Ponatinib tablets (Iclusig)

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Ponatinib is usually taken once daily. It can be taken before or after meals.

You will need to have regular check-ups. It is important that you keep the regular appointments with your doctor or hospital.

Type of medicineAn anti-cancer medicine
Used forTreatment of leukaemia
Also calledIclusig®
Available asTablets

Ponatinib is a medicine which is given to treat some types of leukaemia. Leukaemia is cancer of cells in the bone marrow - these are the cells which develop into blood cells. Ponatinib is given for the types of leukaemia called chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) and acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL).

In cancer, certain cells in the body grow and multiply in a way that is 'out of control'. Chemotherapy (anti-cancer) medicines work by inhibiting the way cells grow and increase in number. Ponatinib belongs to a group of anti-cancer medicines which work by blocking the chemical messengers which send signals to cells to grow. This stops the production of cancer cells.

Some medicines are not suitable for people with certain conditions, and sometimes a medicine may only be used if extra care is taken. For these reasons, before you start taking ponatinib it is important that your doctor knows:

  • If you have an infection or feel particularly unwell.
  • If you have any problems with the way your liver works.
  • If you have ever had a disorder of your pancreas, called pancreatitis.
  • If you drink large amounts of alcohol.
  • If you have been told you have high levels of fats called triglycerides in your blood.
  • If you have a heart condition or blood vessel disease.
  • If you are pregnant or breast-feeding.
  • If you are taking or using any other medicines. This includes any medicines you are taking which are available to buy without a prescription, such as herbal and complementary medicines.
  • If you have ever had an allergic reaction to a medicine.
  • Before you start the treatment, read any printed information you have been given by your doctor and the printed manufacturer's leaflet from inside the pack of tablets. These will give you more information about ponatinib and will provide a full list of the side-effects which you may experience from taking it.
  • Ponatinib will be prescribed for you by a specialist doctor who is experienced in treating your condition. It is important that you take the tablets exactly as you are told to. It is usual to take one 45 mg tablet daily, although your dose may be different to this. The directions for taking the tablets will be printed on the label of the pack to remind you what your doctor has told you to do, but if you have any concerns or questions, you should contact your doctor or hospital clinic for further advice.
  • You can take ponatinib tablets before or after meals. Swallow the tablet whole with a drink of water - do not crush or chew the tablet.
  • If you forget to take a dose, make sure that you remember to take your next dose when it is due. Do not take two doses on the same day to make up for a forgotten dose.
  • You must try to keep your regular appointments with your doctor or hospital. This is so your doctor can check on your progress. You will need to have regular check-ups during treatment.
  • Ponatinib can lower the number of white cells in your blood and this increases the chance that you may get an infection. You should take precautions to reduce the risk of infection whenever you can. So, if possible, avoid other people with infections and let your doctor know straightaway if you think you are getting a sore throat or if you have a high temperature.
  • If you buy or take any other medicines, check with a pharmacist that they are suitable to take alongside ponatinib.
  • If you are having an operation or dental treatment, always tell the person carrying out the treatment which medicines you are taking.
  • It is important that you do not get pregnant or father a child while you are taking ponatinib. If this could be a possibility for you, make sure you discuss with your doctor which types of contraception are suitable for you and your partner.

Along with their useful effects, most medicines can cause unwanted side-effects although not everyone experiences them. The table below contains some of the most common ones associated with ponatinib. You will find a full list in the manufacturer's information leaflet supplied with your medicine. The unwanted effects often improve as your body adjusts to the new medicine, but speak with your doctor or pharmacist if any of the following continue or become troublesome.

Very common ponatinib side-effects (these affect more than 1 in 10 people)
What can I do if I experience this?
Feeling or being sick, diarrhoea or constipation, abdominal painStick to simple foods - avoid rich or spicy foods
Headache, muscle and joint aches, backacheAsk your doctor or pharmacist to recommend a suitable painkiller
High temperature, infectionsLet your doctor know straightaway so that this can be investigated
Feeling tired or dizzyDo not drive or use tools or machines unless you feel well enough. Do not drink alcohol
Loss of appetite, cough, feeling short of breath, itchy rash, dry skin, swollen hands or feetIf any of these become troublesome, speak with your doctor for advice
Anaemia, high blood pressure, changes to blood testsYour doctor will regularly check for these

If you experience any other symptoms which you think may be due to the tablets, speak with your doctor or pharmacist.

  • Keep all medicines out of the reach and sight of children.
  • Store in a cool, dry place, away from direct heat and light.
  • Please return any unused or unwanted tablets to your clinic or pharmacy to destroy.

Never take more than the prescribed dose. If you suspect that you or someone else might have taken an overdose of this medicine, go to the accident and emergency department of your local hospital. Take the container with you, even if it is empty.

This medicine is for you. Never give it to other people even if their condition appears to be the same as yours.

Do not keep out-of-date or unwanted medicines. Take them to your local pharmacy which will dispose of them for you.

If you have any questions about this medicine ask your pharmacist.

Further reading & references

  • British National Formulary; 67th Edition (March 2014) British Medical Association and Royal Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain, London

Disclaimer: This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. EMIS has used all reasonable care in compiling the information but make no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details see our conditions.

Original Author:
Helen Allen
Current Version:
Peer Reviewer:
Dr Adrian Bonsall
Document ID:
28863 (v1)
Last Checked:
Next Review:
The Information Standard - certified member

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