Verzenio is a brand-name prescription medication that’s used for the treatment of certain types of breast cancer. Breast cancer is a condition in which the cells in your breast grow out of control. Breast cancer can affect both men and women.

Verzenio is currently approved by the FDA to treat advanced or metastatic breast cancer that is hormone receptor-positive (HR-positive) and HER2-negative. Advanced breast cancer has spread from the breast to the lymph nodes or other tissue near the breast. And metastatic breast cancer has spread from the breast to areas such as the liver or lungs. Verzenio is to be used:

  • as the first endocrine therapy (a kind of hormone therapy) with a type of drug called an aromatase inhibitor, such as anastrozole (Arimidex), in women who have gone through menopause
  • with fulvestrant (Faslodex) in women who tried endocrine therapy but their cancer progressed (worsened or spread)
  • by itself in adults whose metastatic cancer progresses after endocrine therapy and chemotherapy

Verzenio belongs to a class of medications called kinase inhibitors. (A class of medications is a group of drugs that work in a similar way.)

Verzenio comes as a tablet that you swallow, and you’ll usually take it twice a day. The drug is available in four strengths: 50 mg, 100 mg, 150 mg, and 200 mg.

FDA approval

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Verzenio in 2017.

Effectiveness

Verzenio is an effective medication in treating breast cancer and helping people with metastatic breast cancer that’s HR-positive and HER2-negative to live longer.

Clinical trials of Verzenio looked at the progression-free survival rate. This is the amount of time that a person goes without their condition getting any worse. On average, people who took both Verzenio and fulvestrant went 16.4 months without progression. In comparison, people who took a placebo (treatment with no active drug) along with fulvestrant had a progression-free survival rate of 9.3 months.

For more information about the effectiveness of Verzenio, see the “Verzenio for breast cancer” section below.

Verzenio is available only as a brand-name medication. It’s not currently available in generic form.

A generic drug is an exact copy of the active drug in a brand-name medication. The generic is considered to be just as safe and effective as the original drug. Generics also tend to cost less than brand-name drugs.

Verzenio contains the active drug ingredient abemaciclib. (As the active drug, abemaciclib is the ingredient that makes Verzenio work.)

Verzenio can cause mild or serious side effects. The following lists contain some of the key side effects that may occur while taking Verzenio. These lists don’t include all possible side effects.

For more information on the possible side effects of Verzenio, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can give you tips on how to deal with any side effects that may be bothersome.

The side effects listed below are for Verzenio when it’s taken alone. When this medication is taken along with other drugs such as fulvestrant (Faslodex) or an aromatase inhibitor, such as anastrozole (Arimidex), side effects may differ slightly due to the addition of side effects from other medications that you’re taking.

Note: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tracks side effects of drugs they have approved. If you would like to report to the FDA a side effect you’ve had with Verzenio, you can do so through MedWatch.

Mild side effects

The more common* mild side effects of Verzenio when taken alone can include:

The less common** mild side effects of Verzenio when taken alone can include:

* occurred in 20% or more of people in clinical studies

** occurred in less than 20% of people in clinical studies

Most of these side effects may go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. If they’re more severe or don’t go away, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Serious side effects

Serious side effects from Verzenio aren’t common, but they can occur. Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency.

Serious side effects and their symptoms can include:

  • Blood cell changes, such as decreased levels of white blood cells, platelets, or red blood cells. Symptoms can include:
    • infections that come back
    • fever
    • bruising more easily than usual
    • getting sick more often than usual
  • Increased level of creatinine (a waste product that shows how well your kidneys are working). Symptoms can include:
    • dehydration
    • feeling tired
    • shortness of breath

Other serious side effects, explained in more detail below in “Side effect details,” include:

Side effect details

You may wonder how often certain side effects occur with this drug. Here’s some detail on some of the side effects this drug may cause.

Allergic reaction

As with most drugs, some people can have an allergic reaction after taking Verzenio. However, a clinical study didn’t report how many people had allergic reactions to the medication. Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:

  • skin rash
  • itchiness
  • flushing (warmth and redness in your skin)

A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include:

  • swelling under your skin, typically in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet
  • swelling of your tongue, mouth, or throat
  • trouble breathing or speaking

Call your doctor right away if you have a severe allergic reaction to Verzenio. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency.

Diarrhea

Diarrhea is a common side effect of Verzenio that often occurs during the first month of treatment. It’s possible for your diarrhea to become severe. If this happens, it can be serious because it may cause you to become dehydrated or develop an infection.

In clinical trials, diarrhea usually occurred about 6 to 8 days after people started taking Verzenio. The diarrhea lasted on average for about 6 to 11 days. Ninety percent of people who took just Verzenio developed diarrhea. However, only about 20% of these people developed severe diarrhea. Verzenio wasn’t compared with a different drug or a placebo (treatment with no active drug).

How often diarrhea occurs when Verzenio is taken with fulvestrant or an aromatase inhibitor, such as anastrozole, may differ.

If you develop loose stools, call your doctor right away. They’ll usually have you start taking an antidiarrheal medication such as loperamide (Imodium) to slow down or stop the diarrhea. You should also drink more fluids so that you don’t get dehydrated. If you have severe diarrhea, your doctor may have you stop taking Verzenio or decrease your dose. This may help ease your diarrhea.

Fatigue

A lack of energy, called fatigue, is a common side effect that may occur with Verzenio. In clinical trials, about 65% of people who took just Verzenio had fatigue. And about 13% of these people experienced severe fatigue. Verzenio wasn’t compared with a different drug or a placebo.

How often fatigue occurs when Verzenio is taken with fulvestrant or an aromatase inhibitor, such as anastrozole, may differ.

If you develop fatigue while you’re taking Verzenio, tell your doctor. They may be able to help you figure out ways to ease this side effect.

Blood disorders

Certain changes in your blood can occur with Verzenio. Different types of blood disorders may cause different signs and symptoms. Examples of blood disorders include neutropenia, anemia, thrombocytopenia, and leukopenia.

Neutropenia

It’s possible that neutropenia can occur while you’re taking Verzenio. Neutropenia is a decreased level of a type of white blood cell in your body. This can cause you to develop infections more easily. You may also have fevers. In clinical trials, neutropenia occurred in about 37% of people who took just Verzenio. About 24% of these people developed severe neutropenia.

How often neutropenia occurs when Verzenio is taken with fulvestrant or an aromatase inhibitor, such as anastrozole, may differ.

Anemia

Anemia may also occur while you’re taking Verzenio. Anemia is a decrease in the level of your red blood cells. Symptoms of anemia include feeling tired, dizzy, and short of breath. In clinical trials, 25% of people who took just Verzenio developed anemia. And about 5% of these people developed severe anemia. Verzenio wasn’t compared with a different drug or a placebo.

How often anemia occurs when Verzenio is taken with fulvestrant or an aromatase inhibitor, such as anastrozole, may differ.

Thrombocytopenia

Another blood disorder that may develop while taking Verzenio is thrombocytopenia. This is a decrease in the level of your platelets. Platelets are a type of blood cell that helps stop bleeding. Symptoms of thrombocytopenia include bruising easily, bleeding from your nose or gums, or developing reddish-purple spots on your skin.

In clinical studies, thrombocytopenia occurred in 20% of people who took just Verzenio. And about 4% of these people had severe thrombocytopenia. Verzenio wasn’t compared with a different drug or a placebo.

How often thrombocytopenia occurs when Verzenio is taken with fulvestrant or an aromatase inhibitor, such as anastrozole, may differ.

Leukopenia

The blood disorder leukopenia may also occur with Verzenio use. Leukopenia is a decrease in the level of your white blood cells. White blood cells are an important part of your immune system that help you fight infections. Symptoms of leukopenia include infections or fever, but sometimes there are no symptoms.

In clinical trials, leukopenia occurred in 17% of people who took just Verzenio. Less than 6% of these people developed severe leukopenia. Verzenio wasn’t compared with a different drug or a placebo.

How often leukopenia occurs when Verzenio is taken with fulvestrant or an aromatase inhibitor, such as anastrozole, may differ.

When to see your doctor

If you develop symptoms of a blood disorder, tell your doctor right away. Be sure to go for regular blood tests as directed by your doctor to monitor your blood levels. This will help prevent them from becoming too low.

Blood clots

Blood clots weren’t a common side effect reported with Verzenio use. However blood clots did still occur in people who took Verzenio. In clinical trials, blood clots occurred in the lungs (pulmonary embolism), brain, legs, and heart.

In clinical trials, 5% of people who took Verzenio with an aromatase inhibitor such as anastrozole developed a blood clot. In comparison, only 0.6% of people who took a placebo with an aromatase inhibitor had a blood clot. How often blood clots occur when Verzenio is taken with fulvestrant may differ. And it isn’t known how many people who took just Verzenio had a blood clot.

Symptoms of a blood clot can include:

  • pain, swelling, warmth, or redness in your arms or legs
  • increased heart rate
  • increased breathing rate
  • chest pain
  • shortness of breath

If you’re taking Verzenio and develop symptoms of a blood clot, see your doctor right away. The situation can be very serious, and you may need to be treated quickly.

Infections

Verzenio may increase the risk of infections, such as a cold. This is because the medication may affect your immune system and your white blood cells, which are a major part of your immune system. In some cases, infections may be serious.

In clinical trials, infections occurred in 31% of people who took just Verzenio. About 7% of these people developed infections that were severe. Verzenio wasn’t compared with a different drug or a placebo.

How often infections occur when Verzenio is taken with fulvestrant or an aromatase inhibitor, such as anastrozole, may differ.

Symptoms of an infection can include:

If you develop symptoms of an infection, tell your doctor right away. They can help treat the infection and determine if you should keep taking Verzenio.

Pneumonitis

Lung diseases such as pneumonitis are possible with Verzenio use. Pneumonitis is a type of swelling that occurs in your lungs, and it’s usually caused by an infection.

In the clinical trials of just Verzenio alone, Verzenio with an aromatase inhibitor, and Verzenio with fulvestrant, 3.3% of people had pneumonitis or lung disease. In this group, about 0.6% of people had severe lung disease or pneumonitis, and 0.4% of the people died.

Symptoms of lung diseases such as pneumonitis can include:

  • fever
  • chills
  • headache
  • cough
  • shortness of breath
  • feeling tired
  • chest pain

While you’re taking Verzenio, your doctor will monitor your lungs and how well you’re breathing. Tell your doctor if you develop any symptoms of lung disease or pneumonitis. They may decrease your dose or have you stop taking Verzenio if your lung disease is serious.

Liver damage

Taking Verzenio may cause an increased level of liver enzymes. These are special proteins made in the liver, and a high level can raise your risk for liver damage.

In clinical trials of people who took just Verzenio, 30% to 31% of them had changes in their liver, and these changes were severe in 3% to 4% of the people. Verzenio wasn’t compared with a different drug or a placebo.

How often liver damage occurs when Verzenio is taken with fulvestrant or an aromatase inhibitor, such as anastrozole, may differ.

How your doctor will monitor you

Before you start taking Verzenio, your doctor will test your liver through bloodwork. They’ll continue testing your blood every 2 weeks for 2 months, and then every month for 2 months. If you develop changes in your liver function, your doctor may decrease your dose, pause your treatment, or have you stop taking Verzenio completely.

Symptoms of liver problems can include:

  • pain in the upper right side of your belly
  • loss of appetite
  • bleeding or bruising more easily than usual
  • feeling tired
  • yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes
  • nausea and vomiting

If you develop symptoms of liver damage, tell your doctor right away. They’ll do blood tests while you’re taking Verzenio to see if your liver is still working properly.

Hair loss

Hair loss is possible with Verzenio. In clinical trials, hair loss occurred in about 12% of people who took just Verzenio. Verzenio wasn’t compared with a different drug or a placebo.

How often hair loss occurs when Verzenio is taken with fulvestrant or an aromatase inhibitor, such as anastrozole, may differ.

If you develop hair loss that’s bothersome to you, talk with your doctor. They may be able to suggest helpful remedies.

Other drugs are available that can treat breast cancer. Some may be a better fit for you than others. If you’re interested in finding an alternative to Verzenio, talk with your doctor. They can tell you about other medications that may work well for you.

Examples of other drugs that may be used to treat breast cancer include:

You may wonder how Verzenio compares with other medications that are prescribed for similar uses. Here we look at how Verzenio and Ibrance are alike and different.

Ingredients

Verzenio is in a class of drugs called kinase inhibitors. (A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way.) This type of treatment targets the growth of cancer cells. The active drug ingredient in Verzenio is abemaciclib.

Ibrance is also in the kinase inhibitor drug class. The active drug ingredient in Ibrance is palbociclib.

Uses

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Verzenio to treat advanced or metastatic breast cancer that is hormone receptor-positive (HR-positive) and HER2-negative. Advanced breast cancer has spread from the breast to the lymph nodes or other tissue near the breast. And metastatic breast cancer has spread from the breast to areas such as the liver or lungs. Verzenio is to be used:

  • as the first endocrine therapy (a kind of hormone therapy) with a type of drug called an aromatase inhibitor, such as anastrozole (Arimidex), in women who have gone through menopause
  • with fulvestrant (Faslodex) in women who tried endocrine therapy but their cancer got worse
  • by itself in adults whose metastatic cancer progresses (worsens or spreads) after endocrine therapy and chemotherapy

Ibrance is FDA-approved to be used in people with advanced or metastatic breast cancer that is HR-positive and HER2-negative:

  • as the first treatment with an aromatase inhibitor in men as well as women who have gone through menopause
  • with fulvestrant in people whose disease got worse after hormone therapy

Drug forms and administration

Verzenio comes as a tablet that you swallow, and you’ll usually take it twice a day.

Ibrance comes as a capsule that you swallow. You’ll usually take it once a day for 21 days and then stop taking it for 7 days.

Side effects and risks

Verzenio and Ibrance both contain drugs in the same class called kinase inhibitors. And both of these medications work by targeting the growth of breast cancer cells. Therefore, these medications can cause some similar and some different side effects. Below are examples of these side effects.

Mild side effects

These lists contain examples of mild side effects that can occur with Verzenio, with Ibrance, or with both drugs (when taken individually).

Serious side effects

These lists contain examples of serious side effects that can occur with Verzenio, with Ibrance, or with both drugs (when taken individually).

Effectiveness

The only condition both Verzenio and Ibrance are used to treat is advanced or metastatic breast cancer in people with HR-positive, HER2-negative disease.

These drugs haven’t been directly compared in clinical studies, but studies have found both Verzenio and Ibrance to be effective for treating breast cancer.

There are current studies that will test both Ibrance and Verzenio with an aromatase inhibitor and other medications in the treatment of breast cancer. Researchers are still recruiting people for the study, which will likely be published by early 2022.

Costs

Verzenio and Ibrance are both brand-name drugs. There are currently no generic forms of either drug. Brand-name medications usually cost more than generics.

According to estimates on WellRx.com, Verzenio costs less than Ibrance. The actual price you’ll pay for either drug depends on your insurance plan, your location, and the pharmacy you use.

Like Ibrance (above), the drug Kisqali has uses similar to those of Verzenio. Here’s a comparison of how Verzenio and Kisqali are alike and different.

Ingredients

Verzenio is in a class of drugs called kinase inhibitors. (A class of drugs is a group of medications that work in a similar way.) This type of treatment targets the growth of cancer cells. The active drug ingredient in Verzenio is abemaciclib.

Kisqali is also in the kinase inhibitor drug class. The active drug ingredient in Kisqali is ribociclib.

Uses

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved Verzenio to treat advanced or metastatic breast cancer that is hormone receptor-positive (HR-positive) and HER2-negative. Advanced breast cancer has spread from the breast to the lymph nodes or other tissue near the breast. And metastatic breast cancer has spread from the breast to areas such as the liver or lungs. Verzenio is to be used:

  • as the first endocrine therapy (a type of hormone therapy) with a type of drug called an aromatase inhibitor, such as anastrozole (Arimidex), in women who have gone through menopause
  • with fulvestrant (Faslodex) in women who tried endocrine therapy but their cancer got worse
  • by itself in adults whose metastatic cancer progresses (worsens or spreads) after endocrine therapy and chemotherapy

Kisqali is FDA-approved to be used in people with advanced or metastatic breast cancer that is HR-positive and HER2-negative:

  • as a first treatment with an aromatase inhibitor in women
  • as a first treatment with fulvestrant in women who have gone through menopause
  • with fulvestrant in women who have gone through menopause whose breast cancer got worse after hormone therapy

Drug forms and administration

Verzenio comes as a tablet that you swallow, and you’ll usually take it twice a day.

Kisqali also comes as a tablet that you swallow. You’ll usually take three tablets at once, one time a day. You’ll typically do this for 21 days and then stop for 7 days.

Side effects and risks

Verzenio and Kisqali both contain drugs in the same class called kinase inhibitors. And both of these medications work by targeting the growth of breast cancer cells. Therefore, these medications can cause some similar and some different side effects. Below are examples of these side effects.

Mild side effects

These lists contain examples of mild side effects that can occur with Verzenio, with Kisqali, or with both drugs (when taken individually).

Serious side effects

These lists contain examples of serious side effects that can occur with Verzenio, with Kisqali, or with both drugs (when taken individually).

Effectiveness

The only condition both Verzenio and Kisqali are used to treat is advanced or metastatic breast cancer in people with HR-positive, HER2-negative disease.

These drugs haven’t been directly compared in clinical studies, but studies have found both Verzenio and Kisqali to be effective for treating advanced or metastatic breast cancer.

Costs

Verzenio and Kisqali are both brand-name drugs. There are currently no generic forms of either drug. Brand-name medications usually cost more than generics.

According to estimates on WellRx.com, Verzenio costs less than Kisqali. The actual price you’ll pay for either drug depends on your insurance plan, your location, and the pharmacy you use.

In breast cancer, cancer cells in your breast grow and divide too quickly and out of control. Verzenio is a treatment for advanced or metastatic breast cancer. Advanced breast cancer has spread from the breast to the lymph nodes or other tissue near the breast. And metastatic breast cancer has spread from the breast to areas such as the liver or lungs.

Breast cancer and life expectancy

Life expectancy is the amount of time that a person is expected to live. This may also be called survival rate. According to the American Cancer Society, the 5-year survival rate for people with any stage of breast cancer is 90%. This means that people with breast cancer are 90% as likely as people without breast cancer to survive for 5 years.

The 5-year survival rate for regional breast cancer is 85%. “Regional” refers to cancer that has spread from the breast to the lymph nodes or nearby areas of the body. This would be considered advanced breast cancer. The 5-year survival rate for metastatic breast cancer is only 27%. This is cancer that has spread to farther areas such as the liver, bones, or lungs.

What Verzenio does

Verzenio isn’t chemotherapy. It’s a type of medication called targeted therapy, which works by targeting a specific area of your body where the cancer is growing. Verzenio targets proteins called CDK4 and CDK6 that control cell growth and division. Verzenio works by blocking CDK4 and CDK6, which stops the cells from growing and dividing. This decreases the number of cancer cells and causes them to become inactive or die.

How long does it take to work?

Verzenio starts to work soon after you take your first dose. However, you won’t be able to tell when it’s working. Your doctor will do various tests throughout your treatment to monitor how well Verzenio is working for you.

The Verzenio dosage your doctor prescribes will depend on several factors. These include:

  • the type and severity of the condition you’re using Verzenio to treat
  • other medical conditions you may have
  • other medications you’re taking along with Verzenio

Typically, your doctor will start you on a low dosage. 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.

Drug forms and strengths

Verzenio comes as a tablet that you swallow. Verzenio is available in the following strengths: 50 mg, 100 mg, 150 mg, and 200 mg.

Dosage for breast cancer

You’ll usually take one tablet twice a day, with or without food. Take your doses at about the same time each day so there’s a consistent level of the drug in your body. Your doctor may change your dose if you have side effects. (For more about side effects, see the “Verzenio side effects” section above. Talk with your doctor about the right dose for you.

Dosage when used in combination with other drugs

When Verzenio is taken with either an aromatase inhibitor, such as anastrozole (Arimidex) or letrozole (Femara), or with fulvestrant (Faslodex), the dose is one 150-mg tablet twice a day.

Dosage when used alone

When Verzenio is taken by itself, the dose is one 200-mg tablet twice a day.

What if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of Verzenio or if you vomit your dose, don’t take another dose. Take your following dose of medication at the next scheduled time.

To help make sure that you don’t miss a dose, try setting a reminder on your phone. A medication timer may be useful, too.

If you have nausea and vomiting while taking Verzenio, talk with your doctor. They may consider switching your medication to help ease your side effects.

Will I need to use this drug long term?

Verzenio is meant to be used as a long-term treatment. If you and your doctor determine that Verzenio is safe and effective for you, you’ll likely take it long term. Usually, Verzenio is used as long as you can handle any side effects. But your doctor may stop your Verzenio treatment if your condition is getting worse.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves prescription drugs such as Verzenio to treat certain conditions. Verzenio may also be used off-label for other conditions. Off-label use is when a drug that’s approved to treat one condition is used to treat a different condition.

Verzenio is used in the treatment of certain types of breast cancer. This is a condition in which cells in the breast overgrow and usually form a lump. When breast cancer spreads from the breast to other parts of the body, such as the blood vessels or lymph nodes, it’s called metastatic breast cancer.

Verzenio is used to treat advanced or metastatic breast cancer that is hormone receptor-positive (HR-positive) and HER2-negative. The medication is to be used:

  • as the first endocrine therapy (a type of hormone therapy) with a type of drug called an aromatase inhibitor, such as anastrozole (Arimidex), in women who have gone through menopause
  • with fulvestrant (Faslodex) in women who tried endocrine therapy but their cancer got worse
  • by itself in adults whose metastatic cancer progresses (worsens or spreads) after endocrine therapy and chemotherapy

Effectiveness

Verzenio is an effective medication in treating breast cancer and helping people with metastatic breast cancer that’s HR-positive and HER2-negative to live longer.

Progression-free survival rates

Clinical trials of Verzenio looked at the progression-free survival rate. This is the amount of time that a person goes without their condition getting any worse. On average, people who took both Verzenio and fulvestrant went 16.4 months without progression. In comparison, people who took a placebo (treatment with no active drug) along with fulvestrant had a progression-free survival rate of 9.3 months.

In clinical trials of people who took Verzenio with an aromatase inhibitor such as anastrozole, the progression-free survival rate was about 28.2 months. In comparison, the progression-free survival rate for people who took a placebo with an aromatase inhibitor was about 14.8 months.

Objective response rates

Other clinical trials looked at the objective response rate. This is the percentage of people who had a complete or partial response to Verzenio. A complete response is when no more cancer is present. A partial response is when there is at least a 30% decrease in the size of the tumor.

The objective response rate of people who took Verzenio with fulvestrant was 48.1%. This means that 48.1% of people who took both of these medications had a complete or partial response. In comparison, only 21.3% of people who took a placebo with fulvestrant had a complete or partial response.

The objective response rate of people who took Verzenio and an aromatase inhibitor such as anastrozole (Arimidex) was 55.4%. In comparison, the objective response rate of people who took a placebo with an aromatase inhibitor was 40.2%.

And 19.7% of people who took just Verzenio to treat their metastatic breast cancer had a partial response to the medication. The partial response lasted on average about 8.6 months. Verzenio wasn’t compared with a different drug or a placebo.

Verzenio may be used along with other medications in the treatment of breast cancer. Women who have gone through menopause and have advanced or metastatic breast cancer that is hormone receptor-positive (HR-positive) and HER2-negative will usually take Verzenio with an aromatase inhibitor. Examples of aromatase inhibitors include anastrozole (Arimidex) and letrozole (Femara).

Verzenio can also be used with fulvestrant (Faslodex). These two medications may be used together to treat advanced or metastatic breast cancer that is HR-positive and HER2-negative if the person has tried hormone therapy but their cancer got worse.

There’s no known interaction between Verzenio and alcohol. However, it’s possible that Verzenio can increase your level of liver enzymes (special proteins made in the liver), which may lead to liver damage. And drinking alcohol regularly may also raise your level of liver enzymes.

Your doctor will be able to help you determine what amount of alcohol is safe for you to drink.

Verzenio can interact with several other medications. It can also interact with certain foods.

Different interactions can cause different effects. For instance, some interactions can interfere with how well a drug works. Other interactions can increase the number of side effects or make them more severe.

Verzenio and other medications

Below is a list of medications that can interact with Verzenio. This list doesn’t contain all drugs that may interact with Verzenio.

Before taking Verzenio, talk with your doctor and pharmacist. Tell them about all prescription, over-the-counter, and other drugs you take. Also tell them about any vitamins, herbs, and supplements you use. Sharing this information can help you avoid potential interactions.

If you have questions about drug interactions that may affect you, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Verzenio and certain antimicrobial medications

Antimicrobial medications are used to treat bacterial, viral, or fungal infections. Some of these medications may interact with Verzenio and cause your body to not break down Verzenio as quickly. This can cause a buildup of Verzenio in your body, which can increase your risk of side effects. (For more about side effects, see the “Verzenio side effects” section above.)

Examples of antimicrobial medications that shouldn’t be taken with Verzenio include:

  • ketoconazole (Nizoral)
  • ritonavir (Norvir)
  • clarithromycin (Biaxin)
  • indinavir (Crixivan)
  • itraconazole (Sporanox)
  • lopinavir (Kaletra)
  • nelfinavir (Viracept)
  • saquinavir (Fortovase)
  • telithromycin (Ketek)
  • erythromycin (Erythrocin)

If you’re taking any of these medications or any other antimicrobial drug, tell your doctor before you start using Verzenio. They may suggest a different antimicrobial drug.

Verzenio and herbs and supplements

There aren’t any herbs or supplements that have been specifically reported to interact with Verzenio. However, you should still check with your doctor or pharmacist before using any of these products while taking Verzenio.

Verzenio and foods

You shouldn’t drink grapefruit juice or eat grapefruit while you’re taking Verzenio. This is because grapefruit can raise the level of Verzenio in your body, which may increase your risk for side effects and may be harmful to you. (For more about side effects, see the “Verzenio side effects” section above.)

As with all medications, the cost of Verzenio can vary. To find current prices for Verzenio in your area, check out WellRx.com.

The cost you find on WellRx.com is what you may pay without insurance. The actual price you’ll pay depends on your insurance plan, your location, and the pharmacy you use.

Your insurance plan may require you to get prior authorization before approving coverage for Verzenio. This means that your doctor and insurance company will need to communicate about your prescription before the insurance company will cover the drug. The insurance company will review the request and let you and your doctor know if your plan will cover Verzenio.

If you’re not sure if you’ll need to get prior authorization for Verzenio, contact your insurance plan.

Financial and insurance assistance

If you need financial support to pay for Verzenio, or if you need help understanding your insurance coverage, help is available.

Eli Lilly and Company, the manufacturer of Verzenio, offers a program called Verzenio Continuous Care. For more information and to find out if you’re eligible for support, call 844-VERZENIO (844-837-9364) or visit the program website.

You should take Verzenio according to your doctor’s or healthcare provider’s instructions. Verzenio comes as a tablet that you swallow.

When to take

You’ll usually take one tablet of Verzenio twice a day at about the same time each day.

To help make sure that you don’t miss a dose, try setting a reminder on your phone. A medication timer may be useful, too.

Taking Verzenio with food

You can take Verzenio with or without food. But be sure to avoid grapefruit and grapefruit juice. (To learn more, see the “Verzenio interactions” section above.)

Can Verzenio be crushed, split, or chewed?

No, you shouldn’t crush, split, or chew Verzenio tablets. You should swallow them whole. Don’t take a Verzenio tablet if it’s broken or cracked.

Verzenio shouldn’t be used during pregnancy. There are no studies on pregnant women who have taken the drug. However, animal studies show that Verzenio can cause harm to a developing baby. In a study of pregnant animals who were given Verzenio, the developing babies had a lower body weight and an increased risk of defects of their heart or skeleton.

Before you start taking Verzenio, your doctor may give you a pregnancy test if you can become pregnant. If you’re pregnant or plan to become pregnant, talk with your doctor before taking Verzenio. They may be able to suggest different treatment options.

Verzenio shouldn’t be used during pregnancy. If you’re a woman who is age 15 to 49 years, your doctor will likely give you a pregnancy test before you start using Verzenio. You should also use contraception while you’re taking the drug and for at least 3 weeks after your last dose of Verzenio.

If you’re sexually active and you or your partner can become pregnant, talk with your doctor about your birth control needs while you’re using Verzenio.

It’s possible that men who take Verzenio may have decreased fertility. Although this hasn’t yet been studied in humans, it has been studied in animals. So if you’re a man, talk with your doctor about how Verzenio may impact your fertility.

You shouldn’t breastfeed while taking Verzenio and for 3 weeks after your last dose of the drug. This is done as a precaution because it isn’t known if Verzenio is harmful to a child who is breastfed. There’s no data on whether Verzenio passes into the breast milk of women who are taking the medication or if there’s an effect on breastfed children.

If you have questions on the best way to feed your child while taking Verzenio, talk with your doctor.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about Verzenio.

Can Verzenio be used in men with breast cancer?

Yes. Verzenio can be used in men or women with advanced or metastatic breast cancer that is hormone receptor-positive (HR-positive) and HER2-negative.

If you’re a man with breast cancer and have questions about Verzenio or other treatment options, talk with your doctor.

Is Verzenio a chemotherapy drug?

No, Verzenio isn’t a chemotherapy drug. Verzenio is a targeted therapy. This means that it works by targeting a specific part of your body to stop the spread of cancer. Targeted therapy may have fewer side effects than chemotherapy medications because it works on cancer cells in a certain area. Chemotherapy, on the other hand, can affect healthy cells as well as cancer cells throughout your body.

Is Verzenio safe for older women to take?

Yes. There are no age limits for adult women or men who can take Verzenio. However, older people may have more side effects from the medication. (For more about side effects, see the “Verzenio side effects” section above.) This is because their bodies break down the medication more slowly, and it can have a stronger effect on them.

Talk with your doctor if you’re concerned about your age having an impact on your Verzenio treatment.

Can I use Verzenio if I haven’t gone through menopause yet?

It depends. Verzenio may be used in certain women with breast cancer who are premenopausal (haven’t started menopause yet) or perimenopausal (are in the stage right before menopause).

Menopause status matters because premenopausal and postmenopausal women produce the hormone estrogen from different places in their bodies. Because estrogen plays a large role in HR-positive breast cancers, it’s often targeted for treatment. Your doctor will choose the right breast cancer treatment for you based on your menopause status (along with your other health factors).

Verzenio is approved for use in people with advanced or metastatic breast cancer that is HR-positive and HER2-negative whose condition progressed (worsened or spread)after trying hormone therapy and chemotherapy.

Verzenio is also approved for use in women with advanced or metastatic breast cancer that is HR-positive and HER2-negative whose condition progressed after trying just hormone therapy. In this situation, Verzenio is used with a drug called fulvestrant (Faslodex).

Talk with your doctor about your menopause status to find out if Verzenio is right for you.

Before taking Verzenio, talk with your doctor about your health history. Verzenio may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors affecting your health. These include:

  • Current infections. If you have a current infection such as pneumonia, tell your doctor before starting to take Verzenio. The drug may decrease your immune system function, and your body may not be able to fight an infection as well as it normally would. Your doctor may want to treat your infection before you start taking Verzenio to avoid any risks.
  • Liver problems. Verzenio can increase the level of liver enzymes (special proteins made in the liver). This can lead to liver damage. So if you already have liver problems, they may become worse while you take Verzenio. Your doctor will do blood tests to check your liver while you’re using Verzenio and will be able to determine if you can keep taking the medication.
  • Kidney problems. It’s possible that Verzenio may increase the level of creatinine (a waste product that shows how well your kidneys are working). So if you already have kidney problems, an increased creatinine level may make your kidney function worse. Your doctor may monitor how your kidneys are working while you’re taking Verzenio.
  • Low white blood cell count. Verzenio can lower your level of white blood cells. If you already have neutropenia (a low white blood cell count), this side effect can be dangerous. So your doctor may wait until the level of your white blood cells increases before you start taking Verzenio. They’ll keep testing your blood while you’re using Verzenio to be sure your white blood cells are at a safe level.
  • Pregnancy. Verzenio shouldn’t be used during pregnancy. For more information, please see the “Verzenio and pregnancy” section above.
  • Breastfeeding. You shouldn’t breastfeed while taking Verzenio and for 3 weeks after your last dose of the drug. For more information, please see the “Verzenio and breastfeeding” section above.

Note: For more information about the potential negative effects of Verzenio, see the “Verzenio side effects” section above.

Using more than the recommended dosage of Verzenio can lead to serious side effects. Don’t use more Verzenio than your doctor recommends.

Overdose symptoms

There haven’t been any known cases of Verzenio overdose. So it isn’t known what side effects you may have from taking too much of the medication.

What to do in case of overdose

If you think you’ve taken too much of this drug, call your doctor. You can also call the American Association of Poison Control Centers at 800-222-1222 or use their online tool. But if your symptoms are severe, call 911 or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

When you get Verzenio from the pharmacy, the pharmacist will add an expiration date to the label on the dose pack. This date is typically 1 year from the date they dispensed the medication.

The expiration date helps guarantee that the medication is effective during this time. The current stance of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is to avoid using expired medications. If you have unused medication that has gone past the expiration date, talk with your pharmacist about whether you might still be able to use it.

Storage

How long a medication remains good can depend on many factors, including how and where you store the medication.

You should store Verzenio tablets at room temperature between 68°F to 77°F (20°C to 25°C). If needed, it’s fine to keep the medication between 59°F to 86°F (15°C to 30°C) for a short time. Keep them in a tightly sealed container away from light. Avoid storing this medication in areas where it could get damp or wet, such as in bathrooms.

Disposal

If you no longer need to take Verzenio and have leftover medication, it’s important to dispose of it safely. This helps prevent others, including children and pets, from taking the drug by accident. It also helps keep the drug from harming the environment.

The FDA website provides several useful tips on medication disposal. You can also ask your pharmacist for information on how to dispose of your medication.

The following information is provided for clinicians and other healthcare professionals.

Indications

Verzenio is approved for use in certain types of breast cancer. It has been approved in patients with advanced or metastatic breast cancer that is hormone receptor-positive (HR-positive) and HER2-negative.

Verzenio is currently approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA):

  • as an initial therapy along with an aromatase inhibitor in postmenopausal women
  • to be used along with fulvestrant in people who tried endocrine therapy but their cancer progressed
  • as monotherapy in patients whose cancer that worsened after endocrine therapy and chemotherapy have been tried

Mechanism of action

Verzenio inhibits a kinase enzyme called cyclin-dependent kinase (CDK), which typically helps to control the cell cycle. Specifically, Verzenio blocks CDK4 and CDK6.

By blocking CDK4 and CDK6, Verzenio also blocks phosphorylation of a protein called the retinoblastoma protein. This inhibits the cell cycle from continuing from G1 into S phase. By blocking the cell cycle, Verzenio causes deterioration and death of the cells. Overall, this results in decreased production of cancer cells and a decreased tumor size.

Pharmacokinetics and metabolism

Steady state of Verzenio occurred within 5 days of twice-daily dosing. The drug reaches its maximum concentration (Tmax) at about 8 hours. Its absolute bioavailability after a single dose is about 45%. A high-fat and high-calorie meal may increase the absorption of Verzenio.

The half-life of Verzenio is about 18.3 hours. This medication is mainly metabolized hepatically via cytochrome P450 (CYP) 3A4. CYP3A4 causes formation of the major metabolite, N-desethylabemaciclib.

Verzenio is cleared by the liver. After a single dose, about 81% of the drug is excreted in the feces and only 3% in the urine.

Contraindications

There are no absolute contraindications to taking Verzenio. However, this medication can cause birth defects and should not be taken by pregnant women.

Storage

Verzenio should be stored at room temperature between 68°F to 77°F (20°C to 25°C). However, excursions are allowed to 59°F to 86°F (15°C to 30°C). It should be kept in a tightly sealed container away from light. Do not store this medication in areas where it could get damp or wet, such as bathrooms.

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.