How does this medication work? What will it do for me?

Trametinib belongs to the group of cancer-fighting medications known as antineoplastics, and specifically to the family of medications called protein kinase inhibitors. It is used to treat a specific type of melanoma (skin cancer) that cannot be surgically removed or has metastasized (spread to other parts of the body).

Trametinib is not appropriate for all types of melanoma. It will only interfere with the growth of skin cancer cells that have a particular genetic mutation, called BRAF. Your doctor will check for this mutation before trametinib is prescribed.

This medication may be available under multiple brand names and/or in several different forms. Any specific brand name of this medication may not be available in all of the forms or approved for all of the conditions discussed here. As well, some forms of this medication may not be used for all of the conditions discussed here.

Your doctor may have suggested this medication for conditions other than those listed in these drug information articles. If you have not discussed this with your doctor or are not sure why you are taking this medication, speak to your doctor. Do not stop taking this medication without consulting your doctor.

Do not give this medication to anyone else, even if they have the same symptoms as you do. It can be harmful for people to take this medication if their doctor has not prescribed it.

What form(s) does this medication come in?

0.5 mg

Each yellow, modified oval, biconvex, film-coated tablet with "GS" debossed on one face and "TFC" on the opposing face contains 0.5 mg of trametinib. Nonmedicinal ingredients: croscarmellose sodium, hypromellose, magnesium stearate, mannitol, microcrystalline cellulose, silicon dioxide (colloidal), and sodium lauryl sulphate. The tablet coating contains: hypromellose polyethylene glycol, iron oxide yellow and titanium dioxide.

2 mg
Each pink, round, biconvex, film-coated tablet with "GS" debossed on one face and "HMJ" on the opposing face contain 2 mg of trametinib. Nonmedicinal ingredients: croscarmellose sodium, hypromellose, magnesium stearate, mannitol, microcrystalline cellulose, silicon dioxide (colloidal), and sodium lauryl sulphate. The tablet coating contains: hypromellose polyethylene glycol, iron oxide red, polysorbate 80, and titanium dioxide.

How should I use this medication?

The recommended adult dose of trametinib is 2 mg taken once a day. This medication should be taken at the same time every day and should be swallowed with a full glass of water.

Food can affect the way trametinib is absorbed into the body and should therefore be taken on an empty stomach one hour before or two hours after eating.

Many things can affect the dose of medication that a person needs, such as body weight, other medical conditions, and other medications. If your doctor has recommended a dose different from the ones listed here, do not change the way that you are taking the medication without consulting your doctor.

It is important to take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. If you miss a dose, take it as soon as possible and continue with your regular schedule. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and continue with your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one. If you are not sure what to do after missing a dose, contact your doctor or pharmacist for advice.

Store this medication in its original bottle with the dessicant in the refrigerator. Protect it from light and moisture, and keep it out of the reach of children.

Do not dispose of medications in wastewater (e.g. down the sink or in the toilet) or in household garbage. Ask your pharmacist how to dispose of medications that are no longer needed or have expired.

Who should NOT take this medication?

Do not take this medication if you are allergic to trametinib or any ingredients of the medication.

What side effects are possible with this medication?

Many medications can cause side effects. A side effect is an unwanted response to a medication when it is taken in normal doses. Side effects can be mild or severe, temporary or permanent.

The side effects listed below are not experienced by everyone who takes this medication. If you are concerned about side effects, discuss the risks and benefits of this medication with your doctor.

The following side effects have been reported by at least 1% of people taking this medication. Many of these side effects can be managed, and some may go away on their own over time.

Contact your doctor if you experience these side effects and they are severe or bothersome. Your pharmacist may be able to advise you on managing side effects.

  • constipation
  • diarrhea
  • dry mouth
  • hair loss or thinning
  • headache
  • lack of energy
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • stomach ache
  • weakness/tiredness

Although most of the side effects listed below don't happen very often, they could lead to serious problems if you do not check with your doctor or seek medical attention.

Check with your doctor as soon as possible if any of the following side effects occur:

  • acne-like rash
  • changes to finger and toenails (e.g., pain, infection, swelling)
  • dry or itching skin
  • facial swelling
  • mouth sores
  • redness of the face
  • signs of anemia (low red blood cells; e.g., dizziness, pale skin, unusual tiredness or weakness, shortness of breath)
  • signs of bleeding (e.g., bloody nose, blood in urine, coughing blood, bleeding gums, cuts that don't stop bleeding)
  • signs of heart failure (e.g., fast, irregular heartbeat or pulse, dizziness, difficulty breathing, swollen legs, feet)
  • signs of infection (symptoms may include fever or chills, severe diarrhea, shortness of breath, prolonged dizziness, headache, stiff neck, weight loss, or listlessness)
  • skin infections
  • skin rash
  • vision changes (coloured dots, halos around objects, blurred vision)

Stop taking the medication and seek immediate medical attention if any of the following occur:

  • signs of inflammation of the lungs (e.g., shortness of breath and cough)
  • signs of a serious allergic reaction (e.g., abdominal cramps, difficulty breathing, nausea and vomiting, or swelling of the face and throat)

Some people may experience side effects other than those listed. Check with your doctor if you notice any symptom that worries you while you are taking this medication.

Are there any other precautions or warnings for this medication?

Before you begin using a medication, be sure to inform your doctor of any medical conditions or allergies you may have, any medications you are taking, whether you are pregnant or breast-feeding, and any other significant facts about your health. These factors may affect how you should use this medication.

Heart problems: Trametinib may cause the heart to become less effective in pumping blood out into the body. If you have a history of heart disease or are at risk of developing heart disease, discuss with your doctor how this medication may affect your medical condition, how your medical condition may affect the dosing and effectiveness of this medication, and whether any special monitoring is needed.

If you experience signs of decreased heart function, like a change in heartbeat or pulse, chest pain, difficulty breathing, unusual tiredness or swelling in the legs, feet or hands, contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Lungs: This medication is known to serious lung and breathing problems. The damage to the lungs as a result, can be fatal. If you experience any new or worsening cough or shortness of breath while using this medication, contact your doctor immediately. Your doctor may order a chest X-ray before you start using this medication to use as a baseline should you develop breathing problems.

Skin problems: This medication can cause additional skin problems such as rash, skin ulcers which may become infected and other skin redness and irritation. These reactions can lead to serious problems. Let your doctor know as soon as possible if you develop any skin reactions while you are taking trametinib.

Vision changes: This medication may cause changes to the sharpness of your vision and possibly cause vision loss. Vision loss can occur slowly or suddenly. People with high blood pressure, diabetes, high blood cholesterol and glaucoma are a higher risk of vision loss. Your doctor may order an eye exam before you start taking tremetanib. If you notice any change in your vision such as colour dots, a blurred outline around objects (halo) or blurred vision while you are taking trametinib, contact your doctor immediately.

Pregnancy: This medication may cause harm to an unborn fetus and should not be used during pregnancy. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately. Women of childbearing age who are taking trametinib should use an effective method of birth control such as condoms during treatment and for 4 weeks after stopping the medication.

Breast-feeding: It is not known if trametinib passes into breast milk. If you are a breast-feeding mother and are taking this medication, it may affect your baby. Talk to your doctor about whether you should continue breast-feeding.

Children: The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been established for children.

What other drugs could interact with this medication?

There may be an interaction between trametinib and any of the following:

  • amiodarone
  • aripiprazole
  • axitinib
  • beta-adrenergic blockers (e.g., atenolol, propranolol, sotalol)
  • HIV protease inhibitors (e.g., atazanavir, indinavir, ritonavir, saquinavir)
  • procainamide
  • quinidine
  • saxagliptin

If you are taking any of these medications, speak with your doctor or pharmacist. Depending on your specific circumstances, your doctor may want you to:

  • stop taking one of the medications,
  • change one of the medications to another,
  • change how you are taking one or both of the medications, or
  • leave everything as is.

An interaction between two medications does not always mean that you must stop taking one of them. Speak to your doctor about how any drug interactions are being managed or should be managed.

Medications other than those listed above may interact with this medication. Tell your doctor or prescriber about all prescription, over-the-counter (non-prescription), and herbal medications you are taking. Also tell them about any supplements you take. Since caffeine, alcohol, the nicotine from cigarettes, or street drugs can affect the action of many medications, you should let your prescriber know if you use them.