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Common Side Effects

Imatinib has been studied extensively in clinical trials. In these studies, the side effects that occurred in a group of people taking the drug were carefully documented and compared to those that occurred in a similar group of people taking a placebo (a "sugar pill" with no active ingredients) or a different medication. As a result, it was possible to see what side effects occurred, how often they appeared, and how they compared to the placebo or the other medicine.
In these studies, the most common imatinib side effects included:
  • Fluid retention or swelling (edema), especially around the eyes or in the legs, ankles, and feet -- in up to 86.1 percent of people
  • Fatigue -- up to 74.9 percent
  • Nausea -- up to 73 percent
  • Muscle cramps -- up to 62 percent
  • Diarrhea -- up to 59.3 percent
  • Vomiting -- up to 58 percent
  • Abdominal pain (stomach pain) and cramping -- up to 57.2 percent
  • Bleeding -- up to 53 percent
  • Rash -- up to 49.8 percent
  • Muscle and bone pain -- up to 49 percent
  • Fever -- up to 41 percent
  • Joint pain -- up to 40 percent
  • Headache -- up to 37.0 percent.
Other common reactions, occurring in 10 to 36 percent of people, included:
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Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
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