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GLIVEC (Gleevec) Imatinib - Anti-Cancer Drug

Imatinib, marketed by Novartis as Gleevec (U.S.) or Glivec (Europe/Australia/Latin America), is a tyrosine-kinase inhibitor used in the treatment of multiple cancers.

Gleevec was originally developed to treat brain tumours but failed to show effectiveness. It has subsequently been licensed for other cancers such as CML and gastro-intestinal cancers and undergone a name change. It is effective in people with the Philadelphia chromosome, and can also be used with GIST (Gastro-intestinal stromal tumours).

glivec - anti cancer drug Side effects caused by this medication can include: nausea, diarrhoea, loss of appetite, headaches, leg cramping, fluid retention, eye problems, skin rashes, lowered resistance to infection, tiredness, and anaemia. Generally side effects with this drug are mild.

When people say Gleevec is a miracle drug, they are usually referring to its phenomenal success rate. In one of the first clinical studies described in medical literature, there was reported that complete hematologic responses were observed in 53 of 54 patients with CML treated with daily dosage of 300 mg or more and typically occurred in the first four weeks of therapy. Hematologic response is one of several ways to measure how well a patient is responding to therapy. In the case of CML, a disease in which patients have too many immature white blood cells in their bone marrow and blood, a complete hematologic response occurs when the patient's white blood cell count returns to within normal range.

More recently, the results of a five-year follow-up study were equally remarkable. In this study, there was found that, after 60 months of Gleevec therapy, 98% of patients had shown a complete hematologic response. Also at 60 months, the estimated overall survival rate for patients was 89%, with a relapse rate of only about 17%.

The obvious advantages of Gleevec are that it is the only drug with long-term (>10 years) experience, its side-effect profile is well known, and in most countries it is the least expensive of the available TKIs.

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