Leukemia Med Gleevec Goes Generic

Roni Shye
Roni Shye, PharmD BCGP BCACP, is a licensed pharmacist in the states of Florida, Ohio, and Pennsylvania.
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A generic for cancer med Gleevec (imatinib mesylate) has been approved, and will be available soon. Gleevec is used to treat multiple types of cancener, including chronic myeloid leukemia.

Chronic myeloid leukemia or CML is a rare blood-cell cancer that begins in the bone marrow, and causes your body to produce too many white blood cells. CML typically occurs in adults but it can (very rarely) affect young children.

How will generic imatinib be available?

Like Gleevec, imatinib mesylate will be available as a tablet in 100 mg and 400 mg strengths.

When was imatinib mesylate approved by the FDA?

The FDA approved generic Gleevec (imatinib mesylate) oral tablets on December 4, 2015.

When will generic Gleevec be available?

According to the manufacturer, Sun Pharma, the generic version of Gleevec (imatinib mesylate) is scheduled to launch on February 1, 2016.

What are the side effects of imatinib tablets?

The most common side effects include water retention, muscle cramps, stomach pain, loss of appetite, vomiting or diarrhea, decreased hemoglobin, abnormal bleeding, nausea, fatigue, and rash.

What else should you know about Gleevec?
Gleevec (imatinib mesylate) is a specialty medication. Specialty medications are typically very expensive, and may require extra monitoring by your doctor. For more information on specialty medications please check out our two previous posts on what you should know about specialty meds and what makes specialty drugs different.

While you’re taking Gleevec, your doctor may need to check your blood to see if the medication is working properly. Your doctor may also monitor your liver function, thyroid levels, kidneys, heart, or growth. If Gleevec is prescribed for a child, it can potentially slow down or stop their growth, and extra monitoring is recommended.

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