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

Everolimus belongs to the class of medications called antineoplastics. It is used to treat certain forms of advanced cancers. It may be used in combination with other medications to treat certain types of advanced breast cancer. It may be used alone to treat pancreatic neuroendocrine tumours or PNET (tumours in the pancreas that produce chemical messengers) that have metastasized (spread) or progressed within the past year. Everolimus is also used to treat renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer) that has spread, after other medications have been tried.

Everolimus has been granted a notice of compliance with conditions (NOC/c) by Health Canada. This means that Health Canada has approved this medication to be marketed based on promising evidence of effectiveness, but additional study results are needed to verify its effectiveness. An NOC/c is used to allow access to products that are used to treat or prevent serious, life-threatening, or severely debilitating illness.

Everolimus has conditional approval from Health Canada to be used for people with a condition called tuberous sclerosis complex. This approval is conditional, as research shows it may help reduce the growth of giant cell astrocytomas (SEGA, a type of brain tumour) in children over 3 years of age and angiomyolipomas (a type of non-cancerous kidney tumour) in adults over 18 years of age, however additional clinical trials still need to be completed.

Everolimus works by slowing the growth and spread of breast cancer cells, kidney cancer cells and pancreatic cells that produce hormones by blocking key enzymes. It may also reduce the size of brain and kidney tumours that occur with the genetic condition tuberous sclerosis complex.

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?

2.5 mg
Each elongated, white-to-slightly yellow tablet with a bevelled edge and no score, engraved with "LCL" on one side and "NVR" on the other, contains 2.5 mg everolimus. Nonmedicinal ingredients: butylated hydroxytoluene, magnesium stearate, lactose monohydrate, hypromellose, crospovidone, and lactose anhydrous.

5 mg
Each elongated, white-to-slightly yellow tablet with a bevelled edge and no score, engraved with "5" on one side and "NVR" on the other, contains 5 mg everolimus. Nonmedicinal ingredients: butylated hydroxytoluene, magnesium stearate, lactose monohydrate, hypromellose, crospovidone, and lactose anhydrous.

10 mg
Each elongated, white-to-slightly yellow tablet with a bevelled edge and no score, engraved with "UHE" on one side and "NVR" on the other, contains 10 mg everolimus. Nonmedicinal ingredients: butylated hydroxytoluene, magnesium stearate, lactose monohydrate, hypromellose, crospovidone, and lactose anhydrous.

How should I use this medication?

The usual adult starting dose of everolimus is 10 mg taken once daily.

The usual starting dose of everolimus for people being treated for SEGA associated with tuberous sclerosis complex (TSC) is based on body size. Your doctor will determine the dose based on body surface area (BSA), a calculation that takes into account the weight and height of the person taking the medication.

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.

Everolimus should be taken at approximately the same time every day, preferably in the morning. It may be taken on an empty stomach or with a small, fat-free meal. Regardless of whether it is taken with food or not, everolimus should be taken the same way, every day to make sure the amount of medication absorbed by the body is consistent.

The tablets should be swallowed whole, with a glass of water. These tablets should not be crushed or chewed.

Avoid drinking grapefruit juice or eating grapefruit, star fruit, or Seville oranges. These foods can slow down how the body gets rid of the medication and may result in too much medication in the body.

It is important that this medication be taken 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 more than 6 hours after the time you normally take the medication, 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 at room temperature, 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 everolimus if you:

  • are allergic to everolimus or any ingredients of the medication
  • are allergic to sirolimus or temsirolimus

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.

  • agitation
  • acne
  • changes to menstrual cycles
  • changes in sense of taste
  • constipation
  • cough
  • dehydration
  • diarrhea
  • difficulty sleeping
  • difficulty swallowing
  • dizziness
  • dry mouth
  • headache
  • loss of appetite
  • skin problems (e.g., rash, acne, dry skin, itchiness)
  • nausea
  • nail changes
  • unusual weakness or tiredness
  • vomiting

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:

  • breathing problems (e.g., shortness of breath, trouble breathing, wheezing, or tightness in chest, fast or irregular breathing)
  • fever
  • flu-like symptoms (sudden lack of energy, fever, cough, sore throat)
  • high blood pressure
  • increased cholesterol or triglycerides in the blood
  • mood changes
  • mouth sores
  • signs of anemia (low red blood cells; e.g., dizziness, pale skin, unusual tiredness or weakness, shortness of breath)
  • signs of a blood clot in blood vessels, such as sudden vision change or dizziness, chest pain, pain and swelling in one leg muscle
  • signs of infection (symptoms may include fever or chills, severe diarrhea, shortness of breath, prolonged dizziness, headache, stiff neck, weight loss, or listlessness)
  • signs of kidney failure (e.g., decreased urine production, swelling, fatigue, abdominal pain)
  • signs of liver problems (e.g., nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite, weight loss, yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes, dark urine, pale stools)
  • trouble walking
  • symptoms of high blood sugar (e.g., frequent urination, increased thirst, excessive eating, unexplained weight loss, poor wound healing, infections, fruity breath odour)
  • unexplained muscle pain or weakness

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

  • seizures
  • coughing up blood
  • signs of bleeding in the stomach (e.g., bloody, black, or tarry stools; spitting up of blood; vomiting blood or material that looks like coffee grounds)
  • signs of a serious allergic reaction (e.g., abdominal cramps, difficulty breathing, nausea and vomiting, or swelling of the face and throat)
  • signs of stroke (e.g., sudden or severe headache; sudden loss of coordination; vision changes; sudden slurring of speech; or unexplained weakness, numbness, or pain in arm or leg)
  • sudden shortness of breath
  • unexpected vaginal bleeding
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.

Anemia: Everolimus may cause low levels of red blood cells. If you experience symptoms of reduced red blood cell count (anemia) such as shortness of breath, feeling unusually tired, or pale skin, contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Your doctor will do blood tests regularly to monitor the number of specific types of blood cells, including red blood cells, in your blood.

Bleeding: Everolimus may cause a reduced number of platelets in the blood, which can make it difficult to stop cuts from bleeding. If you have a medical condition or are taking medication that affects blood clotting, 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 notice any signs of bleeding, such as frequent nosebleeds, unexplained bruising, vomiting coffee-ground like substances, or black and tarry stools, notify your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will order routine blood tests to make sure potential problems are caught early.

Clotting: This medication has been linked to clots in the leg and lungs. If you develop sudden pain with redness and swelling in one of your legs (usually in the calf), sudden difficulty breathing, or coughing up blood, contact your doctor immediately.

Breathing problems: This medication has been linked to inflammation and damage to the lungs. If you develop shortness of breath or a persistent cough, contact your doctor.

Cholesterol and triglycerides: This medication may cause an increase in the amount of cholesterol or triglycerides in the blood. If you have high cholesterol or are at risk for 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.

Diabetes: Everolimus may cause an increase in blood sugar levels and glucose tolerance may change. People with diabetes may find it necessary to monitor their blood sugar more frequently while using this medication.

If you have diabetes or are at risk for developing diabetes, 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 high blood sugar, such as increased thirst and urination, excessive hunger, unexplained weight loss or a fruity odour to your breath, contact your doctor as soon as possible.

Fertility: Everolimus can cause changes to sperm in men and may cause ovulation and menstrual bleeding to stop during treatment in women. These changes may continue after stopping the medication.

Fluid and electrolyte balance: This medication may cause the levels of electrolytes such as potassium, sodium, magnesium, chloride, and calcium in the blood to change while taking this medication. If you experience symptoms of fluid and electrolyte imbalance such as muscle pains or cramps; dry mouth; numb hands, feet, or lips; or racing heartbeat, contact your doctor as soon as possible. Your doctor will do blood tests regularly to monitor the levels of these electrolytes in your blood while you are taking this medication.

Grapefruit juice: Drinking grapefruit juice, or eating grapefruit, star fruit, or Seville oranges while you are taking everolimus can affect how the medication is removed from the body and may cause too much of the medication to build up in the body. This can cause possibly harmful side effects. You should avoid these foods while taking this medication.

Hepatitis B: There have been reports of flare-ups of hepatitis B occurring when people take everolimus. If you have a history of hepatitis B, 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.

Infection: As well as killing tumour cells, everolimus can reduce the number of cells that fight infection in the body (white blood cells). If possible, avoid contact with people with contagious infections and public areas with lots of people. Tell your doctor immediately if you notice signs of an infection, such as fever or chills, severe diarrhea, shortness of breath, prolonged dizziness, headache, stiff neck, weight loss, or listlessness. Your doctor will do blood tests regularly to monitor the number of specific types of blood cells in your blood.

Kidney function: This medication can cause harm to the kidneys. While you are taking everolimus, your doctor should test your kidney function regularly with blood tests.

Liver function: Liver disease or reduced liver function may cause this medication to build up in the body, causing side effects. If you have liver problems, 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. Your doctor may want to test your liver function regularly with blood tests while you are taking this medication.

If you experience symptoms of liver problems such as fatigue, feeling unwell, loss of appetite, nausea, yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes, dark urine, pale stools, abdominal pain or swelling, and itchy skin, contact your doctor immediately.

Mouth ulcers: This medication commonly causes inflammation of the mucous membrane in your mouth resulting in mouth ulcers. Avoid using any alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, iodine, or thyme-containing mouthwashes as they can worsen the ulcers. Discuss proper treatment for mouth ulcers with your doctor.

Surgery: This medication causes changes to the blood and wound healing. Make sure anyone involved in your medical care knows you are taking everolimus.

Pregnancy: Everolimus may cause harm to an unborn baby. Women who may become pregnant while taking this medication must use an effective form of birth control, even if they have not had their first menstrual period. Effective birth control must be used during treatment with everolimus, and for at least eight weeks following the discontinuation of treatment. If you become pregnant while taking this medication, contact your doctor immediately.

Breast-feeding: It is not known if everolimus 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: Everolimus is not recommended for children with cancer who are less than 18 years of age. The safety and effectiveness of using this medication have not been studied for children with SEGA who are less than 1 year of age and there is limited information about the use of everolimus for children less than 3 years of age.

Seniors: People over 65 years of age are more likely to experience side effects while taking this medication. Your doctor may adjust your dose based on side effects and how well the medication is tolerated.

What other drugs could interact with this medication?

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

  • aminoglutethimide
  • amiodarone
  • aprepitant
  • angiotensin-converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEIs; e.g., captopril, lisinopril, ramipril)
  • atorvastatin
  • "azole" antifungals (e.g., itraconazole, ketoconazole, voriconazole)
  • bicalutamide
  • boceprevir
  • bosentan
  • calcium channel blockers (e.g., diltiazem, nicardipine, verapamil)
  • carbamazepine
  • carvedilol
  • chloramphenicol
  • cimetidine
  • clarithromycin
  • clotrimazole
  • clozapine
  • conivaptan
  • cyclosporine
  • dabrafenib
  • dasatinib
  • deferasirox
  • delavirdine
  • desipramine
  • dexamethasone
  • dipyridamole
  • doxorubicin
  • dronedarone
  • echinacea
  • erythromycin
  • fosphenytoin
  • grapefruit juice
  • haloperidol
  • HIV non-nucleoside reverse transcriptase inhibitors (NNRTIs; e.g., delaviridine, efavirenz, etravirine, nevirapine)
  • HIV protease inhibitors (atazanavir, darunavir, lopinavir, ritonavir)
  • imatinib
  • leflunomide
  • macrolide antibiotics (e.g., azithromycin, clarithromycin, erythromycin)
  • mefloquine
  • metronidazole
  • nafcillin
  • natalizumab
  • nefazodone
  • nelfinavir
  • nevirapine
  • norfloxacin
  • oxcarbazepine
  • pentobarbital
  • phenobarbital
  • phenytoin
  • pimecrolimus
  • prazosin
  • primidone
  • quinidine
  • quinine
  • rifabutin
  • rifampin
  • roflumilast
  • St. John's wort
  • sertraline
  • simeprevir
  • sunitinib
  • tacrolimus
  • tamoxifen
  • telaprevir
  • tenofovir
  • tetracycline
  • tocilizumab
  • tofacitinib
  • trazodone
  • ulipristal
  • vaccines
  • vinblastine

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.