side effects of Gleevec include upset stomach, vomiting, diarrhea, headache, muscle and joint pain, cramps, blurred vision, dizziness, and drowsiness. If these side effects persist or worsen, patients should alert their doctor or pharmacist.
Using Gleevec can have serious side effects and patients need to be carefully monitored by a physician in order to minimize them. These may include easy bruising or bleeding, unusual tiredness, sudden weight gain, swelling of the hands, feet, ankles, or abdomen.
Patients should also alert their doctor if they experience shortness of breath, fast heartbeat, black or bloody stools, and vomit that looks like coffee grounds. It is important to monitor for signs of liver disease such as vomiting, loss of appetite, stomach pain, dark urine, and the yellowing of eyes or skin.
The fast destruction of cancer cells in the body can also cause side effects such as muscle spasms, low back pain, flank pain and other signs of kidney problems such as painful urination, pink or bloody urine, as well as a change in the amount of urine. Unless directed otherwise, patients should drink plenty of water to minimize risk.
Patients who take Gleevec may have a lower ability to fight infections. They should monitor for signs of infection such as fever, chills and sore throat.
Some patients develop a rash from taking Gleevec, which is not serious. However, in the event a rash develops, it is important to see a doctor so they can distinguish between a harmless and a severe reaction.
Allergic reactions are rare. Patients should monitor for signs of allergy, which may include rash, itching, and swelling in the face, tongue or throat, as well as severe dizziness and trouble breathing.
How to Store Gleevec
Gleevec should be stored at room temperature and in tightly closed containers to avoid exposure to light or moisture. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep away from children and pets.
Unwanted medication should be disposed of properly and should never be poured down drains or flushed down the toilet. Patients should consult a pharmacist or their local waste disposal company to find out more about safe disposal methods.
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