Nilotinib (By mouth)


Nilotinib (nye-LOE-ti-nib)

Treats cancer, including leukemia.

Brand Name(s)


When This Medicine Should Not Be Used

How to Use This Medicine


  • Medicines used to treat cancer are very strong and can have many side effects. Before receiving this medicine, make sure you understand all the risks and benefits. It is important for you to work closely with your doctor during your treatment.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Your dose may need to be changed several times to find what works best for you.
  • It is best to take this medicine on an empty stomach. Take the medicine at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after eating.
  • Drink extra water to help avoid possible side effects.
  • Swallow the capsule whole with water. If you cannot swallow the capsule whole, you may open the capsule and sprinkle the contents over one teaspoon of applesauce. Swallow the mixture right away (within 15 minutes). Do not save any of the mixture to use later.
  • Do not change your dose or stop using this medicine without checking first with your doctor.
  • This medicine should come with a Medication Guide. Ask your pharmacist for a copy if you do not have one.
  • Missed dose: If you miss a dose of this medicine, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.
  • Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Some foods and medicines can affect how nilotinib works. Tell your doctor if you are using any of the following:
    • St John's wort, dexamethasone, haloperidol, methadone, nefazodone, pimozide
    • a blood thinner (such as warfarin)
    • antibiotics (such as clarithromycin, itraconazole, ketoconazole, moxifloxacin, rifabutin, rifampin, rifapentine, telithromycin, voriconazole)
    • medicine for heart rhythm problems (such as amiodarone, disopyramide, procainamide, quinidine, sotalol)
    • medicine for seizures (such as carbamazepine, midazolam, phenobarbital, phenytoin)
    • medicine to treat HIV or AIDS (such as atazanavir, indinavir, nelfinavir, ritonavir, saquinavir)
    • medicine to treat malaria (such as chloroquine)
  • Do not take antacids at the same time as nilotinib. If you take medicine to block stomach acid production (such as cimetidine, famotidine, or ranitidine), take it 10 hours before or 2 hours after you take nilotinib. If you take an antacid that contains aluminum hydroxide, magnesium hydroxide, or simethicone, you must take it 2 hours before or 2 hours after you take nilotinib.
  • Do not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice while you are using this medicine.

Warnings While Using This Medicine

  • It is not safe to take this medicine during pregnancy. It could harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor right away if you become pregnant.
  • Tell your doctor if you have liver disease, heart or blood vessel disease, heart rhythm problems, high potassium, low calcium, low phosphate, or low sodium levels, or a history of pancreas problems. Tell your doctor if you had surgery to remove your stomach (total gastrectomy).
  • This medicine may cause the following problems:
    • Heart rhythm problems (such as QT prolongation)
    • Heart or blood vessel problems (such as decreased blood flow to your legs, heart, or brain)
    • Liver or pancreas problems
    • Tumor lysis syndrome
  • This medicine contains lactose. Tell your doctor if you have problems when taking lactose.
  • This medicine may make you bleed, bruise, or get infections more easily. Take precautions to prevent illness and injury. Avoid people who are ill, and wash your hands often. Brush and floss your teeth gently, do not play rough sports, and be careful with sharp objects.
  • Your doctor will do lab tests at regular visits to check on the effects of this medicine. Keep all appointments. You will also need to have an ECG test (electrocardiogram) to check your heart rhythm.
  • Keep all medicine out of the reach of children. Never share your medicine with anyone.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Change in how much or how often you urinate
  • Chest pain or trouble breathing
  • Dark urine or pale stools, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, stomach pain, yellow skin or eyes
  • Fainting, dizziness, or lightheadedness
  • Fast, pounding, or uneven heartbeat
  • Fever, chills, cough, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, and body aches
  • Pain in your lower leg (calf)
  • Sudden and severe stomach pain, nausea, vomiting, fever
  • Sudden or severe headache, problems with vision, speech, or walking
  • Unusual bleeding, bruising, or weakness

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Headache
  • Joint or muscle pain
  • Skin rash or itching

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Version Info

  • Last reviewed on 8/4/2014

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