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Common and Rare Side Effects & Warnings of Nilotinib

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Select Justice
November 30, 2021

Nilotinib (often sold under the brand name Tasigna) is a drug commonly used to treat leukemia. Many people who have used nilotinib have suffered from side effects related to the drug, and are frustrated because they feel that the manufacturer of Tasigna failed to properly warn them about both common and rare side effects associated with nilotinib use. 

Some side effects are fairly benign — such as a higher likelihood of catching the common cold — while others are far more serious, and can lead to death.

Common Side Effects of Nilotinib

There are many common side effects of nilotinib, ranging from mild to severe. Some of the more severe common side effects of nilotinib are described below. 

Pancytopenia

Pancytopenia is a condition characterized by low numbers of both white and red blood cells. This condition is related to bone marrow problems. Usually, stem cells in the bone marrow contribute to the formation of blood. Nilotinib can cause problems with bone marrow stem cells that stops them from properly forming blood. 

Low Neutrophil Levels

Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell that play an important role in helping the body fight infection. These cells work to keep the body safe in many ways, helping to fight bacteria and fungi. Neutrophils also work to heal wounds. Commonly, people who take nilotinib experience a low neutrophil count, which can leave them more susceptible to infection. 

Nilotinib Side Effects Blood Pressure
Nilotinib Side Effects - Blood Pressure

Hypertension

Hypertension is the clinical term for high blood pressure. Over time, high blood pressure can damage veins and arteries. Many people who have high blood pressure do not show symptoms, and the condition can go untreated while causing severe damage to the body. Without proper treatment, high blood pressure can lead to stroke and heart attack. Many people who take nilotinib have experienced high blood pressure and other cardiac issues. 

High Blood Sugar

Sustained high blood sugar over time carries health risks. While some sugar in the blood is important for the body to function properly, too much sugar in the blood can cause many issues in the body, including problems with the pancreas and atherosclerosis, a potentially fatal cardiac issue. High blood sugar over time can also lead to the development of diabetes which carries many health risks, including nerve damage and slow healing of wounds that can eventually lead to partial or full limb amputation in serious cases. 

Heart Throbbing/Pounding

Many people who have taken nilotinib have experienced heart throbbing or pounding, which can be scary. While a feeling of the heart throbbing or pounding may not be a sign of a serious health condition, it can indicate issues including hypertension, atherosclerosis, heart attack, heart failure, and more. It’s important that people who experience cardiac symptoms after taking nilotinib reach out to their physician right away to discuss whether it’s safe to continue taking the drug.

Abnormal Electrical Signals in the Heart

Many cardiac issues can cause abnormal electrical activity, including hardening of the arteries, scarring from previous health issues, and QTc prolongation, a heart issue related to the use of nilotinib that can result in sudden death. If you experience an abnormal heartbeat after taking nilotinib, it’s important to reach out to your doctor to get tested with an echocardiogram, a test that can tell your doctor more about the health of your heart. 

Rare Side Effects of Nilotinib

Many of the rare side effects associated with nilotinib are serious. Some of the serious side effects listed here — such as cardiac symptoms — are related to rapid-onset atherosclerosis, a condition that can quickly turn deadly. 

Sepsis

Sepsis is an extremely serious reaction to infection that sets off a cascade of responses throughout the body. When sepsis occurs, inflammation sets in throughout the body. Multiple organ systems can fail. About 40% of people who develop sepsis die from the condition. It’s important that people who suspect they may be experiencing sepsis get medical attention immediately. 

Hydrocephalus

This condition is characterized by a buildup of fluid in the cavities of the brain. Hydrocephalus puts pressure on the brain and can lead to brain damage. In adults, signs of hydrocephalus include vision problems, progressive memory loss, a loss of bladder control, and poor coordination. Intellectual, developmental, and physical disabilities can develop if fluid buildup goes untreated. This condition can also lead to death.

Cerebral Ischemia

Cerebral ischemia occurs when the brain doesn’t get enough blood. Symptoms of cerebral ischemia include vision impairment, movement issues, loss of consciousness, and weakness. Serious conditions associated with cerebral ischemia include stroke and brain damage. While many issues can cause cerebral ischemia, the condition is often caused by a blood clot or a heart attack. 

Hardening Of The Arteries, Heart Attack, and Heart Failure

Nilotinib Side Effects Heart Attack
Nilotinib Side Effects - Heart Attack

The use of nilotinib is associated with many cardiac issues, including a buildup of plaque in the arteries that can lead to a heart attack or heart failure. Heart attacks and heart failure are not always fatal, but these conditions can lead to death. Hardening of the arteries, heart attacks, and heart failure are all associated with rapid-onset atherosclerosis, a problem associated with nilotinib use. 

Nilotinib and Rapid-Onset Atherosclerosis

Atherosclerosis is a condition in which the arteries that take blood to and from the heart become affected by plaque build-up. Usually, this plaque builds up over time. In people with rapid-onset atherosclerosis, plaque build-up happens far more rapidly than normal. In many people who take nilotinib, atherosclerosis is accelerated and can lead to death.

Have You Suffered From the Side Effects of Nilotinib?

It can be scary to imagine that a company could distribute a medication without informing patients of known potential side effects. Many people are frustrated and angry that they were not properly warned of potential side effects before beginning to take nilotinib. If you or a loved one have taken nilotinib and suffered from side effects, you may want to think about joining the current lawsuits against Novartis, the company that manufactures Tasigna. We’re here to help you fight for the compensation that you deserve. Reach out to us today for a free case evaluation.

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