Safety Information

Active substances that may have their plasma concentration altered by Glivec

Imatinib increases the mean Cmax and AUC of simvastatin (CYP3A4 substrate) 2- and 3.5-fold, respectively, indicating an inhibition of the CYP3A4 by imatinib. Therefore, caution is recommended when administering Glivec with CYP3A4 substrates with a narrow therapeutic window (e.g. cyclosporin or pimozide). Glivec may increase plasma concentration of other CYP3A4 metabolised drugs (e.g. triazolo-benzodiazepines, dihydropyridine calcium channel blockers, certain HMG-CoA reductase inhibitors, i.e. statins, etc.).

Because warfarin is metabolised by CYP2C9, patients who require anticoagulation should receive low-molecular-weight or standard heparin.

In vitro Glivec inhibits the cytochrome P450 isoenzyme CYP2D6 activity at concentrations similar to those that affect CYP3A4 activity. Imatinib at 400 mg twice daily had an inhibitory effect on CYP2D6-mediated metoprolol metabolism, with metoprolol Cmax and AUC being increased by approximately 23% (90%CI [1.16-1.30]). Dose adjustments do not seem to be necessary when imatinib is co-administrated with CYP2D6 substrates, however caution is advised for CYP2D6 substrates with a narrow therapeutic window such as metoprolol. In patients treated with metoprolol clinical monitoring should be considered.

In vitro, Glivec inhibits paracetamol O-glucuronidation with Ki value of 58.5 micromol/l. This inhibition has not been observed in vivo after the administration of Glivec 400 mg and paracetamol 1000 mg. Higher doses of Glivec and paracetamol have not been studied.

Caution should therefore be exercised when using Glivec and paracetamol concomitantly, especially with high doses of paracetamol.

In thyroidectomy patients receiving levothyroxine, the plasma exposure to levothyroxine may be decreased when Glivec is co-administered (see section Special warnings and precautions for use). Caution is therefore recommended. However, the mechanism of the observed interaction is presently unknown.

In Ph+ ALL patients, there is clinical experience of co-administering Glivec with chemotherapy (see section 5.1 in the EU SmPC), but drug-drug interactions between imatinib and chemotherapy regimens are not well characterised. Imatinib adverse events, i.e. hepatotoxicity, myelosuppression or others, may increase and it has been reported that concomitant use with L-asparaginase could be associated with increased hepatotoxicity (see section Undesirable effects). Therefore, the use of Glivec in combination requires special precaution.

Fertility, pregnancy and lactation

Women of childbearing potential

Women of childbearing potential must be advised to use effective contraception during treatment.


There are limited data on the use of imatinib in pregnant women. There have been post-marketing reports of spontaneous abortions and infant congenital anomalies from women who have taken Glivec. Studies in animals have however shown reproductive toxicity (see section 5.3 in EUSMPC) and the potential risk for the foetus is unknown. Glivec should not be used during pregnancy unless clearly necessary. If it is used during pregnancy, the patient must be informed of the potential risk to the foetus.


There is limited information on imatinib distribution on human milk. Studies in two breast-feeding women revealed that both imatinib and its active metabolite can be distributed into human milk. The milk plasma ratio studied in a single patient was determined to be 0.5 for imatinib and 0.9 for the metabolite, suggesting greater distribution of the metabolite into the milk. Considering the combined concentration of imatinib and the metabolite and the maximum daily milk intake by infants, the total exposure would be expected to be low (~10% of a therapeutic dose). However, since the effects of low-dose exposure of the infant to imatinib are unknown, women taking imatinib should not breast-feed.


In non-clinical studies, the fertility of male and female rats was not affected (see section 5.3 of the EU SmPC). Studies on patients receiving Glivec and its effect on fertility and gametogenesis have not been performed. Patients concerned about their fertility on Glivec treatment should consult with their physician.

Effects on ability to drive and use machines

Patients should be advised that they may experience undesirable effects such as dizziness, blurred vision or somnolence during treatment with imatinib. Therefore, caution should be recommended when driving a car or operating machinery.

Undesirable effects

Patients with advanced stages of malignancies may have numerous confounding medical conditions that make causality of adverse reactions difficult to assess due to the variety of symptoms related to the underlying disease, its progression, and the co-administration of numerous medicinal products.

In clinical trials in CML, drug discontinuation for drug-related adverse reactions was observed in 2.4% of newly diagnosed patients, 4% of patients in late chronic phase after failure of interferon therapy, 4% of patients in accelerated phase after failure of interferon therapy and 5% of blast crisis patients after failure of interferon therapy. In GIST the study drug was discontinued for drug-related adverse reactions in 4% of patients.

The adverse reactions were similar in all indications, with two exceptions. There was more myelosuppression seen in CML patients than in GIST, which is probably due to the underlying disease. In the study in patients with unresectable and/or metastatic GIST, 7 (5%) patients experienced CTC grade 3/4 GI bleeds (3 patients), intra-tumoural bleeds (3 patients) or both (1 patient). GI tumour sites may have been the source of the GI bleeds (see section Special warnings and precautions for use). GI and tumoural bleeding may be serious and sometimes fatal. The most commonly reported (≥ 10%) drug-related adverse reactions in both settings were mild nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, abdominal pain, fatigue, myalgia, muscle cramps and rash. Superficial oedemas were a common finding in all studies and were described primarily as periorbital or lower limb oedemas. However, these oedemas were rarely severe and may be managed with diuretics, other supportive measures, or by reducing the dose of Glivec.

When imatinib was combined with high dose chemotherapy in Ph+ ALL patients, transient liver toxicity in the form of transaminase elevation and hyperbilirubinaemia were observed.

Miscellaneous adverse reactions such as pleural effusion, ascites, pulmonary oedema and rapid weight gain with or without superficial oedema may be collectively described as "fluid retention". These reactions can usually be managed by withholding Glivec temporarily and with diuretics and other appropriate supportive care measures. However, some of these reactions may be serious or life-threatening and several patients with blast crisis died with a complex clinical history of pleural effusion, congestive heart failure and renal failure. There were no special safety findings in paediatric clinical trials.

Adverse reactions

Adverse reactions reported as more than an isolated case are listed below, by system organ class and by frequency. Frequency categories are defined using the following convention: very common (≥1/10), common (≥1/100 to <1/10), uncommon (≥1/1,000 to <1/100), rare (≥1/10,000 to <1/1,000), very rare (<1/10,000), not known (cannot be estimated from the available data).

Within each frequency grouping, undesirable effects are presented in order of frequency, the most frequent first. Adverse reactions and their frequencies reported in Table 1 are based on the main registration studies.

Table 1 Adverse reactions in clinical studies