Revlimid (lenalidomide)

Medically Reviewed By Brittany A. Duke, PharmD, RPh

This drug has boxed warnings, the most serious warnings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Boxed warnings alert doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.

Risk of severely low blood cell levels. Taking Revlimid can lead to severely low levels of certain blood cells. These blood cells include neutrophils (a type of white blood cell) and platelets (a type blood cell involved in clotting). Low levels of these blood cells can increase your risk of infection or bleeding. To learn more, see the “ Revlimid: Precautions” section below.

Risk of blood clots. Taking Revlimid can increase your risk of blood clots. These clots include deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE). (DVT is a blood clot in a deep vein, usually in the thigh or lower leg. PE is a blood clot in the lungs.) Having blood clots can also increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. To learn more, see the “ Revlimid: Precautions” section below.

Risk of harm if used during pregnancy. Doctors will not prescribe Revlimid for use during pregnancy. When taken during pregnancy, the drug may cause life threatening congenital anomalies (commonly known as birth defects). It can also cause death of a fetus. Due to this risk, Revlimid is only available through the Lenalidomide Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS) program. The FDA creates REMS programs to help make sure that certain medications are prescribed safely. For more information, see the “ Revlimid: Taking while pregnant” section below.

About Revlimid

Revlimid is a brand-name prescription medication. It’s approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat the following cancers in adults:

Revlimid is used to treat these cancers in certain situations. The drug also has limitations for use. For more information about how the drug is used, see the “Revlimid: Use for multiple myeloma” and “Revlimid: Other uses” sections below.

Key points

The following table provides key facts about Revlimid:

Active drug lenalidomide
Drug class thalidomide analog
Form oral capsule

Finding a healthcare professional

If you’re interested in taking this drug, search here to find a doctor who might prescribe it.

Revlimid: Generic

Revlimid is a brand-name medication. It contains the active drug lenalidomide, which also comes in a generic form. A generic is an identical copy of the active drug found in a brand-name medication.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ensures that generic drugs are as safe and effective as their original drug. Generics tend to be less expensive than brand-name drugs.

If you’d like to know about the generic version of Revlimid, ask your doctor or pharmacist. They can tell you if the generic medication comes in forms and strengths recommended for your condition.

Revlimid: Side effects

As with most drugs, it’s possible to have side effects with Revlimid. These can include some mild side effects but also some serious ones. Side effects may differ slightly between people with different cancers.

To learn more about Revlimid’s side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They may also provide information about managing certain side effects of this drug.

Note: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tracks side effects of drugs it has approved. If you would like to notify the FDA about a side effect you’ve had with Revlimid, you can do so through MedWatch.

Mild and serious side effects

Mild and serious side effects of Revlimid are listed below. This article does not include all of Revlimid’s possible side effects.

Mild side effects

Mild side effects* of Revlimid may include:

Most times, mild side effects of a drug go away within a few days or a couple of weeks. Talk with your doctor or pharmacist if any side effects become severe or don’t go away.

* This is not a complete list of Revlimid’s mild side effects. To learn about other mild side effects of this drug, ask your doctor or pharmacist. Or you can view the drug’s prescribing information.
† To learn more about allergic reaction, see below.

Serious side effects

Serious side effects of Revlimid may include:

Serious side effects from Revlimid aren’t common, but they are possible. If you have serious side effects, call your doctor right away. However, if you’re having a medical emergency or your symptoms feel life threatening, call 911 or a local emergency number.

* Revlimid has a boxed warning for this side effect. A boxed warning alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous. For more information about this side effect, see the “Revlimid: Precautions” section below.
Revlimid has a boxed warning for this side effect. A boxed warning alerts doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous. For more information about this side effect, see the “Revlimid: Taking while pregnant” section below.
‡ To learn more about allergic reaction, see below.

Allergic reaction

As with most drugs, some people can have an allergic reaction after taking Revlimid. A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible.

Allergic reaction was rare in clinical studies of Revlimid.

Possible symptoms of mild and serious allergic reactions are listed in the table below.

Mild allergic reaction symptoms Serious allergic reaction symptoms
flushing • swelling under your skin, possibly in your hands, feet, lips, or eyelids
rash • swelling in your throat or mouth
• itching trouble breathing

If you have an allergic reaction to Revlimid, call your doctor right away. This is important because the reaction could become severe.

However, if you’re having a medical emergency or your symptoms feel life threatening, call 911 or a local emergency number.

Revlimid: Use for multiple myeloma

Prescription drugs, such as Revlimid, are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat certain conditions. Doctors sometimes prescribe drugs off-label for other conditions. With off-label use, doctors prescribe a drug for a purpose other than what it’s approved for.

The FDA has approved Revlimid to treat certain cancers in adults. Keep reading to learn about Revlimid’s use for multiple myeloma. To learn about Revlimid for treatment of other cancers, see the “Revlimid: Other uses” section below.

Using Revlimid for multiple myeloma

The FDA has approved Revlimid to treat multiple myeloma in adults.

Multiple myeloma is a type of blood cancer. It affects certain blood cells that make antibodies (a type of protein) that fight infection. These cancer cells can eventually spread from the blood and affect other areas of the body, such as your bones or kidneys.

Some people may not have any symptoms of multiple myeloma. However, possible symptoms of this type of cancer include:

Some people with multiple myeloma will need a stem cell transplant. (Stem cells are a type of cell found in the bone marrow, which is the spongy tissue inside of bones. These cells can grow into other types of blood cells, such as white blood cells or red blood cells.) When a person receives a transplant using stem cells from their own body, the procedure is called an autologous stem cell transplant.

A stem cell transplant helps the body make new, healthy blood cells. These new blood cells can replace blood cells affected by multiple myeloma.

Doctors prescribe Revlimid for multiple myeloma in the following situations:

  • As the first treatment for multiple myeloma. In this case, Revlimid is used in combination with a corticosteroid drug called dexamethasone (Hemady).
  • After an autologous stem cell transplant procedure. In this case, Revlimid is used alone.

Revlimid’s limitation of use

The manufacturer of Revlimid has noted a limitation of the drug’s use. This is a situation in which treatment with the drug may not be recommended. Doctors aren’t likely to prescribe Revlimid to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Doing so could increase the risk of death in people with this type of cancer. If you have chronic lymphocytic leukemia, your doctor can recommend the right treatment for your condition.

Using Revlimid with other drugs

When used as a first treatment for multiple myeloma, doctors prescribe Revlimid in combination with dexamethasone (Hemady). (Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid drug.)

Your doctor can advise you on whether Revlimid will be used alone or in combination with other treatments for this condition.

Using Revlimid in children

Doctors typically won’t prescribe Revlimid for children. The drug is only approved for use in adults.

Finding a healthcare professional for Revlimid

If you’re interested in Revlimid for multiple myeloma, you can find a doctor who might prescribe it by searching here. You can also prepare for your appointment by visiting Healthgrade’s appointment guide for multiple myeloma.

Revlimid: Other uses

Prescription drugs, such as Revlimid, are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat certain conditions. Doctors sometimes prescribe drugs off-label for other conditions. With off-label use, doctors prescribe a drug for a purpose other than what it’s approved for.

The FDA has approved Revlimid to treat certain cancers in adults. To learn about Revlimid for treatment of multiple myeloma, see the “Revlimid: Use for multiple myeloma” section above. Keep reading to learn about Revlimid’s other uses.

Using Revlimid for follicular lymphoma

The FDA has approved Revlimid to treat follicular lymphoma in adults.

Follicular lymphoma is a type of blood cancer. It affects the lymphatic system, which is a system in the body that fights infection. This cancer grows slowly and often does not cause any symptoms.

However, possible symptoms of follicular lymphoma can include:

  • fever
  • unexpected weight loss
  • pain in the bones, chest, or abdomen
  • rash
  • swollen lymph nodes (glands that help the body fight infection) in the neck, armpit, or groin

Doctors prescribe Revlimid for follicular lymphoma that has already been treated in the past. For this use, it’s prescribed in combination with rituximab (Rituxan).  

Using Revlimid for marginal zone lymphoma

The FDA has approved Revlimid to treat marginal zone lymphoma in adults.

Marginal zone lymphoma is a type of blood cancer. It affects certain areas of the lymphatic system, which is a system in the body that fights infection.

Symptoms of marginal zone lymphoma may include:

  • fever
  • unexpected weight loss
  • night sweats
  • rash
  • abdominal pain, nausea, or vomiting

Doctors prescribe Revlimid for marginal zone lymphoma that has already been treated in the past. For this use, it’s prescribed in combination with rituximab (Rituxan). 

Using Revlimid for mantle cell lymphoma

The FDA has approved Revlimid to treat mantle cell lymphoma in adults.

Mantle cell lymphoma is a type of blood cancer. It affects the lymphatic system, which is a system in the body that fights infection. This type of cancer may also affect other parts of the body, such as the spleen or digestive system.

Some people may not have any symptoms of mantle cell lymphoma, especially while the cancer is in its early stages. However, possible symptoms of mantle cell lymphoma include:

Doctors prescribe Revlimid for mantle cell lymphoma that has already been treated with at least two therapies in the past. At least one of these therapies must have been bortezomib (Velcade).

Using Revlimid for myelodysplastic syndromes

The FDA has approved Revlimid to treat myelodysplastic syndromes in adults.

Myelodysplastic syndromes are a group of blood cancers that occur when the body cannot make healthy blood cells. These cancers can lead to conditions such as anemia (low level of red blood cells) and infection.

Some people may not have any symptoms of myelodysplastic syndromes, especially while the cancer is in its early stages. However, symptoms may appear as the condition worsens. Examples include:

Doctors prescribe Revlimid for myelodysplastic syndromes that have certain genetic changes. In addition, the cancer must be causing anemia that is severe enough to need a blood transfusion. (This procedure helps to increase the number of red blood cells in the body.)

Revlimid’s limitation of use

The manufacturer of Revlimid has noted a limitation of the drug’s use. This is a situation in which treatment with the drug may not be recommended. Doctors aren’t likely to prescribe Revlimid to treat chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Doing so could increase the risk of death in people with this type of cancer. If you have chronic lymphocytic leukemia, your doctor can recommend the right treatment for your condition.

Using Revlimid with other drugs

When treating follicular lymphoma or marginal zone lymphoma, doctors typically prescribe Revlimid in combination with rituximab (Rituxan). 

For other types of cancer, your doctor can recommend whether Revlimid will be used alone or in combination with other treatments.

Using Revlimid in children

Doctors typically won’t prescribe Revlimid for children. The drug is only approved for use in adults.

Finding a healthcare professional for Revlimid

If you’re interested in Revlimid for your condition, you can find a doctor who might prescribe it by searching here. You can also prepare for your appointment by visiting Healthgrades’s appointment guide for cancer or lymphoma.

Revlimid: Dosage

Below, you’ll find dosages that are commonly recommended for Revlimid. However, you should take the dosage your doctor prescribes for you. They’ll recommend the dosage that’s best for your needs.

The dosage of Revlimid that your doctor prescribes will depend on factors such as:

  • any health conditions you have
  • any side effects you may have
  • the condition you’re using Revlimid to treat and the severity of the condition

Revlimid’s forms and strengths

Revlimid is available as follows:

  • Form: oral capsule
  • Strengths:
    • 2.5 milligrams (mg)
    • 5 mg
    • 10 mg
    • 15 mg
    • 20 mg
    • 25 mg

Revlimid’s recommended dosages

Revlimid is approved to treat certain cancers in adults. To learn more about these conditions, “Revlimid: Use for multiple myeloma” and “Revlimid: Other uses” sections above.

Recommended dosages for Revlimid are described below.

Condition Starting dosage Maintenance dosage
multiple myeloma, when used as the first treatment same as maintenance dose 25 mg once per day on days 1 to 21 of a 28-day cycle, repeated every 28 days
multiple myeloma, when used after a stem cell transplant 10 mg once per day on days 1 to 28 of a 28-day cycle, repeated every 28 days for up to 3 cycles 15 mg once per day on days 1 to 28 of a 28-day cycle, repeated every 28 days
follicular lymphoma same as maintenance dose 20 mg once per day on days 1 to 21 of a 28-day cycle, repeated every 28 days for up to 336 days
marginal zone lymphoma same as maintenance dose 20 mg once per day on days 1 to 21 of a 28-day cycle, repeated every 28 days for up to 336 days
mantle cell lymphoma same as maintenance dose 25 mg once per day on days 1 to 21 of a 28-day cycle, repeated every 28 days
myelodysplastic syndromes same as maintenance dose 10 mg once per day

Your doctor may prescribe a different dosage of Revlimid depending on whether you have kidney disease. If you have questions about dosing for Revlimid, talk with your doctor.

Dosage considerations

Below are some things to consider about Revlimid’s dosage.

  • Missing a dose. If you miss a dose of Revlimid, check when your next dose is due. If it’s at least 12 hours away, take your missed dose as soon as you remember. However, if it’s fewer than 12 hours away, skip your missed dose and take your next dose at its usual time. Do not take two doses to make up for a missed dose. Doing so can increase your risk of side effects with Revlimid. Try these medication reminder options to help avoid missing doses. You could also set an alarm, use a timer, or download a reminder app on your phone.
  • Length of treatment. Doctors typically prescribe Revlimid as a long-term treatment. You’ll likely take it long term if you and your doctor feel it’s safe and effective for your condition.

Revlimid: Consuming alcohol during treatment

There isn’t a known interaction between Revlimid and alcohol. If you drink alcohol, talk with your doctor about an amount that’s safe to consume during treatment.

Revlimid: Questions you may have

Here are some common questions about Revlimid and brief answers to them. If you’d like to know more about these topics, ask your doctor.

Does Revlimid cause hair loss as a side effect?

Hair loss wasn’t reported as a side effect in clinical studies of Revlimid.

However, for certain types of cancer, Revlimid is used in combination with other treatments. One of these treatments is rituximab (Rituxan), which is known to cause hair loss. As such, it’s possible you may have hair loss while taking these medications together. However, in this case, hair loss is more likely a side effect of rituximab than of Revlimid.

If you have questions about hair loss and Revlimid, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

Is Revlimid a chemotherapy drug?

No, Revlimid is not a chemotherapy drug. Instead, it belongs to a class of drugs called thalidomide analogs.

Chemotherapy drugs work to treat cancer by destroying cells that grow rapidly. (Cancer cells typically grow faster than healthy cells.)

Thalidomide analogs, such as Revlimid, work differently than chemotherapy. To learn more, see “Revlimid: How it works” below.

Will Revlimid cure my condition?

No, Revlimid will not cure your condition. There are no known cures for any of the cancers Revlimid is used to treat.

However, in clinical studies, Revlimid was found to be effective for treating the following cancers:

For details about these cancers and how the drug treats them, see the “Revlimid: Use for multiple myeloma” and “Revlimid: Other uses” sections above.

Revlimid: How it works

Revlimid is used to treat the blood cancers below:

To learn more about these conditions, see the “Revlimid: Use for multiple myeloma” and “Revlimid: Other uses” sections above.

About blood cancers

Blood cancers typically occur when certain blood cells do not function as they should. These blood cells can multiply and spread throughout the body. As abnormal blood cells spread, they can stop healthy blood cells from working properly. This keeps healthy blood cells from performing important functions, such as responding to infection.

About Revlimid

Revlimid belongs to a class of drugs called thalidomide analogs. Its mechanism of action (how it works) is to treat cancer in several ways, including:

  • identifying and killing cancer cells
  • helping your immune system find and defend against cancer cells
  • helping prevent new cancer cells from growing

How long does Revlimid take to start working?

Revlimid starts working to treat cancer as soon as you take it. However, it may take several weeks for your cancer to stop growing.

You likely won’t notice Revlimid working in your body. However, your doctor will order tests during your treatment to check if Revlimid is working for you.

Revlimid: Alternatives

Doctors may prescribe drugs other than Revlimid for your condition. Certain drugs may work better for you than others.

Revlimid is used to treat multiple myeloma and other conditions, including lymphoma. Here’s a summary of other drugs that doctors sometimes prescribe for multiple myeloma.

For additional information about alternatives to Revlimid, ask your doctor. They can tell you about other medications that could be prescribed for your condition.

Revlimid vs. Velcade

To learn how the alternative drug Velcade compares with Revlimid, view this article. Ask your doctor if you have additional questions about these drugs.

Revlimid: Interactions

Revlimid may interact with other medications. However, the drug is not known to interact with any supplements or foods.

Different interactions can cause different effects. Some interactions can interfere with a drug’s effectiveness. Others can increase a drug’s side effects or cause them to be severe.

Before you start Revlimid, be sure to tell your doctor about any medications, herbs, vitamins, or supplements you take. They can check for any possible interactions between these products and Revlimid.

If any of the interactions listed below might pertain to you, talk with your doctor. They can tell you what you need to do to avoid the interaction.

  • Revlimid and certain medications. Because Revlimid may interact with the following drugs, your doctor may recommend you do not take it with these drugs. Examples include:
  • Revlimid and herbs and supplements. Revlimid isn’t known to interact with any herbs or supplements. If you have questions about taking certain supplements with Revlimid, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Revlimid and foods. There aren’t any interactions known between Revlimid and foods. If you have questions about eating certain foods with Revlimid, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

For information about drug-condition interactions, see the “Revlimid: Precautions” section below.

Revlimid: Cost

As with other medications, prices for Revlimid may vary. The drug’s price will depend on factors such as:

Cost considerations for Revlimid

Here’s a list of things to consider when looking into the cost of Revlimid.

  • Need for prior authorization. Before insurance coverage for Revlimid is approved, your insurance company may require prior authorization. In this case, your doctor and insurance company will communicate about your prescription for Revlimid. Then, the insurance company will decide if the drug will be covered. To find out if you need prior authorization for Revlimid, contact your insurance company.
  • Possible cost assistance options. Financial assistance to help lower the cost of Revlimid is available. The BMS Access Support program for Revlimid may help reduce its cost. To learn more and see if you’re eligible for support, call 800-861-0048 or visit the manufacturer’s website. Additionally, check out this article to learn about ways to save on prescription drugs.
  • Use of a certified pharmacy. Revlimid is only dispensed from pharmacies certified by the Lenalidomide Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS) program. These pharmacies are authorized to dispense Revlimid to people who are enrolled in the REMS program and meet all the conditions of the program. Ask your doctor which certified pharmacy they’ll prescribe Revlimid through.
  • Availability of a generic form. Revlimid comes in a generic form called lenalidomide. A generic drug is an exact copy of the active drug in a brand-name medication. Generics are typically less expensive than brand-name drugs. If your doctor prescribes Revlimid, but you want to know about taking lenalidomide, talk with them about which option might be better for you. Additionally, check your insurance plan because it might cover just one form or the other.

Revlimid: How to take

Your doctor will recommend how you should take Revlimid. It’s important to take the drug exactly as your doctor instructs.

Revlimid comes as an oral capsule. You’ll take the drug by swallowing the capsule whole with a glass of water.

Questions about taking Revlimid

Here’s a list of common questions related to taking Revlimid.

  • When should I take Revlimid? You’ll take Revlimid once a day. Try these medication reminder options to help avoid missing doses of Revlimid. You could also set an alarm, use a timer, or download a reminder app on your phone.
  • Do I need to take Revlimid with food? You can take Revlimid with food or without it.
  • Can Revlimid be chewed, split, or crushed? No, Revlimid capsules should not be chewed, split, or crushed. If you come in contact with the powder inside of Revlimid capsules, wash your hands right away with soap and water. If you have trouble swallowing Revlimid capsules, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
  • Is there a best time of day to take Revlimid? There isn’t a best time of day to take Revlimid. You can take the drug any time of day.

Revlimid: Taking while pregnant

Revlimid is not safe to use in pregnancy. In fact, Revlimid has a boxed warning about risk of harm to a fetus. These are the most serious warnings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Boxed warnings alert doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.

Based on the results of animal studies, Revlimid may cause death of a fetus. The drug may also cause life threatening congenital anomalies (commonly known as birth defects). Examples include problems with the arms or legs.

Animal studies do not always predict what happens in humans. However, to be safe, doctors will not prescribe Revlimid for use during pregnancy.

REMS program

Due to the risk of harm to a fetus, Revlimid is only available through the Lenalidomide Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS) program. The FDA creates REMS programs to help make sure that certain medications are prescribed safely.

If you’re prescribed Revlimid, your doctor can help you enroll and learn about the requirements. You can receive Revlimid only if you’re enrolled in the REMS program.

If you’re able to become pregnant, you’ll have a pregnancy test before starting Revlimid treatment. You’ll continue to have pregnancy tests every 2 to 4 weeks while you take the drug. You’ll also commit to following certain birth control requirements. (For details, see “Revlimid: Birth control needs” below.)

Your doctor must also be enrolled in the REMS program. They’ll receive training on how safely prescribe the medication. In addition, the drug must be dispensed from a pharmacy that’s been certified by REMS.

Revlimid pregnancy registry

If you become pregnant while using Revlimid, stop taking the drug and tell your doctor right away. If pregnancy occurs, it’s important to enroll in the drug’s pregnancy registry.

This registry helps gather information about how Revlimid affects pregnancy. To enroll in the Revlimid pregnancy registry, talk with your doctor. You can also call the FDA at 800-FDA-1088 or contact the REMS program at 888-432-5436.

Revlimid: Birth control needs

It’s not safe to take Revlimid during pregnancy. Talk with your doctor about your birth control needs with Revlimid if you’re sexually active and you or your partner can become pregnant.

Due to this risk, Revlimid is only available through the Lenalidomide Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS) program. If you’d like to learn more about the REMS program and taking Revlimid during pregnancy, see the “Revlimid: Taking while pregnant” section above.

Note: Sex and gender exist on spectrums. In this article, use of the terms “male” and “female” refers to sex assigned at birth.

For females taking Revlimid

If you’re a female, you’ll either use two forms of effective birth control or abstain from sex that may lead to pregnancy.

If you use two forms of birth control, you’ll start doing so at least 4 weeks before Revlimid treatment begins. You’ll continue using two forms during Revlimid treatment and for at least 4 weeks after your last dose of the drug.

For males taking Revlimid

If you’re a male and are sexually active with a partner who’s able to become pregnant, you’ll use a condom while taking the drug. Revlimid can pass into semen. As such, it’s important to use a condom even if you’ve had a vasectomy. You’ll continue using a condom for at least 4 weeks after your last dose of Revlimid.

Revlimid: Taking while breastfeeding

It’s not known whether Revlimid passes into breast milk or if the drug could affect a child who is breastfed.

However, to be safe, your doctor may advise you to avoid breastfeeding while taking Revlimid.

If you’re breastfeeding or planning to do so, talk with your doctor. They can recommend healthy ways to feed your child.

Revlimid: Precautions

This drug comes with several precautions.

FDA warnings

This drug has boxed warnings, the most serious warnings from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Boxed warnings alert doctors and patients about drug effects that may be dangerous.

Risk of severely low blood cell levels. Taking Revlimid can lead to severely low levels of certain blood cells. These include neutrophils (a type of white blood cell) and platelets (a type of blood cell). Low levels of these blood cells can increase your risk of infection or bleeding.

Having low blood cell levels may not cause any symptoms. However, your doctor will check your blood cell levels from time to time while you take Revlimid. If you have low blood cell levels, your doctor may have you stop the drug temporarily. After your blood cells return to a safe level, your doctor may restart Revlimid at a lower dose.

If you have questions about low blood cell levels with Revlimid, talk with your doctor.

Risk of blood clots. Taking Revlimid can increase your risk of blood clots. These clots include deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE). (DVT is a blood clot in a deep vein, usually in the thigh or lower leg. PE is a blood clot in the lungs.)

Symptoms of a blood clot can vary depending on where it occurs. DVTs typically cause warmth, pain, swelling, or skin discoloration in the affected area. PEs typically cause chest pain, trouble breathing, and coughing up blood.

Having blood clots can also increase your risk of heart attack and stroke. Symptoms of heart attack include pain that travels to the neck, jaw, back, or arm and tightening or squeezing of the chest. Symptoms of stroke include sudden weakness or numbness on one side of the body, such as in the face, arms, or legs.

Due to this risk, your doctor may prescribe a blood thinner with Revlimid. (Blood thinners are used to help prevent blood clots.) An example is warfarin (Jantoven).

Having certain health conditions may increase your risk of blood clots with Revlimid. Examples include high blood pressure and high cholesterol. If you have these conditions, be sure to tell your doctor before starting Revlimid treatment. They can recommend whether Revlimid is safe for you to take.

If you have symptoms of a blood clot, talk with your doctor. They’ll instruct you on what to do. However, you should call 911 or a local emergency number right away if your symptoms seem life threatening, or if you’re having symptoms of a heart attack or stroke.

Risk of harm if used during pregnancy. Doctors will not prescribe Revlimid for use during pregnancy. When taken during pregnancy, the drug may cause life threatening congenital anomalies (commonly known as birth defects). It can also cause the death of a fetus.

Due to this risk, Revlimid is only available through the Lenalidomide Risk Evaluation and Mitigation Strategies (REMS) program. The FDA creates REMS programs to help make sure that certain medications are prescribed safely. For more information, see the “Revlimid: Taking while pregnant” section above.

Other precautions

Tell your doctor about your health history before starting treatment with Revlimid. Your doctor may not recommend this medication if you have certain factors affecting your health or specific medical conditions. These situations are considered drug-condition interactions.

These factors and conditions include:

  • Liver problems. In rare cases, Revlimid may cause liver failure as a side effect. Your risk of this side effect may be higher if you have liver problems, such as hepatitis (inflammation of the liver). Before taking Revlimid, be sure to tell your doctor if you have liver problems. They can recommend whether Revlimid is a safe treatment option for you.
  • Kidney problems. Before taking Revlimid, tell your doctor if you have kidney problems, such as kidney failure. Revlimid is excreted through the kidneys. If you have kidney problems, you may have an increased risk of side effects from Revlimid. Your doctor will likely prescribe a lower dosage of Revlimid for you to reduce this risk.
  • Thyroid problems. In rare cases, Revlimid may cause thyroid problems as a side effect. Examples include underactive or overactive thyroid function. If you already have a thyroid problem, Revlimid could affect your condition. Your doctor can advise you on whether Revlimid is a safe treatment option for you.
  • Lactose intolerance. Revlimid contains lactose as an ingredient. If you’re lactose intolerant, your doctor may not prescribe Revlimid for you. They can recommend other treatment options for your condition.
  • Allergic reaction. Your doctor will likely not prescribe Revlimid if you’ve had an allergic reaction to it or any of its ingredients. To find out about other treatment options, talk with your doctor.
  • Pregnancy. It’s not safe to take Revlimid while pregnant. If you’d like additional information about taking Revlimid while pregnant, view the “Revlimid: Taking while pregnant” section above.
  • Breastfeeding. It’s not known whether Revlimid passes into breast milk. If you’d like additional information about taking Revlimid while breastfeeding, view the “Revlimid: Taking while breastfeeding” section above.

To learn more about effects of Revlimid that could be harmful, see the “Revlimid: Side effects” section above.

Revlimid: Overdose

Serious effects can occur if you use more than the recommended dosage of Revlimid. Do not use more Revlimid than your doctor recommends.  

Symptoms of overdose

Symptoms that an overdose could cause include:

What to do in case of overdose

Call your doctor if you think you’ve taken too much of this drug. You can also call the American Association of Poison Control Centers at 800-222-1222 or use its online tool. However, if your symptoms are severe, call 911 or your local emergency number. Or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

Revlimid: Expiration, storage, and disposal

Here’s some information about Revlimid’s expiration date, as well as how to store and dispose of the drug.

  • Expiration. Your pharmacist will add an expiration date to the label on Revlimid’s bottle. This date is usually 1 year from the date the medication was dispensed to you. Expiration dates help ensure that a medication is effective during a period of time. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) advises that you avoid taking expired drugs. If you have an unused medication and it’s past the drug’s expiration date, talk with your pharmacist. They can let you know whether you might still be able to use the medication.
  • Storage. Many factors determine how long a medication remains good to use. These factors include how and where you store the drug. You’ll store Revlimid capsules at temperatures between 68°F and 77°F (20°C to 25°C). You can temporarily store the drug at temperatures between 59°F and 86°F (15°C to 30°C), such as when traveling. Avoid storing it in areas where it could get damp or wet, such as bathrooms. The medication should be kept in a tightly sealed container.
  • Disposal. It’s important to safely dispose of Revlimid if you no longer need to take it and have unused medication. Doing so helps prevent others, including children and pets, from accidentally taking the drug. It also helps avoid causing harm to the environment. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for information about disposing of Revlimid. You can also contact the drug’s manufacturer at 888-432-5436 for disposal instructions. Check out this page for several tips on safe medication disposal.

Revlimid: Questions for your doctor

If you have questions about Revlimid, talk with your doctor. They can help advise you on whether Revlimid could be a good treatment option for you.

Here’s a list of questions you may want to ask your doctor:

  • Do I have any health conditions that affect my dosage of Revlimid?
  • Will I need to take a blood thinner during Revlimid treatment?
  • How is Revlimid different from other treatments for my condition?

Your doctor may also tell you about other treatment options for your condition. You may find this article helpful in learning about alternative drugs for multiple myeloma.

Disclaimer: Healthgrades has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.

Medical Reviewer: Brittany A. Duke, PharmD, RPh
Last Review Date: 2022 Jul 21
THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.