Gleevac Side Effects and Lawsuits


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No one ever wants to hear the dreaded word “cancer” after a physician’s examination.  Yet that is a disease that has not yet been conquered, and many millions of Americans still suffer from it.  That’s why the drug Gleevec was welcomed with such anticipation.  Studies showed that this drug, known as imatinib, could inhibit the enzyme that is found in some cancer cells, specifically those found in Chronic Myeloid Leukemia (CML) and Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumors (GIST), preventing and stopping their growth.  Even better, it could do so without as many, or as severe, debilitating side effects found in many cancer treatments.  Gleevec is a product of the Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation.  It was approved for widespread use by the FDA in 2001. 

Risks and Symptoms of Gleevec

While there are always concerns about a new drug, and rarely does any new product enter the market showing no side effects at all, Gleevec has been very promising because of the few reports of serious consequences.  The primary concern is that congenital heart failure has been reported in a small number of users, but most of those cases were in patients who had other risk factors for such a condition.  In response, experts have recommended that doctors who prescribe Gleevec monitor their patients closely for such adverse effects. 

In addition, there have been recent reports of kidney problems as a result of the use of Gleevec in the treatment of desmoids tumors.  However, once the drug was halted, the symptoms disappeared.  At this time, this is an isolated case with little information to indicate it will become a common side effect.

There are some less serious side effects of Gleevec, including:

  • Nausea, diarrhea, and/or vomiting
  • Fluid retention
  • Muscle cramps
  • Skin rash
  • Headache

In addition, there are more serious side effects that are generally uncommon, but nonetheless bear watching:

  • Severe edema, or fluid retention
  • Bleeding/hemorrhaging, especially in elderly patients
  • Liver problems

Reports show that more than 80% of patients who take Gleevec enjoy an additional 5 years of cancer-free living, and the relapse rate of users is low, so that experts generally believe it to be worth the risks.

Gleevec Claims and Lawsuits

At the present time there is little evidence of specific lawsuits filed against Novartis Pharmaceuticals in relations to dangerous side effects, but those taking the drug should continue to be monitored closely by their doctors and watch the news for more information.

Legal Help from a Lawyer  

Any time someone suffers injury at the hands of another, even if that includes a physician prescribing a drug that does harm instead of, or along with, the good, has the right to explore their options for recovering compensation.  Personal injury lawyers are experienced in these cases and can help a client pursue their case, if it is valid.  Consult such an attorney quickly, however, before the state statute of limitations runs out on such cases.

This article is provided for informational purposes only. If you need legal advice or representation,
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