Gleevec is used to treat certain types of leukemia such as Philadelphia chromosome positive chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). It has also been prescribed to treat certain tumors in the digestive system. Gleevec is manufactured by Novartis and in 2006 generated $1.2 billion within six months. It was approved by the FDA in 2001 to treat CML. Gleevec is in a class of agents that inhibits specific tyrosine kinase enzymes.

A new warning was placed on Gleevec labels after it was thought to cause heart failure in 10 patients. Heart failure is a dangerous disease which can often times be fatal. The medication is thought to be toxic to cardiac cells.

In one case, a woman developed a case of Rhabdomyolysis—a disease that can be extremely damaging to kidneys. This case was researched and published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Serious side effects may include:

  • Fever, chills, body aches, flu symptoms
  • Easy bruising, unusual bleeding (nose, mouth, vagina, or rectum), purple or red pinpoint spots under your skin
  • Swelling, rapid weight gain, feeling short of breath (even with mild exertion)
  • Black, bloody, or tarry stools
  • Nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes)
  • Coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds
  • Lower Back Pain, blood in your urine
  • Urinating less than usual or not at all
  • Numbness or tingly feeling around your mouth
  • Muscle weakness, tightness, or contraction, overactive reflexes
  • Fast or slow heart rate, weak pulse, feeling short of breath, confusion, fainting
  • Severe skin reaction — fever, sore throat, swelling in your face or tongue, burning in your eyes, skin pain, followed by a red or purple skin rash that spreads (especially in the face or upper body) and causes blistering and peeling

Less serious Gleevec side effects may include:

  • Mild nausea or stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea
  • Muscle cramps
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Headache, feeling tired
  • Stuffy nose, sinus pain
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