Gleevec – Information, Uses, Side Effects and Dosage


Drug Trade Name: Gleevec

Category: Kinase Inhibitor

Generic name: Imatinib

Introduction and Quick Information:


Gleevec is a medication approved to treat certain types of cancers. It is a prescription medicine and recommended for the treatment of gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs), chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML) and some other diseases.   This medicine is also prescribed to treat certain types of tumors of the stomach and digestive system.

Is Gleevec Approved by U.S. FDA?

United States Food and Drug Administration (U.S. FDA) has approved Gleevec on May 10, 2010, for prevention of growth of certain cancer cells in the body.

Usage and Benefits of Gleevec:

Gleevec (generic name imatinib) is prescribed to prevent the growth of certain types of cancer cells in the blood. Health professionals recommend this medicine for the treatment of gastrointestinal stromal tumors and chronic myelogenous leukemia. Apart from these health conditions, it is also used for the treatment of dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans (it is a tumor which is formed under the skin). This severe skin tumor cannot be removed surgically as it relapses after surgery.

It works by blocking the movement or development of an abnormal protein that signals cancer cells to develop. It is mainly prescribed to prevent spreading of cancer cells.

Gleevec Side Effects:

Gleevec is prescribed to prevent the growth of cancer cells that can have life-threatening effects on health. Cancer, no matter what type, is a serious life-threatening condition. For safety reasons, you should ask your doctor to explain the risks and complications associated with Gleevec treatment. Here are some medically known Gleevec side effects-

  • Swelling, rapid weight gain
  • Dark urine, clay-colored stools
  • A headache with a severe red skin rash, peeling, blistering
  • A sore throat, fever
  • Loss of appetite, low fever
  • Stomach pain, nausea
  • Unusual weakness
  • Pale skin, easy bleeding or bruising
  • Feeling short of breath
  • A severe headache or pain behind the eyes
  • Urinating more or less than usual
  • Black, tarry or bloody stools
  • Flu symptoms, chills, fever, body aches
  • Coughing up blood
  • Jaundice
  • Upset stomach, mild nausea
  • Dizziness, diarrhea
  • A sore throat, headache
  • Mild skin rash
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Sleep problems (insomnia)
  • Depression, tired feeling
  • Stuffy nose, cough

Seek immediate medical assistance if you experience any of these Gleevec side effects while taking this medicine. These side effects can worsen your condition hence you should not ignore any safety precautions given by your doctor to avoid them.  Also, this is not a complete list of Gleevec side effects, and you should ask your healthcare provider to provide you with the complete information regarding the side effects and their severe or mild consequences. Before starting this medicine, tell your doctor if you are already suffering from some other life-threatening health condition.

General Recommended Dosage of Gleevec:

Take Gleevec as exactly as it was prescribed by your healthcare provider to prevent the growth of cancer cells. This medicine does not come with standard dose, it means Gleevec dosage depends on patient’s health condition for which he/she is taking this medicine.

You should never try to take your dose before or after your dosing schedule as it might cause an adverse reaction to the body. Always take your dose on time and never try to take a large amount of medicine for speedy recovery.


Gleevec is prescribed to take with food and you should not take this medicine on an empty stomach due to safety concerns.

To get risk free health benefits of Gleevec, your blood needs to be tested often. Your healthcare provider needs to monitor your liver functioning. Do not miss any appointment and visit your doctor’s clinic regularly while taking this medicine.

In Case I Miss my Dose?

Before you start following your dosing schedule, ask your healthcare provider to explain you miss dose health consequences.  Although miss dose consequences are not often associated with severe health discomforts however you should take precautions given by your doctor. You should tell your doctor about a missed dose. You should never try to take a large number of medicines to make up for the missed ones.

In Case I Take Overdose?

An overdose of Gleevec can be fatal; can make your condition worse. Seek immediate medical emergency If think you have taken an overdose of Gleevec.

Gleevec overdose symptoms may include severe muscle cramps. Remember an overdose may also lead to some severe diseases so be cautious about dosage.

Drug Interactions of Gleevec:

There are plenty of medications or drugs that can potentially interact with Gleevec. Drug interactions act like side effects and can have severe effects on health as well. Must tell your doctor if you have been taking any of these medicines such as-

  • An antibiotic such as ciprofloxacin (Cipro), erythromycin (E.E.S. Granules), metronidazole (Flagyl), rifampin (Rifadin), azithromycin (Zithromax), griseofulvin (Grifulvin V), clarithromycin (Biaxin).
  • A calcium channel blocker such as verapamil, nifedipine (Adalat CC), diltiazem (Cardizem).
  • Sedatives such as triazolam (Halcion), alprazolam (Xanax).
  • An antifungal medication such as ketoconazole (Nizoral), itraconazole (Onmel)
  • An antidepressant such as fluvoxamine (Luvox), sertraline (Zoloft), escitalopram (Lexapro), fluoxetine (PROzac), paroxetine (Paxil), citalopram (CeleXA).
  • Cholesterol-lowering medicines such as pravastatin (Pravachol), simvastatin (Zocor), fluvastatin (Lescol), atorvastatin (Lipitor), lovastatin (Altoprev).
  • Seizure medication such as phenytoin (Dilantin), carbamazepine (Carbatrol).
  • HIV medication such as delavirdine (Rescriptor), indinavir (Crixivan), ritonavir (Norvir), saquinavir (Invirase), efavirenz (Sustiva), nevirapine (Viramune).
  • Ergot medicine such as dihydroergotamine (Migranal).
  • Acetaminophen (Actamin).
  • Cyclosporine (Gengraf).
  • Dexamethasone (Baycadron), fentanyl (Abstral), sirolimus (Rapamune). 

This is not a complete list of drug interaction. Ask your doctor give complete information about drug interactions.

Life Style and Food Habits You Must Follow When on Gleevec:

Since this medicine is prescribed to prevent cancer cell growth in blood hence you need to be cautious from certain allergic reactions which affect blood circulation. You should ask your doctor what things you should avoid while taking this medicine. You should tell your doctor if you have any of below mentioned health discomforts or illnesses-

  • Kidney ailment
  • Thyroid which is underactive
  • If you take a warfarin
  • A history of stomach ulcer or bleeding
  • Liver disease
  • Heart problem
  • If you are receiving chemotherapy

If you have any of these medical conditions then you may need a dose adjustment or special medical test to take this medicine safely.

How Safe Is Gleevec for Pregnant Women or Nursing Mothers?

There is no information available regarding the U.S. FDA pregnancy category of Gleevec, hence it comes in the U.S. FDA pregnancy category NA, i.e. not available.

There are no clinical studies that show the effect of Gleevec on pregnant women. However, as per the market reports suggest, Gleevec is not recommended for pregnant women because can cause fetal harm. 

Complications and Conditions Possible Due to Prolonged Use of Gleevec:

Do not take Gleevec longer than prescribed.  Prolonged use of this medicine can cause reactions to the body. Take this medicine as long as it is recommended to you. Tell your doctor if Gleevec stops showing effectiveness. Prolonged use of this medicine is only advised when allowed by your doctor.

Availability of Gleevec:

Gleevec is a U.S. FDA approved medicine and available at every government and U.S. FDA approved drug stores. You can also buy Gleevec from online drug stores with discount price. Buying medicine from online drug stores is easy and profitable option as such stores always provide reasonable discounts on their products.