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Administration: oral

How it Works

Venetoclax (also known as Venclexta) is a medication that is used to treat certain types of blood cancers, including chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML). In myeloma, there are promising results in patient subsets with t (11;14), who have overexpression of BCL-2, which allows targeting their myeloma cells.

Venetoclax works by inhibiting the activity of a protein called B-cell lymphoma-2 (BCL-2), which is overexpressed in certain types of cancer cells and helps them survive and evade chemotherapy. By blocking the activity of BCL-2, venetoclax helps to kill cancer cells and halt their growth and multiplication.

How it’s Administered

Venetoclax is an oral tablet given by mouth. Do not crush, chew, or break a venetoclax tablet. Swallow it whole. Take venetoclax with food and water at the same time each day.

If you vomit shortly after taking venetoclax, do not take another tablet. Take your next dose as scheduled the next day.

To prevent certain side effects, drink 6 to 8 glasses of water daily for two days before you start taking venetoclax. Also, drink 6 to 8 glasses of water on the day you first take venetoclax and whenever your dose is changed.

You may need frequent medical tests, and your cancer treatments may be delayed based on the results.

Do not stop using venetoclax without first asking your doctor.

Store tablets in their original container at room temperature, away from moisture and heat. Do not put venetoclax tablets into a daily pillbox.

Who Should Take Venetoclax

Venetoclax is an oral BCL2 inhibitor drug currently FDA approved to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), small lymphocytic leukemia (SLL), and acute myeloid leukemia. Additionally, venetoclax is being studied to treat relapsed and refractory multiple myeloma and has shown promising results in patients positive for the t(11;14) translocation in phase 1/2 clinical studies.

Who Shouldn’t Take Venetoclax

  • Patients that are pregnant or plan to become pregnant as venetloclax may harm your unborn baby
  • Patients with severe allergic reactions to venetoclax or any of its components
  • It is not recommended to breastfeed while taking venetoclax, as it may be present in human milk and could cause serious side effects in a nursing infant

The most common side effects of taking Venetoclax include: 

  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Low blood pressure
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Swelling in your arms, legs, hands, and feet
  • Fever
  • Low red blood cell count (anemia)
  • Low white blood cell counts (leukopenia or neutropenia)
  • Pneumonia
  • Mouth pain
  • Rash
  • Cold symptoms such as stuffy nose, sneezing, sore throat, cough.

Commonly Being Used in AML With

  • Venetoclax is typically used in combination with azacitidine, decitabine or low-dose cytarabine as a treatment for patients who are not eligible for intensive chemotherapy, are 75 years or older, have relapsed, or have not responded to the previous therapy. 


Currently Being Studied in Myeloma With Venetoclax

  • Steroids: Dexamethasone
  • Immunomodulators agents: Lenalidomide, Pomalidomide
  • Proteasome inhibitors: Bortezomib, Carfilzomib, Ixazomib
  • Monoclonal antibodies: Daratumumab, Atezolizumab

Learn more about your treatments in Cure Hub

For more information click here

Date last updated: 12/22/22

Information provided by and
What is the difference between classical chemotherapy and novel targeted therapy?
What is a BCL-2 inhibitor and when is it used in AML?

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