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Nilotinib (Tasigna)

Find out what nilotinib is, how you have it and other important information about taking nilotinib. 

Nilotinib is a targeted cancer drug (biological therapy) and is also known by its brand name, Tasigna.

It is a treatment for chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML).

How it works

Ninotinib is a type of biological therapy called a tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI). Tyrosine kinases are proteins that act as chemical messengers (enzymes). They can stimulate cancer cells to grow.

Nilotinib blocks a tyrosine kinase protein called Bcr-Abl. The protein is made by chronic myeloid leukaemia cells that have an abnormal chromosome called the Philadelphia chromosome. Blocking this protein stops the leukaemia cells growing. 95 out of 100 people with CML (95%) have the Philadelphia chromosome.

How you have it

Nilotinib comes as red capsules. You usually take 2 capsules twice a day, 12 hours apart. Swallow them whole with a glass of water.

You should not take nilotinib with food. Wait at least 2 hours after eating before taking them. And after you have taken your capsules don't eat for an hour. 

If you can't swallow the whole capsules, you can mix the powder from the capsule with a teaspoon of apple sauce. You need to swallow it immediately and don't use any food other than apple sauce. 

Taking your capsules

You must take capsules according to the instructions your doctor or pharmacist gives you.

You should take the right dose, not more or less.

Never stop taking a cancer drug without talking to your specialist first.

When you have it

You usually carry on taking nilotinib for as long as it works.

Tests during treatment

You have blood tests before starting treatment and during your treatment. They check your levels of blood cells and other substances in the blood. They also check how well your liver and kidneys are working.

Side effects

Important information

Other medicines, foods and drink

Cancer drugs can interact with some other medicines and herbal products. Tell your doctor or pharmacist about any medicines you are taking. This includes vitamins, herbal supplements and over the counter remedies.

Grapefruit and grapefruit juice

You should not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice when you are taking this drug because it can react with the drug.

Pregnancy and contraception

This drug may harm a baby developing in your womb. It is important not to become pregnant or father a child while you are having treatment with this drug and for at least 2 weeks afterwards. Talk to your doctor or nurse about effective contraception before starting treatment.

Fertility

You may not be able to become pregnant or father a child after treatment with this drug. Talk to your doctor before starting treatment if you think you may want to have a baby in the future. Men may be able to store sperm before starting treatment. Women may be able to store eggs or ovarian tissue but this is rare.

Breastfeeding

Don’t breastfeed during this treatment because the drug may come through in your breast milk.

Treatment for other conditions

Always tell other doctors, nurses, pharmacists or dentists that you’re having this treatment if you need treatment for anything else, including teeth problems.

Immunisations

Don’t have immunisations with live vaccines while you’re having treatment and for at least 6 months afterwards.

In the UK, live vaccines include rubella, mumps, measles, BCG, yellow fever and shingles vaccine (Zostavax).

You can:

  • have other vaccines, but they might not give you as much protection as usual
  • have the flu vaccine
  • be in contact with other people who've had live vaccines as injections

Avoid contact with people who’ve had live vaccines taken by mouth (oral vaccines). This includes the rotavirus vaccine given to babies. The virus is in the baby’s urine for up to 2 weeks and can make you ill. So, avoid changing their nappies for 2 weeks after their vaccination if possible. Or wear disposable gloves and wash your hands well afterwards.

You also need to avoid anyone who has had oral polio or typhoid vaccination recently.

More information about this treatment

For further information about this treatment go to the electronic Medicines Compendium (eMC) website.

You can report any side effect you have to the Medicines Health and Regulatory Authority (MHRA) as part of their Yellow Card Scheme.

Information and help

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