What is Gleevec?
Gleevec is the brand name for Imatinib, a drug currently marketed by Novartis for the treatment of leukemia and other forms of cancer. Unlike chemotherapy, Gleevec does not kill all cells in a targeted area but inhibits a specific enzyme which prevents cancer cells from growing. This drug is often the first drug prescribed to control leukemia. Gleevec is taken orally and is processed by the liver. Additional experimentation is ongoing to test if Gleevec can help treat pulmonary hypertension.
What are the side effects of Gleevec?
Weight gain, pain, and nausea are common as well as a much more uncommon case of congestive cardiac failure. Some tests show that large doses of Gleevec can damage the myocardium of the heart. Pregnant women should not take this medication as there is a chance it will result in birth defects. More recently, patients on Gleevic have reported having hearing loss to the FDA. Lastly, Gleevec may cause unpredicted interactions with other medications as it disrupts the natural functioning of enzymes that process medication leading to potentially higher or lower than expected levels of other drugs in a patient’s system.
Are generic forms of Gleevec available?
At this time, the cost of a year’s treatment with Gleevec can range from $32,000 to $98,000 a year with individual pills costing around $20 – 30 dollars. Efforts to manufacture a generic version in India were met by a Novartis lawsuit that had to be taken before the World Trade Organization.
What can I do if I experience damage from taking Gleevec?
Although instances of hearing loss are rare, there is a chance that more instances of hearing loss will come to light in the future. Individuals that experience can pursue litigation to secure damages for medical bills, loss of wages and pain and anguish. Evidence exists that Gleevec can damage the heart, so this should be taken into account when considering your legal options. Most importantly, liability rests with the doctor to monitor side effects while taking this drug and inform the patient of the potential risks. Side effects are common with this drug and failure to inform the patient thusly may represent a breach of professionalism on the part of the doctor.