Lenalidomide (By mouth)


Lenalidomide (len-a-LID-oh-mide)

Treats anemia caused by myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS), a disease in which the bone marrow does not function normally and the body does not make enough normal blood cells. When taken together with dexamethasone, this medicine also treats multiple myeloma (plasma cell cancer) in patients who have received at least one prior therapy.

Brand Name(s)


There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used

This medicine can cause serious or life-threatening birth defects in unborn babies. Do not use this medicine if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you may become pregnant during treatment. Do not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to lenalidomide.

How to Use This Medicine


  • Your doctor will tell you how much of this medicine to use and how often. Your dose may need to be changed several times in order to find out what works best for you. Do not use more medicine or use it more often than your doctor tells you to.
  • Take this medicine the same way every day. This means take it at the same time and take it consistently, either with or without food.
  • Swallow the capsule whole. Do not crush, break, chew, or open it. Drink a glass of water (about 8 ounces) when you take this medicine.
  • Do not open the capsules or handle them any more than needed. If you accidentally open or handle the medicine in the capsule, wash your skin with soap and water right away.
  • This medicine should come with a Medication Guide. Read and follow these instructions carefully. Ask your doctor or pharmacist if you have any questions. Ask your pharmacist for the Medication Guide if you do not have one.

If a dose is missed:

  • If you missed your dose and it has been more than 12 hours, go ahead and skip your dose and wait until your next regular dose.

How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine

  • Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light.
  • Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of any outdated medicine or medicine no longer needed.
  • Keep all medicine away from children and never share your medicine with anyone.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are also using digoxin (Digitek®, Lanoxin®) or a blood thinner (such as warfarin, Coumadin®). Tell your doctor if you are also using darbepoetin alfa (Aranesp®), epoetin alfa (Procrit®, Epogen®), or any medicine containing estrogen.

Warnings While Using This Medicine

  • Use 2 forms of effective birth control during your treatment (even when treatment is briefly stopped), and for at least 4 weeks after your treatment ends. This is very important whether you are a man or a woman. The most effective forms of birth control for women include birth control pills or implants, a diaphragm or cervical cap, an IUD, and tubal ligation. If you are a man, use a latex condom every time you have intercourse with a woman who could get pregnant. Use a latex condom even if you have had a vasectomy.
  • If you are a woman who can get pregnant, your doctor will test you for pregnancy before you start lenalidomide therapy. Pregnancy tests may be done weekly for the first month, and then every month if you have regular periods or every 2 weeks if you have irregular periods.
  • Make sure your doctor knows if you have kidney disease, liver disease, or any other blood disease. Tell your doctor if you are lactose-intolerant.
  • This medicine may increase your risk for blood clots. Tell your doctor right away if you have shortness of breath, chest pain, or swelling of the arms or legs.
  • Do not donate blood or sperm while you take this medicine and for at least 4 weeks after you stop taking this medicine.
  • This medicine lowers the number of some types of blood cells in your body. Because of this, you may bleed or get infections more easily. To help with these problems, avoid being near people who are sick or have infections. Wash your hands often. Stay away from rough sports or other situations where you could be bruised, cut, or injured. Brush and floss your teeth gently. Be careful when using sharp objects, including razors and fingernail clippers.
  • Serious skin reactions can occur. Check with your doctor right away if you have blistering, peeling, or loosening of the skin, severe acne or skin rash, sores or ulcers on the skin, or fever or chills.
  • This medicine may cause a serious reaction called tumor lysis syndrome. Call your doctor right away if you have changes in how often you urinate, rapid weight gain, swelling of the feet or lower legs, uneven heartbeat, or seizures.
  • Check with your doctor right away if you have any symptoms of liver problems, such as dark-colored urine or pale stools, nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, pain in your upper stomach, or yellow skin or eyes.
  • This medicine may increase your risk of getting certain cancers (such as acute myelogenous leukemia, Hodgkin's lymphoma). Talk to your doctor if you have concerns about this risk.
  • Your doctor will need to check your blood at regular visits while you are using this medicine. Be sure to keep all appointments.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Blistering, peeling, or red skin rash
  • Chest pain, shortness of breath, or coughing up blood
  • Dark-colored urine or pale stools
  • Fever, chills, cough, sore throat, or body aches
  • Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, or pain in your upper stomach
  • Pain in your lower leg (calf)
  • Rapid weight gain, swelling in your hands, ankles, or feet
  • Seizures or tremors
  • Sudden or severe headache, problem with vision, speech, or walking
  • Unusual bleeding, bruising, or weakness
  • Yellowing of your skin or the whites of your eyes

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Joint, back, or muscle pain
  • Mild rash
  • Runny or stuffy nose

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Version Info

  • Last Reviewed on 06/12/2013

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