Slideshows Images Quizzes


Last reviewed on RxList: 3/6/2017
Caprelsa Side Effects Center

Last reviewed on RxList 5/20/2016

Caprelsa (vandetanib) is a cancer medication indicated for the treatment of the latter stages of a rare form of thyroid cancer called medullary thyroid cancer. Common side effects of Caprelsa include:

  • nausea
  • diarrhea
  • abdominal pain
  • vomiting
  • indigestion
  • dry mouth
  • loss of appetite
  • rash
  • high blood pressure
  • general feeling of being unwell (malaise)
  • acne
  • dry skin
  • skin sensitivity to sunlight
  • itching
  • nail abnormalities
  • hair loss
  • headache
  • changes in taste
  • fatigue
  • upper respiratory tract infection
  • blurred vision
  • depression, and
  • muscle spasms

Caprelsa (vandetanib) is available in two strengths, 100 and 300 mg tablets. Because of the potential for sudden death and cardiac problems, Caprelsa is available only through a restricted distribution program called CAPRELSA REMS Program. Only prescribers and pharmacies certified with the program are able to prescribe and dispense Caprelsa. The recommended daily dose is 300 mg of Caprelsa taken orally, with or without food. Caprelsa should not be taken with medications prescribed for a heart rhythm defect called long QT syndrome. While taking Caprelsa, patients should avoid taking St. John's wort or drugs that may prolong the QT interval. Caprelsa tablets should not be crushed. Direct contact of crushed tablets with the skin or mucous membranes should be avoided. Serious side effects include respiratory problems, heart failure, cardiac arrhythmias, hypothyroidism, and a serious infection of the blood called sepsis. Heart rhythm disorders and sudden deaths have been reported.

Caprelsa can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman. If this drug is used during pregnancy, or if the patient becomes pregnant while taking this drug, the patient should be apprised of the potential hazard to the fetus. Women of childbearing potential should be advised to avoid becoming pregnant during treatment with Caprelsa. Breastfeeding mothers are advised to discontinue nursing while receiving Caprelsa therapy. Because many drugs are excreted in human milk and because of the potential for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants from Caprelsa, a decision should be made whether to discontinue nursing or to discontinue the drug, taking into account the importance of the drug to the mother. Safety and efficacy of Caprelsa in pediatric patients have not been established.

Our Caprelsa Side Effects Drug Center provides a comprehensive view of available drug information on the potential side effects when taking this medication. Caprelsa tablets should not be crushed.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Caprelsa Professional Information


The following serious adverse reactions are discussed elsewhere in the label:

Clinical Studies Experience

Because clinical trials are conducted under widely varying conditions, adverse reaction rates observed in the clinical trials of a drug cannot be directly compared to rates in the clinical trials of another drug and may not reflect the rates observed in practice.

Patients with unresectable locally advanced or metastatic medullary thyroid cancer were treated with CAPRELSA 300 mg (n=231) or Placebo (n=99). The population exposed to CAPRELSA was 58% male, 94% white, and had a median age of 50 years. The data described below reflect a median exposure to CAPRELSA for 607 days.

The most commonly reported adverse drug reactions which occurred in >20% of CAPRELSA-treated patients and with a between-arm difference of ≥5% included, in order of decreasing frequency: diarrhea/colitis, rash, acneiform dermatitis, hypertension, nausea, headache, upper respiratory tract infection, decreased appetite, and abdominal pain.

Among CAPRELSA-treated patients, dose interruption occurred in 109 (47%) and dose reduction occurred in 83 (36%). Adverse reactions led to study treatment discontinuation in 28 of 231 patients (12%) receiving CAPRELSA and in 3 of 99 patients (3.0%) receiving placebo. Adverse reactions leading to permanent discontinuation in 2 or more (≥0.9%) patients treated with CAPRELSA were: asthenia (1.7%), rash (1.7%), diarrhea (0.9%), fatigue (0.9%), pyrexia (0.9%), elevated creatinine (0.9%), QT prolongation (0.9%), and hypertension (0.9%).

Table 1 - Per-Patient Incidence of Selected Adverse Reactions Occurring at a Higher Incidence in CAPRELSA-Treated Patients During Randomized Treatment [Between- Arm Difference of ≥5% (All Grades )*]

System Organ Class Preferred Term CAPRELSA 300 mg
All Grades
Grade 3–4
All Grades
Grade 3–4
Gastrointestinal Disorders
  Diarrhea/Colitis 57 11 27 2
  Nausea 33 1 16 0
  Abdominal Pain 21 3 11 0
  Vomiting 15 1 7 0
  Dyspepsia 11 0 4 0
  Dry Mouth 9 0 3 0
Skin and Cutaneous Disorders
  Rash 53 5 12 0
  Dermatitis Acneiform/Acne 35 1 7 0
  Dry Skin 15 0 5 0
  Photosensitivity Reaction 13 2 0 0
  Pruritus 11 1 4 0
  Nail abnormalities§ 9 0 0 0
  Alopecia 8 N/A 0 N/A
Vascular Disorders
  Hypertension/Hypertensive Crisis/Accelerated Hypertension 33 9 5 1
Nervous System Disorders
  Headache 26 1 9 0
  Dysgeusia 8 0 3 0
General Disorders
  Fatigue¶ 24 6 23 1
  Upper Respiratory Tract Infections# 23 0 16 0
Metabolic and Nutritional Disorders
  Decreased Appetite 21 4 12 0
  Hypocalcemia 11 2 3 0
  ECG QT ProlongedÞ 14 8 1 1
Eye Disorders
  Corneal Abnormalitiesß 13 0 1 0
  Blurred Vision 9 0 1 0
Renal Disorders
  Proteinuria 10 0 2 0
Psychiatric Disorders
  Depression 10 2 3 0
Endocrine Disorders
  Hypothyroidism 6 0 0 0
Musculoskeletal Disorders
  Muscle Spasms 6 0 1 0
*CTCAE version 3 was used to grade adverse events.
Includes abdominal pain, abdominal pain upper, lower abdominal pain and abdominal discomfort.
Includes rash, rash (erythematous, generalized, macular, maculo-papular, papular, pruritic, and exfoliative), dermatitis, dermatitis bullous, generalized erythema, and eczema.
§Includes nail disorder, nail bed inflammation, nail bed tenderness, paronychia, nail bed infection, and nail infection.
¶Included in Table 1 due to the increased incidence of severe fatigue in the CAPRELSA group compared to the placebo group.
#Includes laryngitis, nasopharyngitis, pharyngitis, sinusitis, upper respiratory tract infection, acute sinusitis, rhinitis, and tracheitis.
Þ69% had QT prolongation >4 50ms and 7% had QT prolongation >500ms by ECG using Fridericia correction.
ßIncludes corneal edema, corneal opacity, corneal dystrophy, corneal pigmentation, keratopathy, arcus lipoides, corneal deposits, acquired corneal dystrophy.

Clinically important uncommon adverse drug reactions in patients who received CAPRELSA versus patients who received placebo included pancreatitis (0.4% vs. 0%) and heart failure (0.9% vs. 0%).

Blurred vision was more common in patients who received CAPRELSA versus patients who received placebo for medullary thyroid cancer (9% vs. 1%, respectively). Scheduled slit lamp examinations revealed corneal opacities (vortex keratopathies) in treated patients, which can lead to halos and decreased visual acuity. Perform ophthalmologic examination, including slit lamp examination, in patients who report visual changes.

Class effects

CAPRELSA is an inhibitor of vascular endothelial growth factor receptor (VEGFR) signaling. Inhibition of VEGFR signaling can result in intestinal perforation. Intestinal perforation occurred in 0.4% of CAPRELSA treated patients versus 0% of placebo treated patients.

The incidence of Grade 1–2 bleeding events was 14% in patients receiving CAPRELSA compared with 7% on placebo in the randomized portion of the medullary thyroid cancer (MTC) study.

Table 2 - Per-Patient Incidence of Selected Laboratory Abnormalities in Patients with MTC Occurring at a Higher Incidence in CAPRELSA-Treated Patients [Between-Arm Difference of ≥5% (All Grades)*]

Laboratory Abnormalities CAPRELSA 300 mg
All Grades
Grade 3– 4
All Grades
Grade 3– 4
  Hypocalcemia 57 6 25 3
  ALT Increased 51 2 19 0
  Hypoglycemia 24 0 7 1
  Creatinine Increased 16 0 1 0
  Hypomagnesemia 7 <1 2 0
  Neutropenia 10 <1 5 2
  Thrombocytopenia 9 0 3 0
*CTCAE version 3 was used to grade laboratory abnormalities.

No patient with a Grade 3–4 ALT elevation had a concomitant increase in bilirubin in the MTC study.

Read the entire FDA prescribing information for Caprelsa (Vandetanib)

Related Resources for Caprelsa

© Caprelsa Patient Information is supplied by Cerner Multum, Inc. and Caprelsa Consumer information is supplied by First Databank, Inc., used under license and subject to their respective copyrights.

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors