Drug name: Venetoclax

Other Names: Venclexta®

About This Drug​

Venetoclax is used to treat cancer. It is given orally.

Possible Side Effects (More Common)

  • Bone marrow depression. This is a decrease in the number of white blood cells, red blood cells, and platelets. This may raise your risk of infection, make you tired and weak (fatigue), and raise your risk of bleeding.
  • Loose bowel movements (diarrhea) that may last for a few days
  • Electrolyte changes. Your blood will be checked for electrolyte changes as needed.
  • Tiredness
  • Tumor lysis: This drug may act on the cancer cells very quickly. This may affect how your kidneys work. Your doctor will monitor your kidney function.

Possible Side Effects (Less Common)

  • Constipation (not able to move bowels)
  • Nausea and throwing up (vomiting). These symptoms may happen within a few hours after your treatment and may last up to 24 hours. Medicines are available to stop or lessen these side effects.
  • Swelling of your legs, ankles and/or feet
  • Headache

Treating Side Effects

  • Ask your doctor or nurse about medicines that are available to help stop or lessen constipation.
  • If you are not able to move your bowels, check with your doctor or nurse before you use enemas, laxatives, or suppositories
  • Drink 6-8 cups of fluids each day unless your doctor has told you to limit your fluid intake due to some other health problem. A cup is 8 ounces of fluid. If you throw up or have loose bowel movements, you should drink more fluids so that you do not become dehydrated (lack water in the body from losing too much fluid).
  • Ask your doctor or nurse about medicine that is available to help stop or lessen the loose bowel movements.

Important Information

  • Swallow the medicine whole. Do not chew, break or crush it.
  • Take this medicine at the same time each day.
  • Take with a meal.
  • Store this medicine in the original container at room temperature. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you think about it if it is missed by less than 8 hours. If it is more than 8 hours, wait and take your next dose at the usual time. Do not take 2 doses at the same time or extra doses.

Food and Drug Interactions

  • Do not eat Seville oranges, starfruit, grapefruit or grapefruit juice while taking this medicine. Seville oranges, starfruit, grapefruit or grapefruit juice may raise the levels of venetoclax in your body. This could make side effects worse.
  • Check with your doctor or pharmacist about all other prescription medicines and dietary supplements you are taking before starting this medicine as there are a lot of known drug interactions with venetoclax. Also, check with your doctor or pharmacist before starting any new prescription or over-the-counter medicines, or dietary supplement to make sure that there are no interactions.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor or nurse immediately if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Fever of 100.5 F (38 C) or higher
  • Chills
  • Seizures
  • Easy bleeding or bruising
  • Wheezing or trouble breathing
  • Rash or itching
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Feeling that your heart is beating in a fast or not normal way (palpitations)
  • Loose bowel movements (diarrhea) more than 4 times a day or diarrhea with weakness or lightheadedness
  • Blurred vision or other changes in eyesight
  • Pain when passing urine; blood in urine
  • Pain in your lower back or side
  • Confusion or agitation
  • Nausea that stops you from eating or drinking
  • Throwing up more than 3 times a day
  • Chest pain or symptoms of a heart attack. Most heart attacks involve pain in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes. The pain may go away and come back. It can feel like pressure, squeezing, fullness, or pain. Sometimes pain is felt in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach. If any of these symptoms last 2 minutes, call 911.
  • Symptoms of a stroke such as sudden numbness or weakness of your face, arm, or leg, mostly on one side of your body; sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding; sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes; sudden trouble walking, feeling dizzy, loss of balance or coordination; or sudden, bad headache with no known cause. If you have any of these symptoms for 2 minutes, call 911.
  • Signs of liver problems: dark urine, pale bowel movements, bad stomach pain, feeling very tired and weak, unusual itching, or yellowing of the eyes or skin

Call your doctor or nurse as soon as possible if any of the following symptoms occur:

  • Change in hearing, ringing in the ears
  • Blurred vision or other changes in eyesight
  • Decreased urine
  • Unusual thirst or passing urine often
  • Pain in your mouth or throat that makes it hard to eat or drink
  • Nausea that is not relieved by prescribed medicines
  • Rash that is not relieved by prescribed medicines
  • Heavy menstrual period that lasts longer than normal
  • Numbness, tingling, decreased feeling or weakness in fingers, toes, arms, or legs
  • Trouble walking or changes in the way you walk, feeling clumsy when buttoning clothes, opening jars, or other routine hand motions
  • Swelling of legs, ankles, or feet
  • Weight gain of 5 pounds in one week (fluid retention)
  • Lasting loss of appetite or rapid weight loss of five pounds in a week
  • Fatigue that interferes with your daily activities
  • Headache that does not go away
  • Painful, red, or swollen areas on your hands or feet.
  • No bowel movement for 3 days or you feel uncomfortable
  • Extreme weakness that interferes with normal activities
  • No bowel movement in 3 days or when you feel uncomfortable.
  • Loose bowel movements (diarrhea) 4 times or loose bowel movements with lack of strength or a feeling of being dizzy

Reproduction Concerns

  • Infertility warning: In men, this drug may interfere with your ability to make sperm, but it should not change your ability to have sexual relations.
  • Pregnancy warning: This drug may have harmful effects on the unborn baby. It is recommended that effective methods of birth control should be used by women of child-bearing potential during your cancer treatment and for at least 30 days after treatment.
  • Genetic counseling is available for you to talk about the effects of this drug therapy on future pregnancies. Also, a genetic counselor can look at the possible risk of problems in the unborn baby due to this medicine if an exposure happens during pregnancy.
  • Breast feeding warning: Women should not breast feed during treatment because this drug could enter the breast milk and cause harm to a breast feeding baby.

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