lenalidomide (Revlimid)

  • Medical Editor: Jay W. Marks, MD
    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD

    Jay W. Marks, MD, is a board-certified internist and gastroenterologist. He graduated from Yale University School of Medicine and trained in internal medicine and gastroenterology at UCLA/Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

  • Pharmacy Author: Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD
    Omudhome Ogbru, PharmD

    Dr. Ogbru received his Doctorate in Pharmacy from the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy in 1995. He completed a Pharmacy Practice Residency at the University of Arizona/University Medical Center in 1996. He was a Professor of Pharmacy Practice and a Regional Clerkship Coordinator for the University of the Pacific School of Pharmacy from 1996-99.

What is lenalidomide Revlimid, and how does it work (mechanism of action)?

Lenalidomide (Revlimid) is an oral anti-cancer medication. Lenalidomide is similar to thalidomide (Thalomid), an older cancer medicine that, although effective, was associated with serious side effects. The exact mechanism through which lenalidomide stops the growth of cancer cells is not understood. Lenalidomide stimulates or regulates the body's immune system to attack and kill cancer cells, reduces the formation of new blood vessels that supply nutrients to the cancer cells, and prevents or stops growth of the cancer. Laboratory studies have shown that lenalidomide inhibits cancer growth and causes programmed cell death in certain types of cancers, including multiple myeloma, mantle cell lymphoma, and del (5q) myelodysplastic syndromes. Lenalidomide was approved by the FDA Dec. 27, 2005.

What brand names are available for lenalidomide Revlimid?


Is lenalidomide Revlimid available as a generic drug?


Do I need a prescription for lenalidomide Revlimid?


What are the side effects of lenalidomide Revlimid?

Common side effects of lenalidomide are:

Lenalidomide may cause some other rare but serious side effects. These include:

  • increase risk of death in patients who have chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL);
  • risk of new cancers;
  • severe liver problems;
  • serious skin reactions;
  • tumor lysis syndrome, or TLS (caused by the fast breakdown of cancer cells);
  • formation of blood clots in the arteries, veins, and lungs;
  • serious birth defects or death of an unborn baby;
  • and worsening of tumors.

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