Gleevec (imatinib mesylate) is a brand-name prescription medication. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Gleevec to treat the following blood cancers in certain situations:
- Philadelphia chromosome-positive (Ph+) acute lymphoblastic leukemia in adults and children
- Ph+ chronic myeloid leukemia in adults and children
- aggressive systemic mastocytosis in adults
- bone marrow cancers known as myelodysplastic or myeloproliferative diseases, in adults
- chronic eosinophilic leukemia in adults
- hypereosinophilic syndrome in adults
Gleevec is also FDA-approved to treat the following in adults in certain situations:
Gleevec belongs to a class of drugs known as tyrosine kinase inhibitors. It comes as an oral tablet. Gleevec is available as a generic drug called imatinib mesylate.
For information about the dosage of Gleevec, including its strengths and how to take the drug, keep reading. For a comprehensive look at Gleevec, see this article.
This article describes typical dosages for Gleevec provided by the drug’s manufacturer. When taking Gleevec, always follow the dosage prescribed by your doctor.
The Gleevec dosage your doctor prescribes depends on the condition that the drug is treating. Other factors that affect your dosage can include:
- any medications you take with Gleevec
- certain medical conditions you may have
- side effects you may have
- gene mutations you may have
- your age
- height and weight (for children)
Gleevec comes as an oral tablet.
Gleevec is available in two strengths: 100 milligrams (mg) and 400 mg.
Your doctor will usually start you on the recommended dosage for your condition. Then they’ll adjust it over time to reach the amount that’s right for you. Your doctor will ultimately prescribe the smallest dosage that provides the desired effect.
The following information describes dosages that are commonly used or recommended. However, be sure to take the dosage your doctor prescribes for you. Your doctor will determine the best dosage to fit your needs.
In the dosages below, Ph+ means Philadelphia chromosome positive.
Dosage for Ph+ acute lymphocytic leukemia
Gleevec is prescribed to treat Ph+ acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in adults in certain situations. The dosage for Ph+ ALL that’s relapsed or refractory is 600 mg once per day.
The term relapsed means that the cancer returned after remission (a decrease in cancer signs and symptoms). The term refractory means the cancer didn’t respond to past cancer treatments.
Dosage for Ph+ chronic myeloid leukemia
Gleevec is prescribed to treat Ph+ chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) in adults in certain situations.
Ph+ CML in the chronic phase: The recommended dosage of Gleevec is 400 mg once per day. Your doctor may increase the dose to 600 mg. The chronic phase is the first phase of Ph+ CML.
If you have received interferon-alpha therapy, the recommended dosage of Gleevec is 600 mg once per day. Your doctor may increase the dosage to 800 mg per day. You’ll take this as 400 mg twice per day.
Ph+ CML in the accelerated or blast crisis phase: The recommended dosage of Gleevec is 600 mg once per day. Your doctor may increase the dosage to 800 mg per day. You’ll take this as 400 mg twice per day. The accelerated phase is the second phase of Ph+ CML. The blast crisis phase is the third phase of Ph+ CML.
Dosage for aggressive systemic mastocytosis
Gleevec is prescribed to treat aggressive systemic mastocytosis (ASM) in adults in certain situations. Your dosage will depend on whether you lack a gene mutation called D816V c-Kit or if it’s not known if you do. You’ll likely be tested for the mutation before you start Gleevec treatment.
Your dosage also depends on whether you have ASM that’s related to eosinophilia (a high level of cells called eosinophils).
ASM without the D816V c-Kit gene mutation: The recommended dosage of Gleevec is 400 mg once per day.
ASM if it’s unknown whether you have the D816V c-Kit gene mutation: The recommended dosage of Gleevec is 400 mg once per day.
ASM that’s related to eosinophilia: The Gleevec dosage starts at 100 mg once per day. Your doctor may increase the dosage from 100 mg to 400 mg if you do not have side effects.
Dosage for myelodysplastic or myeloproliferative disease
In certain situations, Gleevec is prescribed for adults to treat bone marrow cancers known as myelodysplastic or myeloproliferative diseases. For this purpose, the recommended dosage of the drug is 400 mg once per day.
Dosage for chronic eosinophilic leukemia and hypereosinophilic syndrome
Gleevec is prescribed to treat chronic eosinophilic leukemia and hypereosinophilic syndrome in adults in certain situations. For this purpose, the recommended dosage of Gleevec is 400 mg once per day.
If you have a gene mutation called FIP1L1-PDGFR-alpha fusion kinase, the dosage starts at 100 mg once per day. Your doctor may increase the dosage from 100 mg to 400 mg if you do not have side effects.
Dosage for gastrointestinal stromal tumors
Gleevec is prescribed to treat gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GISTs) in adults in certain situations.
Certain GISTs that are metastatic, can’t be removed with surgery, or both: The recommended dosage of Gleevec is 400 mg once per day. Your doctor may increase the dose to 800 mg if:
- tests show that GISTs are spreading, or you have symptoms of them spreading, and
- you do not have side effects
You’ll take the 800-mg dosage as 400 mg twice per day.
Certain GISTs after surgery: The recommended dosage of Gleevec is 400 mg once per day.
Dosage for dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans
Gleevec is prescribed to treat a type of skin cancer in adults known as dermatofibrosarcoma protuberans. For this purpose, the recommended dosage for adults is 800 mg once per day. You’ll take this as 400 mg twice per day.
Here’s some information about the Gleevec dosages for children. Although the drug is approved for use in children in some situations, Gleevec has not been studied in children younger than age 1 year.
In the information below, Ph+ means Philadelphia chromosome positive.
Children’s dosage for Ph+ acute lymphocytic leukemia
In certain situations, Gleevec is prescribed to treat newly diagnosed Ph+ acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in children. For this purpose, the recommended dosage is 340 milligrams per meter squared per day (mg/m2/day). Your child will likely receive the dose once per day. The maximum dosage is 600 mg per day.
Your child’s doctor will calculate the dosage based on your child’s body surface area (BSA). The doctor will use a formula that includes your child’s height in centimeters (cm) and weight in kilograms (kg). BSA is measured in m2.
Gleevec is prescribed with chemotherapy to treat ALL in children. You can talk with your child’s doctor to learn about the recommended chemotherapy dosage.
Children’s dosage for Ph+ chronic myeloid leukemia
In certain situations, Gleevec is prescribed to treat Ph+ chronic myeloid leukemia (CML) in children in the chronic phase. This is the first phase of Ph+ CML.
For this purpose, the recommended children’s dosage is 340 mg/m2/day.* The maximum dosage is 600 mg per day.
Your child’s doctor may recommend that your child receives Gleevec once per day. Or the doctor may have you divide it into two doses: one in the morning and one in the evening.
* For information about how your child’s doctor will calculate the dosage, see “Children’s dosage for acute lymphocytic leukemia” above.
Gleevec is meant to be a long-term treatment. If you and your doctor determine that Gleevec is safe and effective for you, you’ll likely take it long term.
If your doctor has prescribed Gleevec, you may have some questions about it. Below are some commonly asked questions and answers about Gleevec.
Is Gleevec prescribed in a 200-mg dose?
It may be. The typical dose of Gleevec is 400 milligrams (mg). Your doctor may increase or decrease this dose depending on which condition you’re taking the drug to treat. Smaller doses of Gleevec, such as 200 mg, were given in a clinical trial.
It’s important to take the Gleevec dosage your doctor prescribes. They can help answer any additional questions you have.
Will my doctor change my dosage of Gleevec over time?
Your doctor may change your dosage of Gleevec over time depending on how your body responds to treatment. Sometimes, cancer cells can develop resistance to Gleevec. This means the drug no longer works to fight the cancer with that dose. If this happens, your doctor may prescribe a higher dose of Gleevec.
If you have side effects from Gleevec, your doctor might decrease your dose or pause your treatment until they go away.
You can ask your doctor about any other questions you have regarding changes in your Gleevec dosage.
The Gleevec dosage your doctor prescribes will depend on several factors. These include:
- the type and severity of the condition you’re taking Gleevec to treat
- the strength of Gleevec you take
- your age
- other medications you take
Other medical conditions you have can also affect your Gleevec dosage.
In some cases, your doctor may make dose adjustments to your treatment plan. For example, they may increase your dosage of Gleevec if you take any of the following medications:
- phenytoin (Phenytek)
- fosphenytoin (Cerebyx)
- dexamethasone (Hemady)
- rifampin (Rimactane, Rifadin)
- carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Tegretol)
- rifabutin (Mycobutin)
Your doctor may decrease your dose of Gleevec if you have severe liver or renal (kidney) problems. They may change your dosage of Gleevec over time, depending on how your body responds to treatment.
If you have any questions about dosage adjustments for Gleevec, talk with your doctor.
Take Gleevec exactly as your doctor has prescribed. If you miss a dose of Gleevec, take the next dose at the regular time. You should not double up to make up for the missed dose.
To help make sure that you don’t miss a dose, try using a medication reminder. This can include setting an alarm or using a timer. You could also download a reminder app on your phone.
Gleevec comes as an oral tablet.
You should take Gleevec tablets with a meal and a large glass of water. Be sure to swallow the tablets whole. You should not crush them.
If you have trouble swallowing the tablets, you can dissolve them in a glass of water or apple juice.
A 100-milligram (mg) Gleevec tablet should be dissolved in a 50-milliliter (mL) beverage. A 400-mg tablet should be dissolved in a 200-mL beverage. Stir with a spoon and take immediately after the tablet has dissolved.
Accessible drug labels and containers
If you’re having trouble reading your prescription label, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. Some pharmacies offer labels with large print, braille, or a code you scan with a smartphone to convert text to speech. If your local pharmacy doesn’t have these options, your doctor or pharmacist might be able to recommend a pharmacy that does.
If you’re having trouble opening medication bottles, ask your pharmacist about putting Gleevec in an easy-open container. They may also recommend tools that can make it easier to open bottles.
If you take more Gleevec than your doctor prescribes, you may develop serious side effects.
It’s important that you don’t take more Gleevec than your doctor advises.
Symptoms of an overdose
Overdose symptoms of Gleevec can include:
- nausea and vomiting
- skin rash that’s red or a deeper color than usual
- muscle spasms
- low levels of all blood cells
- abdominal pain
- decreased appetite
- muscle pain
- increased levels of:
- an enzyme called creatine phosphokinase (a marker of muscle damage)
- a substance known as bilirubin
- liver enzymes called transaminases
- creatinine in your blood
- fluid in the abdomen
If you take more than the recommended amount of Gleevec
Call your doctor right away if you believe you’ve taken too much Gleevec. Another option is to call the American Association of Poison Control Centers at 800-222-1222 or use its online tool. If you have severe symptoms, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number, or go to the nearest emergency room.
The dosages in this article are typical dosages provided by the drug manufacturer. If your doctor recommends Gleevec for you, they will prescribe the dosage that’s right for you. Always follow the dosage that your doctor prescribes for you.
As with any drug, never change your dosage of Gleevec without your doctor’s recommendation. If you have questions about the dosage of Gleevec that’s right for you, talk with your doctor.
Besides learning about dosage, you may want other information about Gleevec. These additional articles might be helpful to you:
- More about Gleevec. For information about other aspects of Gleevec, refer to this article.
- Side effects. To learn about side effects of Gleevec, see this article. You can also look at the Gleevec prescribing information.
- Drug comparison. Find out how Gleevec compares with Tasigna and Sprycel.
- Details about your condition. For details on cancer, see our cancer hub as well as this list of related articles.
Disclaimer: Medical News Today has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.