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Chemotherapy and other systemic treatment regimens may change due to COVID-19. Find out more at Systemic Treatment Regimens During COVID-19.

abemaciclib

( a bem a SYE klib )
Other Name(s): Verzenio™
Appearance: tablet in various strengths, shapes and colours

Medication Information Sheet
abemaciclib (a bem a SYE klib)
This document provides general information about your medication. It does not replace the advice of your health care professional. Always discuss your therapy with your health care professional and refer to the package insert for more details.

Other Name: Verzenio™

Appearance:
tablet

in various strengths, shapes and colours

What is this medication for?
  • For treating certain types of breast cancer.

What should I do before I have this medication?

Tell your health care team if you have or had significant medical condition(s), such as: 

  • lung, liver or kidney problems
  • any blood clots or
  • any allergies

Talk to your health care team if you have fever, chills, or any other signs of an infection.
 

Remember to:

  • Tell your health care team about all of the other medications you are taking.
  • Keep taking other medications that have been prescribed for you, unless you have been told not to by your health care team.
How will this medication affect sex, pregnancy and breastfeeding?

Talk to your health care team about:

  • How this treatment may affect your sexual health.

  • How this treatment may affect your ability to have a baby, if this applies to you.
     

This treatment may harm an unborn baby. Tell your health care team if you or your partner are pregnant, become pregnant during treatment, or are breastfeeding.

  • If there is any chance of pregnancy happening, you and your partner together must use 2 effective forms of birth control at the same time until at least 3 weeks after your last treatment dose. Talk to your health care team about which birth control options are best for you.

  • Do not use hormonal birth control (such as birth control pills), unless your health care team told you that they are safe. Talk to your health care team about the safest birth control for you.

  • Do not breastfeed while on this treatment.

How is this medication given?
  • This medication is usually taken twice a day by mouth. Talk to your health care team about how and when to take your medication

  • Swallow whole with a glass of water, with or without food.

  • Take the dose at about the same time(s) each day.

  • Do not crush or chew the tablets.

  • Do not take chipped or broken tablets.

  • If you vomit (throw up) after taking a dose, do not repeat the dose. Take your next dose at your normal time.

  • If you miss a dose, skip this and take your next dose as you normally do. Do not take an extra dose to make up for the missed dose.

 

To Treat Diarrhea

Abemaciclib can cause diarrhea. Diarrhea is when you have loose bowel movements (watery poo) or you need to go poo (have bowel movements) more often than usual. Diarrhea may start a few days after your treatment.

You may be given a medication called loperamide (Imodium®) to help treat your diarrhea. Take this medication only if you need it. Keep your loperamide with you all the time. When diarrhea starts, take the loperamide right away and drink more fluids.

If you start to have diarrhea:

  • Take 2 tablets (4 mg) of loperamide right away.

  • Take 1 tablet (2 mg) after each loose bowl movement.

  • Do not take more than 8 tablets (16 mg) per day (in a 24 hour period).

 

 

 

What else do I need to know while on this medication?
  • Will this medication interact with other medications or natural health products?

    • This medication can interact with other medications, vitamins, foods and natural health products. Interactions can make the treatment not work as well or cause severe side effects.

    • Tell your health care team about all of your:

      • prescription and over-the-counter (non-prescription) medications and all other drugs, such as marijuana (medical or recreational)

      • natural health products such as vitamins, herbal teas, homeopathic medicines, and other supplements

    • Check with your health care team before starting or stopping any of them.
       

  • If you take seizure medications (such as phenytoin), your health care team will monitor your blood levels closely and may change your dose.

  • What should I do if I feel unwell, have pain, a headache or a fever?

    • Always check your temperature to see if you have a fever before taking any medications for fever or pain (such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil)).

      • Fever can be a sign of infection that may need treatment right away.

      • If you take these medications before you check for fever, they may lower your temperature and you may not know you have an infection.
         

    How to check for fever:

    Keep a digital (electronic) thermometer at home and take your temperature if you feel hot or unwell (for example, chills, headache, mild pain).

    • You have a fever if your temperature taken in your mouth (oral temperature) is:
       
      • 38.3°C (100.9°F) or higher at any time

        OR
         
      • 38.0°C (100.4°F) or higher for at least one hour.


    If you do have a fever:

    • Try to contact your health care team. If you are not able to talk to them for advice, you MUST get emergency medical help right away.
    • Ask your health care team for the Fever pamphlet for more information. 
       

    If you do not have a fever but have mild symptoms such as headache or mild pain:

    • Ask your health care team about the right medication for you. Acetaminophen (Tylenol®) is a safe choice for most people.

    • Talk to your health care team before you start taking Ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®), naproxen (Aleve®) or ASA (Aspirin®), as they may increase your chance of bleeding or interact with your cancer treatment.

    • Talk to your health care team if you already take low dose aspirin for a medical condition (such as a heart problem). It may still be safe to take.
       

  • What to DO while on this medication:

  • DO check with your health care team before getting any vaccinations, surgery, dental work or other medical procedures.

  • DO consider asking someone to drive you to and from the hospital on your treatment days. You may feel drowsy or dizzy after your treatment.

  • What NOT to DO on this medication:

  • DO NOT eat or drink grapefruit, starfruit, Seville oranges or their juices (or products that contain these) while taking this drug. They may increase the amount of drug in your blood and increase side effects. 

  • DO NOT smoke or drink alcohol while on treatment without talking to your health care team first. Smoking and drinking can make side effects worse and make your treatment not work as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How should I safely store this medication?
  • Do not throw out any unused medications at home. Bring them to your pharmacy to be thrown away safely.

  • Keep this medication in the original packaging at room temperature in a dry place, away from heat and light. Keep out of sight and reach of children and pets.

  • How to safely touch oral anti-cancer medications

    If you are a patient:

    • Wash your hands before and after touching your oral anti-cancer medication.

    • Swallow each pill whole. Do not crush or chew your pills.
       

    If you are a caregiver:

    • Wear nitrile or latex gloves when touching tablets, capsules or liquids.

    • Wash your hands before putting on your gloves and after taking them off, even if your skin did not touch the oral anti-cancer medication.

    • Throw out your gloves after each use. Do not re-use gloves.

    • Do not touch oral anti-cancer medications if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.

  • What to do if oral anti-cancer medication gets on your skin or in your eyes

    If medication gets on your skin:

    • Wash your skin with a lot of soap and water. .

    • If your skin gets red or irritated, talk to your health care team.


    If medication gets in your eyes:

    • Rinse your eyes with running water right away. Keep water flowing over your open eyes for at least 15 minutes.

What are the side effects of this medication?

The following table lists side effects that you may have when getting abemaciclib. The table is set up to list the most common side effects first and the least common last.
It is unlikely that you will have all of the side effects listed and you may have some that are not listed.

Read over the side effect table so that you know what to look for and when to get help.  Refer to this table if you experience any side effects while on abemaciclib.

Very Common Side Effects (50 or more out of 100 people)
Side effects and what to do When to contact health care team

Diarrhea

What to look for?

  • Loose, watery, unformed stool (poo) that may happen days to weeks after you get your treatment.
     

What to do?

If you have diarrhea:

  • Take anti-diarrhea medication if your health care team prescribed it or told you to take it.
  • Do not eat foods or drinks with artificial sweetener (like chewing gum or ‘diet’ drinks), coffee and alcohol.
  • Eat many small meals and snacks instead of 2 or 3 large meals.
  • Drink at least 6 to 8 cups of liquids each day, unless your health care team has told you to drink more or less.
  • Talk to your health care team if you can’t drink 6 to 8 cups of liquids each day when you have diarrhea. You may need to drink special liquids with salt and sugar, called Oral Rehydration Therapy.
  • Talk to your health care team if your diarrhea does not improve after 24 hours of taking diarrhea medication or if you have diarrhea more than 7 times in one day.


Ask your health care team for the Diarrhea pamphlet for more information.

Talk to your health care team if no improvement after 24 hours of taking diarrhea medication or if severe (more than 7 times in one day)

 

Common Side Effects (25 to 49 out of 100 people)
Side effects and what to do When to contact health care team

Low neutrophils (white blood cells) in the blood (neutropenia)

When neutrophils are low, you are at risk of getting an infection more easily. Ask your health care team for the Neutropenia (Low white blood cell count) pamphlet for more information.
 

What to look for?

  • If you feel hot or unwell (for example if you have chills or a new cough), you must check your temperature to see if you have a fever.
  • Do not take medications that treat a fever before you take your temperature (for example, Tylenol®, acetaminophen, Advil® or ibuprofen).
  • Do not eat or drink anything hot or cold right before taking your temperature.

You have a fever if your temperature taken in your mouth (oral temperature) is:

  • 38.3°C (100.9°F) or higher at any time

    OR

  • 38.0°C (100.4°F) or higher for at least one hour.
     

What to do?

If your health care team has told you that you have low neutrophils:

  • Wash your hands often to prevent infection.
  • Check with your health care team before getting any vaccines, surgeries, medical procedures or visiting your dentist.
  • Keep a digital thermometer at home so you can easily check for a fever.

 

If you have a fever:

If you have a fever, try to contact your health care team. If you are unable to talk to the team for advice, you must get emergency medical help right away.

If you have a fever, try to contact your health care team. If you are unable to talk to the team for advice, you MUST get emergency medical help right away.

Low platelets in the blood

When your platelets are low, you are at risk for bleeding and bruising. Ask your health care team for the Low Platelet Count pamphlet for more information.
 

What to look for?

  • Watch for signs of bleeding:
    • bleeding from your gums
    • unusual or heavy nosebleeds
    • bruising easily or more than normal
    • black coloured stools (poo) or blood in your stools (poo)
    • coughing up red or brown coloured mucus
    • dizziness, constant headache or changes in your vision
    • heavy vaginal bleeding
    • red or pink coloured urine (pee)

 

What to do?

If your health care team has told you that you have low platelets:

  • Tell your pharmacist that your platelet count may be low before taking any prescriptions or over-the-counter medication.
  • Check with your healthcare team before you go to the dentist.
  • Take care of your mouth and use a soft toothbrush.
  • Try to prevent cuts and bruises.
  • Ask your health care team what activities are safe for you.
  • Your treatment may have to be delayed if you have low platelets. Your health care team may recommend a blood transfusion.
     

If you have signs of bleeding:

  • If you have a small bleed, clean the area with soap and water or a saline (saltwater) rinse. Apply pressure for at least 10 minutes.
     

If you have bleeding that does not stop or is severe (very heavy), you must get emergency medical help right away.

Talk to your health care team if you have any signs of bleeding. If you have bleeding that doesn’t stop or is severe (very heavy), you MUST get emergency help right away.

Fatigue 

What to look for?

  • Feeling of tiredness or low energy that lasts a long time and does not go away with rest or sleep.
     

What to do?

  • Be active. Aim to get 30 minutes of moderate exercise (you are able to talk comfortably while exercising) on most days.
  • Check with your health care team before starting any new exercise.
  • Pace yourself, do not rush. Put off less important activities. Rest when you need to.
  • Ask family or friends to help you with things like housework, shopping, and child or pet care.
  • Eat well and drink at least 6 to 8 glasses of water or other liquids every day (unless your health care team has told you to drink more or less).
  • Avoid driving or using machinery if you are feeling tired.

Ask your health care team for the Fatigue pamphlet for more information. 

Talk to your health care team if it does not improve or if it is severe

Nausea and vomiting

(Generally mild)

What to look for?

  • Nausea is feeling like you need to throw up. You may also feel light-headed.
  • You may feel nausea within hours to days after your treatment.


What to do?

To help prevent nausea:

  • It is easier to prevent nausea than to treat it once it happens.
  • Take your anti-nausea medication(s) as prescribed, even if you do not feel like throwing up.
  • Drink clear liquids and have small meals. Get fresh air and rest.
  • Do not eat spicy, fried foods or foods with a strong smell.
  • Limit caffeine (like coffee, tea) and avoid alcohol.


If you have nausea or vomiting:

  • Take your rescue (as-needed) anti-nausea medication(s) as prescribed.
  • Ask your health care team for the Nausea & Vomiting pamphlet for more information.
  • Talk to your health care team if:
    • nausea lasts more than 48 hours
    • vomiting lasts more than 24 hours or if it is severe
Talk to your health care team if nausea lasts more than 48 hours or vomiting lasts more than 24 hours or if severe

Hair thinning or loss 

(Generally mild)

What to look for?

  • Your hair may begin to become thin or fall out during or after treatment.
  • In most cases, your hair will grow back after treatment, but the texture or colour may change.
  • In very rare cases, hair loss may be permanent.
     

 

What to do?

  • Use a gentle soft brush.
  • Do not use hair sprays, bleaches, dyes and perms.
Talk to your health care team if this bothers you

Low appetite; Weight loss

What to look for?

  • Loss of interest in food or not feeling hungry.
  • Weight loss.


What to do?

  • Try to eat your favourite foods.
  • Eat small meals throughout the day.
  • You may need to take meal supplements to help keep your weight up.
  • Talk to your health care team if you have no appetite.

Ask your health care team for the Loss of Appetite pamphlet for more information.

Talk to your health care team if it does not improve or if it is severe

 

Less Common Side Effects (10 to 24 out of 100 people)
Side effects and what to do When to contact health care team

Abnormal kidney lab tests

Your health care team may check your kidney function regularly with a blood test.
 

What to look for?

  • Signs of a kidney problem include:
    • Swelling
    • Passing very little or no pee
    • New unusual weight gain
    • Nausea (feeling like you need to throw up) and vomiting
    • Loss of appetite
    • Fatigue and weakness
    • Muscle twitches and cramps
    • Itchiness that won’t go away

What to do?

  • If you have these signs, talk to your health care team or go to your closest emergency department.
  • To prevent bladder or kidney problems, drink lots of water or other liquids.  Your doctor may ask you to drink at least 6 to 8 cups (2 L) per day on treatment days, unless you have been told otherwise.
Talk to your health care team if it does not improve or if it is severe

Headache; Mild joint, muscle pain or cramps 

What to look for?

  • New pain in your muscles or joints, muscle cramps, or feeling achy.
     

What to do?

  • Take pain medication (acetaminophen or opioids such as codeine, morphine, hydromorphone, oxycodone) as prescribed.
  • Read the above section: "What should I do if I feel unwell, have pain, a headache or a fever?" on page 3 before taking acetaminophen (Tylenol®), ibuprofen (Advil®, Motrin®), naproxen (Aleve®) or Aspirin. These medications may hide an infection that needs treatment or they may increase your risk of bleeding.
  • Rest often and try light exercise (such as walking) as it may help.

Ask your health care team for the Pain pamphlet for more information.

Talk to your health care team if it does not improve or if it is severe

Liver problems

Your health care team may check your liver function with a blood test. The liver changes do not usually cause any symptoms.


What to look for?

  • Rarely, you may develop yellowish skin or eyes, unusually dark pee or pain on the right side of your belly. This may be severe.


What to do?

If you have any symptoms of liver problems, get emergency medical help right away.

 

 

Get emergency medical help right away

Constipation

What to look for?

  • Having bowel movements (going poo) less often than normal.
  • Small hard stools (poo) that look like pellets.
  • The need to push hard and strain to have any stool (poo) come out.
  • Stomach ache or cramps.
  • A bloated belly, feeling of fullness, or discomfort.
  • Leaking of watery stools (poo).
  • Lots of gas or burping.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
     

What to do?

To help prevent constipation:

  • Try to eat more fiber rich foods like fruits with skin, leafy greens and whole grains.
  • Drink at least 6 to 8 cups of liquids each day unless your health care team has told you to drink more or less.
  • Be Active. Exercise can help to keep you regular.
  • If you take opioid pain medication, ask your health care team if eating more fibre is right for you.
     

To help treat constipation:

  • If you have not had a bowel movement in 2 to 3 days you may need to take a laxative (medication to help you poo) to help you have regular bowel movements. Ask your health care team what to do.

Ask your health care team for the Constipation Pamphlet for more information.

Talk to your health care team if it does not improve or if it is severe

Cough and feeling short of breath

(May be severe)

What to look for?

  • You may have a cough and feel short of breath.
  • Symptoms that commonly occur with a cough are:
    • Wheezing or a whistling breathing
    • Runny nose
    • Sore throat
    • Heartburn
    • Weight loss
    • Fever and chills
  • Rarely this may be severe with chest pain, trouble breathing or coughing up blood.
     

What to do?

  • Check your temperature to see if you have a fever. Read the above section "What should I do if I feel unwell, have pain, a headache or a fever?" on page 3.
  • If you have a fever, try to talk to your health care team. If you are not able to talk to them for advice, you MUST get emergency medical help right away.
  • If you have a severe cough with chest pain, trouble breathing or you are coughing up blood, get medical help right away.
Talk to your health care team. If you are not able to talk to your health care team for advice, and you have a fever or severe symptoms, you MUST get emergency medical help right away

Rash; itchiness, dry, itchy skin

What to look for?

  • You may have cracked, rough, flaking or peeling areas of the skin.
  • Your skin may look red and feel warm, like a sunburn.
  • Your skin may itch, burn, sting or feel very tender when touched.
     

What to do?

To prevent and treat dry skin:

  • Use fragrance-free skin moisturizer.
  • Protect your skin from the sun and the cold.
  • Use sunscreen with UVA and UVB protection and a SPF of at least 30.
  • Avoid perfumed products and lotions that contain alcohol.
  • Drink 6 to 8 cups of non-alcoholic, non-caffeinated liquids each day, unless your health care team has told you to drink more or less.

Rash may be severe in some rare cases and cause your skin to blister or peel. If this happens, get emergency medical help right away.

Talk to your health care team if no improvement or if severe

Dizziness

What to look for?

  • You may feel light-headed and like you might faint (pass out).


What to look for?

  • Lay down right away so you do not fall.
  • Slowly get up and start moving once you feel better.
  • Do not drive a motor vehicle or use machinery if you feel dizzy.
Talk to your health care team if it does not improve or if it is severe

Mouth sores

What to look for?

  • Round, painful, white or gray sores inside your mouth that can occur on the tongue, lips, gums, or inside your cheeks.
  • In more severe cases they may make it hard to swallow, eat or brush your teeth.
  • They may last for 3 days or longer.


What to do?

To help prevent mouth sores: 

  • Take care of your mouth by gently brushing and flossing regularly.
  • Rinse your mouth often with a homemade mouthwash.
  • To make a homemade mouthwash, mix 1 teaspoonful of baking soda and 1 teaspoonful of salt in 4 cups (1L) of water.
  • Do not use store-bought mouthwashes, especially those with alcohol, because they may irritate your mouth.


If you have mouth sores:

  • Avoid hot, spicy, acidic, hard or crunchy foods.
  • Your doctor may prescribe a special mouthwash to relieve mouth sores and prevent infection.
  • Talk to your health care team as soon as you notice mouth or lip sores or if it hurts to eat, drink or swallow.

Ask your health care team for the Oral Care (Mouth Care) pamphlet for more information.

Talk to your health care team as soon as you notice mouth or lip sores or if it hurts to eat, drink or swallow

Flu-like symptoms

You may feel like you have the flu for around 2 days after your IV treatment. These flu-like symptoms may not be signs of an infection.

 

What to look for?

  • You may have chills, headache and muscle pain.
  • You may feel tired and have a poor appetite.
  • Symptoms may happen at any time after you receive your treatment and usually go away as your body gets used to the medication.
     

What to do?

  • Check your temperature to see if you have a fever. Read the above section "What should I do if I feel unwell, have pain, a headache or a fever?" on page 3.
  • If you do have a fever, try to speak to your health care team. If you are unable to talk to them for advice, you MUST get emergency medical help right away.
Talk to your health care team if it does not improve or if it is severe

Taste changes

What to look for?

  • Food and drinks may taste different than usual.
     

What to do?

  • Eat foods that are easy to chew, such as scrambled eggs, pasta, soups, cooked vegetables.
  • Taste foods at different temperatures, since the flavour may change.
  • Try different forms of foods, like fresh, frozen or canned.
  • Experiment with non-spicy foods, spices and seasonings.
Talk to your health care team if it does not improve or if it is severe

Mild swelling

What to look for?

  • You may have mild swelling or puffiness in your arms and/or legs. Rarely, this may be severe.
     

What to do?

To help prevent swelling:

  • Eat a low-salt diet.

 


If you have swelling:

  • Wear loose-fitting clothing.
  • For swollen legs or feet, keep your feet up when sitting.
Talk to your health care team if it does not improve or if it is severe

Other rare, but serious side effects are possible.
If you experience ANY of the following, speak to your cancer health care provider or get emergency medical help right away:

  • Irregular heartbeat, chest pain or fainting spells.

  • Pain, swelling and hardening of the vein in the body.

  • Sudden or severe headache, trouble seeing, speaking, or using your arms and legs.
  • Signs of an allergic reaction:  Fever, itchiness, rash, swollen lips, face or tongue, chest and throat tightness.

 

Who do I contact if I have questions or need help?          

My cancer health care provider is: ______________________________________________

During the day I should contact:________________________________________________

Evenings, weekends and holidays:______________________________________________

 

Other Notes:

____________________________________________________________________________

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____________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________

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For more links on how to manage your symptoms go to www.cancercareontario.ca/symptoms.

The information set out in the medication information sheets, regimen information sheets, and symptom management information (for patients) contained in the Drug Formulary (the "Formulary") is intended to be used by health professionals and patients for informational purposes only. The information is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, drug interactions or side effects of a certain drug, nor should it be used to indicate that use of a particular drug is safe, appropriate or effective for a given condition.

A patient should always consult a healthcare provider if he/she has any questions regarding the information set out in the Formulary. The information in the Formulary is not intended to act as or replace medical advice and should not be relied upon in any such regard. All uses of the Formulary are subject to clinical judgment and actual prescribing patterns may not follow the information provided in the Formulary.