Clinical Pharmacokinetics

, Volume 44, Issue 9, pp 879–894 | Cite as

Clinical Pharmacokinetics of Imatinib

  • Bin Peng
  • Peter Lloyd
  • Horst Schran
Review Article


Imatinib is a potent and selective inhibitor of the protein tyrosine kinase Bcr-Abl, platelet-derived growth factor receptors (PDGFRα and PDGFRβ) and KIT. Imatinib is approved for the treatment of chronic myeloid leukaemia (CML) and gastrointestinal stromal tumour (GIST), which have dysregulated activity of an imatinib-sensitive kinase as the underlying pathogenetic feature.

Pharmacokinetic studies of imatinib in healthy volunteers and patients with CML, GIST and other cancers show that orally administered imatinib is well absorbed, and has an absolute bioavailability of 98% irrespective of oral dosage form (solution, capsule, tablet) or dosage strength (100mg, 400mg). Food has no relevant impact on the rate or extent of bioavailability. The terminal elimination half-life is approximately 18 hours. Imatinib plasma concentrations predictably increase by 2- to 3-fold when reaching steady state with 400mg once-daily administration, to 2.6 ± 0.8 μg/mL at peak and 1.2 ± 0.8 μg/mL at trough, exceeding the 0.5 μg/mL (1 μmol/L) concentrations needed for tyrosine kinase inhibition in vitro and leading to normalisation of haematological parameters in the large majority of patients with CML irrespective of baseline white blood cell count.

Imatinib is approximately 95% bound to human plasma proteins, mainly albumin and α1-acid glycoprotein. The drug is eliminated predominantly via the bile in the form of metabolites, one of which (CGP 74588) shows comparable pharmacological activity to the parent drug. The faecal to urinary excretion ratio is approximately 5:1.

Imatinib is metabolised mainly by the cytochrome P450 (CYP) 3A4 or CYP3A5 and can competitively inhibit the metabolism of drugs that are CYP3A4 or CYP3A5 substrates. Interactions may occur between imatinib and inhibitors or inducers of these enzymes, leading to changes in the plasma concentration of imatinib as well as coadministered drugs.

Hepatic and renal dysfunction, and the presence of liver metastases, may result in more variable and increased exposure to the drug, although typically not necessitating dosage adjustment. Age (range 18–70 years), race, sex and bodyweight do not appreciably impact the pharmacokinetics of imatinib.


Imatinib Simvastatin Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia Chronic Myeloid Leukaemia Patient 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



All authors are employees of Novartis Pharmaceuticals, which markets imatinib mesylate as Gleevec®/Glivec®. The authors wish to acknowledge the support of the Novartis International Gleevec®/Glivec® Project Team in preparing this review. No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this review.


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Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Novartis PharmaceuticalsFlorham ParkUSA
  2. 2.Novartis Horsham Research CentreHorshamUK

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