Verzenio (abemaciclib) is a brand-name oral tablet that’s prescribed for some types of breast cancer in certain situations. As with other drugs, Verzenio can cause side effects, such as abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, and fatigue.

Verzenio can cause certain side effects, some of which are more common than others. These side effects are usually temporary, lasting for a few days or weeks. But if the side effects last for longer than that, bother you, or become severe, be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

These are just a few of the more common side effects reported by people who took Verzenio in clinical trials.

Some of the more common side effects in people taking Verzenio include:

Mild side effects can occur with Verzenio use. This list doesn’t include all possible mild side effects of the drug. For more information, you can refer to Verzenio’s prescribing information.

Mild side effects of Verzenio can include:

These side effects are usually temporary, lasting for a few days or weeks. But if the side effects last for longer than that, bother you, or become severe, be sure to talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Note: After the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves a drug, it tracks and reviews side effects of the medication. If you develop a side effect while taking Verzenio and want to tell the FDA about it, visit MedWatch.

Verzenio may cause serious side effects. The list below may not include all possible serious side effects of the drug. For more information, you can refer to Verzenio’s prescribing information.

If you develop serious side effects while taking Verzenio, call your doctor right away. If the side effects seem life threatening or you think you’re having a medical emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number.

Serious side effects and their symptoms can include:

  • Changes in blood cells, including lower levels of red blood cells, white blood cells, and platelets. Symptoms can include:
    • bruising more easily than usual
    • fever
    • getting sick more often than usual
    • infections that return
  • Liver problems. Symptoms can include:
    • bleeding or bruising more easily than usual
    • feeling more tired than usual
    • loss of appetite
    • nausea and vomiting
    • pain in the upper right side of your abdomen
    • yellowing of your skin or the white of your eyes
  • Blood clots. Symptoms can include:
    • chest pain
    • increased heart rate or breathing rate
    • pain, redness, swelling, or warmth in your arms or legs
    • shortness of breath
  • Lung disease, such as pneumonitis and interstitial lung disease. Symptoms can include:
    • chills
    • cough
    • fatigue
    • fever
    • headache
    • shortness of breath
  • Allergic reaction (see “Side effect specifics” below).

Verzenio may cause several side effects. Here are some frequently asked questions about the drug’s side effects and their answers.

What’s the average life expectancy of people taking Verzenio?

The average life expectancy of someone taking Verzenio isn’t known. (Life expectancy is the length of time that a person is expected to live.)

In clinical trials, researchers didn’t measure life expectancy. Instead, they looked at progression-free survival. This is a period of time during which a person’s cancer doesn’t worsen.

In these trials, people who took Verzenio with an aromatase inhibitor drug, such as anastrozole (Arimidex) or letrozole (Femara), had a progression-free survival rate of about 28.2 months. In comparison, people who took a placebo* with an aromatase inhibitor had a progression-free survival rate of about 14.8 months.

If you have additional questions about life expectancy while taking Verzenio, talk with your doctor.

* A placebo is a treatment without an active drug.

Does Verzenio cause eye-related side effects?

No, Verzenio isn’t known to cause any eye-related side effects. There weren’t eye-related side effects reported in clinical trials, and there haven’t been reports of these side effects since the drug was approved.

But some of the drugs that Verzenio may be taken with have been known to cause eye-related side effects, such as cataracts. Verzenio may be taken by itself or in combination with other drugs, including anastrozole (Arimidex) and fulvestrant.

If you’re concerned about your vision while taking Verzenio, talk with your doctor. They may be able to suggest ways to help protect your vision.

Does Verzenio cause kidney problems?

Not necessarily. Verzenio has been shown to increase the level of creatinine in the body. This is a substance made in your body that shows how well your kidneys are functioning.

It’s important to note that having an increased creatinine level isn’t a definite sign that Verzenio is causing problems with your kidneys. If your doctor sees that your creatinine level has increased, they may recommend additional tests to check your kidney function.

In people who had increased creatinine levels while taking Verzenio in clinical trials, this side effect usually went away once they stopped taking the drug. To date, there aren’t known reports of anyone experiencing serious side effects related to increases in creatinine levels.

But due to the risk of having an increased creatinine level, your doctor may order tests to monitor how well your kidneys are working during your Verzenio treatment.

Learn more about some of the side effects that Verzenio may cause.

Nausea

Nausea is one of the more common side effects in people taking Verzenio. It may go away after a few days or with continued use of the drug. But sometimes, nausea may persist.

Nausea on its own usually isn’t serious. But if you also experience vomiting, it may lead to dehydration.

What you can do

If you experience nausea while taking Verzenio, talk with your doctor. They may:

  • prescribe medication for your nausea
  • adjust your Verzenio dosage
  • recommend a medication other than Verzenio for treating your cancer

Diarrhea

Diarrhea is one of the more common side effects of Verzenio. In many cases, it goes away after a few days or weeks.

But Verzenio can sometimes cause serious diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration. Also, some medications that are taken with Verzenio, such as fulvestrant, can cause diarrhea.

What you can do

It’s important to talk with your doctor if you develop diarrhea, especially if it becomes severe or lasts for longer than 24 hours. Talking with your doctor when you first notice symptoms can help them treat the side effect sooner. And this may prevent your diarrhea from becoming serious.

Drink plenty of fluids while taking Verzenio. This will help prevent dehydration.

If you develop diarrhea while taking Verzenio, let your doctor know. They may:

  • monitor your diarrhea to make sure it doesn’t get worse or become severe
  • recommend an anti-diarrheal medication, if this is safe and appropriate for you
  • adjust your Verzenio treatment plan or suggest a different medication for your condition

Hair loss

Hair loss or hair thinning is another common side effect seen in people taking Verzenio.

It’s important to note that hair loss or hair thinning can be a side effect of medications taken with Verzenio. These medications include anastrozole (Arimidex) and fulvestrant.

It isn’t known whether hair loss or hair thinning from Verzenio may be reversible after you stop taking the drug.

What you can do

If you notice hair loss or hair thinning while taking Verzenio, talk with your doctor. They can evaluate you to see whether Verzenio may be causing this side effect. If it is, they may adjust your Verzenio treatment plan. Or they may prescribe a medication other than Verzenio to treat your cancer.

Allergic reaction

As with most drugs, Verzenio can cause an allergic reaction in some people. Symptoms can be mild or serious and can include:

  • rash
  • itching
  • flushing (warmth, swelling, or redness in your skin)
  • swelling under your skin, typically in your lips, eyelids, feet, or hands
  • swelling of your mouth, tongue, or throat, which can make it hard to breathe

What you can do

For mild symptoms of an allergic reaction, call your doctor right away. They may recommend ways to ease your symptoms and determine whether or not you should keep taking Verzenio. But if your symptoms are serious and you think you’re having a medical emergency, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number.

Be sure to talk with your doctor about your health history before you take Verzenio. This drug may not be the right treatment for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. The conditions and factors to consider include the following:

Active infections: If you have an active infection, such as pneumonia, be sure to talk with your doctor before using Verzenio. The drug may decrease how well your immune system fights infection. If you have a current infection, taking Verzenio may make it harder to treat. For this reason, your doctor may want to finish treating your infection before you start using Verzenio.

Kidney problems: Verzenio can increase your level of creatinine. Creatinine is a substance in your body that shows how well your kidneys are working. If you already have kidney problems, having an increased creatinine level may make your kidney function worse. For this reason, your doctor may monitor how well your kidneys are working while you’re taking Verzenio if you have existing kidney problems.

Liver problems: Verzenio may increase levels of liver enzymes. This can lead to liver damage. If you have liver problems, they could become worse while you take Verzenio. So, your doctor will typically order blood tests to make sure your liver is healthy enough for you to continue taking Verzenio.

Low white blood cell levels: Verzenio can cause your levels of white blood cells to become low. This can be dangerous for people whose white blood cell count is already low. Your doctor may wait until your white blood cell levels go back to usual before you begin taking Verzenio. Also, you’ll likely continue to have blood tests during your Verzenio treatment. This is to help make sure your white blood cell levels stay at a safe count.

Allergic reaction: If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Verzenio or any of its ingredients, you should not take the drug. Ask your doctor about which other medications may be better options for you.

Alcohol use with Verzenio

There aren’t known interactions between taking Verzenio and drinking alcohol. But both Verzenio and alcohol can increase levels of liver enzymes (certain proteins made by the liver). This can lead to liver damage.

If you drink alcohol, talk with your doctor about how much is safe for you to drink while taking Verzenio.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding while taking Verzenio

Here are recommendations for taking Verzenio while pregnant or breastfeeding:

  • Pregnancy: Verzenio should not be taken during pregnancy. This is because the drug may harm a developing fetus. For this reason, your doctor may order a pregnancy test before you begin taking Verzenio. This helps ensure that you’re not pregnant when you start treatment. People who can become pregnant should use effective birth control while taking Verzenio and continue for 3 weeks after their last Verzenio dose.
  • Breastfeeding: You should not breastfeed while taking Verzenio or for 3 weeks following your last dose of the drug. This is because it isn’t known whether Verzenio can pass into human breast milk.

If you’re pregnant, planning to become pregnant, or thinking about breastfeeding, talk with your doctor. They can recommend treatment options other than Verzenio.

Verzenio is used to treat some types of breast cancer in certain situations. The drug may be taken by itself or together with other medications.

Some of the more common side effects of Verzenio include:

These side effects are usually mild and may go away on their own with time. But if you develop any side effects that are bothersome, are severe, or don’t go away, talk with your doctor.

Diarrhea can become serious in some people. You should talk with your doctor if you develop diarrhea, especially if it becomes severe or lasts for longer than 24 hours.

You should also talk with your doctor if you develop any symptoms of:

If you experience an allergic reaction to Verzenio, talk with your doctor immediately. If you develop trouble breathing, go to your nearest emergency room or call 911 or your local emergency number.

If you have additional questions about the side effects of Verzenio, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can help address any concerns you have.

For more information on breast cancer, see our list of breast cancer 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 other 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.