Imbruvica - Uses - Dosages - Side Effects - Precautions

Imbruvica: Frequently Asked Questions Answered

What is Imbruvica?

Imbruvica (generic name: ibrutinib) is used for the treatment of some types of cancers (B-cell malignancies) in adults. It belongs to a class of drugs known as kinase inhibitors. Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) is a protein in B cells. It sends signals to B cells to survive and multiply. Imbruvica blocks this BTK signalling and stops the survival and growth of cancerous B cells. Imbruvica is different from chemotherapy and has increased compliance because it is a once-a-day oral therapy.

What are the uses of Imbruvica?

Imbruvica is used for the treatment of the following:

  • Mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) in patients who have received at least one prior treatment.
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL)
  • Small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL)
  • Chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL)/Small lymphocytic lymphoma (SLL) with 17p deletion.
  • Marginal zone lymphoma (MZL) in patients undergoing prior treatment, but need continued systemic therapy, either orally or intravenously.
  • Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia (WM)
  • Chronic graft versus host disease (cGVHD) in patients who have failed one or more lines of prior systemic therapy.

The treatment efficacy and safety profile of Imbruvica is not yet established in children.

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What are the side effects of Imbruvica?

The severe side effects of Imbruvica are as follows:

  • Haemorrhage (bleeding problems). Inform your doctor if you have any signs of bleeding, such as dark stools, bloody or pink urine or blood in vomit. These side effects can be life-threatening. 

Other side effects of Imbruvica are as follows:

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • High blood pressure
  • Risk of infections
  • Decreased blood cell counts
  • New cancers, such as skin cancer
  • Tumour lysis syndrome can cause kidney failure and irregular heartbeat.

Some less serious but most common side effects of Imbruvica are:

  • Diarrhoea
  • Muscle and bone pain
  • Tiredness
  • Bruising
  • Mouth sores


Frequently Asked Questions about Imbruvica

1. Can you drink coffee with Imbruvica?

Diarrhoea is the most common side effect of Imbruvica, and coffee, being a diuretic, can worsen dehydration. Thus, coffee should be avoided while on Imbruvica.

2. What foods do you have to avoid while on Imbruvica?

While on Imbruvica, you should avoid grapefruit, grapefruit juice, and Seville oranges (an ingredient in marmalades). These foods can increase the level of Imbruvica in your blood and increase the risk of side effects. Furthermore, alcoholic beverages and caffeinated drinks should also be avoided, as they act as diuretics and can worsen dehydration in patients on Imbruvica.

3. What is the best time of the day to take Imbruvica?

Absorption of Imbruvica is slightly better with food, though it is also good on an empty stomach. So, you can take it either way. What is most important is to take it with a glass of water at about the same time every day. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember, and then take the next one according to the regular schedule.

4. Does Imbruvica make you tired?

Common side effects of Imbruvica include weakness, tiredness, lack of energy, and muscle and bone pain. It is essential to stay hydrated while taking Imbruvica. Dehydration can make you feel tired. The red blood cell count may decrease while taking Imbruvica. Therefore, you should get yourself checked for anaemia as it may also increase your risk of weakness.

5. Can Imbruvica cause memory loss?

Imbruvica can cause memory loss in about 1.4% of patients. Memory loss is more commonly seen in male patients over 60 years of age who have been on treatment with Imbruvica for 1 to 6 months.

6. Does Imbruvica cause weight gain?

As the energy-wasting cancer cells decrease in number from treatment with Imbruvica, it can also increase the patient’s appetite, and they end up eating more and gaining weight. After six months of therapy, the average weight gain was found to be about 4 pounds.

7. Can Imbruvica cause depression?

The side effect of depression is not commonly seen with Imbruvica treatment. A study showed depression was aggravated in about 0.94% of the patients.

8. Is Imbruvica chemo?

Imbruvica (ibrutinib) is not chemotherapy. It falls under the category of targeted therapy. Targeted drug therapy targets the specific reason why a cell becomes cancerous. Imbruvica blocks BTK signalling in cancer cells.

9. How long does it take for Imbruvica to start working?

Depending upon the condition for which the drug is being given, the clinical results may become apparent after 1 to 4.5 months. However, Imbruvica starts working right from the first dose.

10. Can ibrutinib cause liver damage?

Liver damage due to ibrutinib is very rare. It has been associated with some cases of hepatitis B reactivation. Consult our medical experts for more information.

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Disclaimer: The information provided herein is accurate, updated and complete as per the best practices of the Company. Please note that this information should not be treated as a replacement for physical medical consultation or advice. We do not guarantee the accuracy and the completeness of the information so provided. The absence of any information and/or warning to any drug shall not be considered and assumed as an implied assurance of the Company. We do not take any responsibility for the consequences arising out of the aforementioned information and strongly recommend you for a physical consultation in case of any queries or doubts.