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Ruxolitinib (Generic Name)

UPMC Content 2

About This Drug

Ruxolitinib is used to treat myelofibrosis.  It is given by mouth.

Possible Side Effects (More Common)

  • Swelling (edema) in your arms, legs, hand, and/or feet
  • Headache
  • Bruising
  • High cholesterol level
  • Loose bowel movements (diarrhea)
  • Low red blood cell count
  • Low platelet count
  • Low white blood cell count
  • Changes in liver function test results
  • Trouble breathing, feeling short of breath
  • Throwing up (vomiting)

Possible Side Effects (Less Common)

  • Urinary tract infections
  • Return of shingles
  • Peripheral neuropathy: Effects on the nerves are called peripheral neuropathy. You may feel numbness, tingling, or pain in your hands and feet. It may be hard for you to button your clothes, open jars, or walk as usual. The effect on the nerves may get worse with more doses of the drug. These effects get better in some people after the drug is stopped but it does not get better in all people.

Treating Side Effects

  • Ask your doctor or nurse about medicine to help stop or lessen loose bowel movements, throwing up, and headache.
  • Your doctor will order blood tests to check your blood counts and liver function tests.
  • 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).
  • If you have had shingles (herpes zoster infection) before, it may come back. Symptoms of shingles: burning or shooting pain and tingling or itching, often on one side of the body or face. The pain can be mild to very bad.

Important Information

  • You can take this drug with or without food.
  • Swallow the tablets whole. Do not crush or chew.
  • Do not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice while taking this drug.
  • Missed dose: If you miss a dose, just take your next scheduled dose. Do not take an extra dose or do not take more than one dose at a time. 

Food and Drug Interactions

Do not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice while taking this drug. Grapefruit and grapefruit juice may affect levels of this drug in your body. There are a number of many medicines that interact with ruxolitinib. Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all medications and dietary supplements (vitamins, minerals, herbs, and others) that you are taking at this time. The safety of dietary supplements and alternative diets are often unknown. Using these might affect your cancer or interfere with your treatment. Until more is known, you should not use dietary supplements or alternative diets without your cancer doctor’s help.

When to Call the Doctor

Call your doctor or nurse right away if you have any of these symptoms:

  • Fever of 100.5°F (38.0°C) or above
  • Chills
  • Easy bleeding or bruising
  • Nausea or throwing up that is stopping you from eating and drinking
  • Loose bowel movements (diarrhea) more than 4 times a day or diarrhea with weakness or feeling lightheaded
  • Trouble breathing or feeling short of breath
  • Rash

Call your doctor or nurse as soon as possible if you have any of these symptoms of a urinary tract infection:

  • Pain or burning when you pass urine
  • Feeling like you have to pass urine often, but not much comes out when you do
  • Tender or heavy feeling in your lower abdomen
  • Cloudy urine and/or urine  that smells bad
  • Pain on one side of your back under your ribs. This is where your kidneys are.
  • Fever, chills, nausea and/or throwing u
  • Numbness or tingling of the fingers and/or toes
  • Puffiness or swelling around the ankles

Reproduction Concerns

  • Pregnancy warning: The drug may have harmful effects on the unborn child, so effective methods of birth control should be used by you and your partner during your treatment, and for at least 3 months after the last dose of this drug.
  • 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: It is not known if this drug passes into breast milk. For this reason, women should talk to their doctor about the risks and benefits of breast feeding during treatment with this drug because this drug may enter the breast milk and badly harm a breast feeding baby.

Revised September 2014