April 30, 2017
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Targretin Patient Information Including Side Effects

Brand Names: Targretin

Generic Name: bexarotene (Pronunciation: beks AIR oh teen)

What is bexarotene (Targretin)?

The exact way bexarotene works is unknown, but it is believed to inhibit the growth of tumor cells.

Bexarotene is used to treat skin lesions of cutaneous T-cell lymphoma (CTCL) in patients who have not responded to or not tolerated other therapies.

Bexarotene may also be used for purposes other than those listed in this medication guide.

What are the possible side effects of bexarotene (Targretin)?

If you experience any of the following serious side effects, stop taking bexarotene and seek emergency medical attention:

  • an allergic reaction (difficulty breathing; closing of your throat; swelling of your lips, tongue, or face; or hives); or
  • symptoms of pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas) such as persistent nausea, vomiting, and abdominal or back pain.

Other, less serious side effects may be more likely to occur. Continue to take bexarotene and talk to your doctor if you experience:

  • an increase in fats in the blood (blood lipids) such as cholesterol or triglycerides (blood tests will detect this);
  • a underactive thyroid (blood tests will detect this);
  • blood problems;
  • headache;
  • fatigue;
  • weakness or loss of strength;
  • swelling;
  • rash;
  • dry skin;
  • infections;
  • nausea; or
  • diarrhea.

Side effects other than those listed here may also occur. Talk to your doctor about any side effect that seems unusual or that is especially bothersome. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Read the Targretin (bexarotene) Side Effects Center for a complete guide to possible side effects

What is the most important information I should know about bexarotene (Targretin)?

Avoid prolonged exposure to sunlight or artificial ultraviolet light (e.g. sunlamps). Bexarotene may increase the sensitivity of your skin to sunlight. Use a sunscreen and wear protective clothing when exposure to the sun is unavoidable.

Do not take bexarotene if you are pregnant or if you could become pregnant. Bexarotene is in the FDA pregnancy category X. This means that bexarotene will cause birth defects in an unborn baby. You must take a pregnancy test and have negative results within one week before starting treatment with bexarotene, and a pregnancy test should be repeated monthly during treatment. Bexarotene should be started on the second or third day of a normal menstrual period. Also, you will need to use two reliable forms of birth control at the same time for one month before starting treatment with bexarotene, during treatment with bexarotene, and for at least 1 month following the end of your treatment. If you become pregnant, stop using birth control, or miss your menstrual period, immediately stop taking bexarotene and notify your doctor. Men taking bexarotene with sexual partners who are pregnant, possibly pregnant, or who could become pregnant, must use condoms during sexual intercourse while using bexarotene and for at least one month after the last dose of bexarotene.

Swallow each capsule whole. Do not chew them, dissolve them in liquid, or allow them to dissolve in your mouth.

Your doctor will want to monitor the levels of lipids (triglycerides and cholesterol) and thyroid hormones in your blood periodically during treatment with bexarotene. Treatment may be necessary if your cholesterol or triglyceride levels become elevated, or if your thyroid hormone levels are low.

Grapefruit and grapefruit juice may interact with bexarotene. The interaction could have potentially dangerous effects. Discuss the use of grapefruit and grapefruit juice with your doctor. Do not increase or decrease the amount of grapefruit products in your diet without first talking to your doctor.

Side Effects Centers

Targretin - User Reviews

Targretin User Reviews

Now you can gain knowledge and insight about a drug treatment with Patient Discussions.

Here is a collection of user reviews for the medication Targretin sorted by most helpful. Patient Discussions FAQs

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration


You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.


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