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About Imatinib

Gleevec is the trade name for the generic drug name Imatinib Mesylate. STI-571 is another name for Imatinib Mesylate. In some cases, health care professionals may use the trade name Gleevec or other name STI-571 when referring to the generic drug name Imatinib Mesylate.

How Imatinib Mesylate Is Given:

Imatinib mesylate is a pill, taken by mouth, once or twice daily.

Imatinib mesylate should be taken with a large glass of water, after a meal.

The amount of Imatinib mesylate that you will receive depends on many factors, including your general health or other health problems, and the type of cancer or condition being treated.  Your doctor will determine your dose and schedule.

What should I do if I forget a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.

How it works

Imatinib is a type of biological therapy called a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI). Tyrosine kinases are proteins that cells use to signal to each other to grow. They act as chemical messengers. There are a number of different tyrosine kinases and blocking them stops the cancer cells growing.

Imatinib targets different tyrosine kinases, depending on the type of cancer.

Side Effects:

Important things to remember about the side effects of Imatinib mesylate:

  • Headache
  • Fatigue
  • Joint pain
  • Indigestion (see heartburn)
  • Abdominal pain
  • Cough
  • Shortness of breath
  • Poor appetite
  • Constipation


Before starting Imatinib mesylate treatment, make sure you tell your doctor about any other medications you are taking (including prescription, over-the-counter, vitamins, herbal remedies, etc.).   Do not take aspirin, or products containing aspirin unless your doctor specifically permits this.  St. John's Wort may decrease the effectiveness of this medication.

Discuss pain remedies with your doctor before taking.  Acetominophen (Tylenol®) may not be recommended.  Be sure to discuss this with your doctor.

Do not receive any kind of immunization or vaccination without your doctor's approval while taking Imatinib mesylate.

Inform your health care professional if you are pregnant or may be pregnant prior to starting this treatment.  Pregnancy category D (Imatinib mesylate may be hazardous to the fetus.  Women who are pregnant or become pregnant must be advised of the potential hazard to the fetus).