Zykadia (Ceritinib) – Oral

What Is Zykadia?

Zykadia (ceritinib) is an oral medication used to treat adults with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). You are eligible for treatment with Zykadia if your cancer has metastasized (spread) to areas of the body outside of the lung, or has an anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) mutation.

Zykadia is a kinase inhibitor. It works by blocking the action of a protein called ALK and other proteins found on cancer cells to stop these cells from multiplying.

This medication is available in tablet and capsule form.

Drug Facts

Generic Name: Ceritinib

Brand Name(s): Zykadia

Drug Availability: Prescription

Administration Route: Oral 

Therapeutic Classification: Kinase inhibitor

Available Generically: No

Controlled Substance: No

Active Ingredient: Ceritinib

Dosage Form(s): Capsules, tablets

What Is Zykadia Used For?

Zykadia is used to treat metastatic NSCLC with an ALK mutation.

An ALK mutation is found in about 4% of NSCLCs. To find this mutation, specialized genomic testing is done on the cancer cells. ALK mutations cause the cancer cells in NSCLC to grow quickly and out of control. Zykadia blocks the action of ALK, which stops these cells from proliferating.

How to Take Zykadia

Take Zykadia by mouth once a day with food. Swallow the capsules or tablets whole; do not break, crush, or chew them. Do not take Zykadia with grapefruit juice, which can affect how well the medication works in the body.

Because this medication can be harmful if used during pregnancy, females who are able to become pregnant should use reliable birth control during treatment and for six months after stopping. Males with female partners should use condoms during treatment and for three months afterward.

Storage 

Store Zykadia in its original package at room temperature (between 68 and 77 degrees F). Do not store it in the bathroom. As with any medication, keep it out of reach of children and pets to prevent accidental consumption.

How Long Does Zykadia Take to Work?

The full benefit of the medication may not be known for a few months after starting it. Your oncologist will periodically do imaging tests to see how well the medication is working.

What Are the Side Effects of Zykadia?

This is not a complete list of side effects, and others may occur. A healthcare provider can advise you on side effects. If you experience other effects, contact your pharmacist or a healthcare provider. You may report side effects to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) at www.fda.gov/medwatch or 800-FDA-1088.

Common Side Effects 

The most common side effects associated with Zykadia are:


Severe Side Effects 

Call your healthcare provider immediately if you have serious side effects. Call 911 if your symptoms feel life-threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency. Serious side effects and their symptoms can include the following:

  • Liver dysfunction: Yellowing of the skin or whites of the eyes (jaundice), abdominal pain, itchy skin, easy bruising
  • Lung problems: Shortness of breath, cough, chest pain, fever
  • Heart problems: Abnormal heart rhythm, palpitations, dizziness, chest pain
  • Pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas): Abdominal pain, vomiting, back pain
  • High blood sugar

Report Side Effects

Zykadia may cause other side effects. Call your healthcare provider if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your healthcare provider may send a report to the FDA's MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting Program or by phone (800-332-1088).

Dosage: How Much Zykadia Should I Take?

Drug Content Provided and Reviewed by IBM Micromedex®

The dose of this medicine will be different for different patients. Follow your doctor's orders or the directions on the label. The following information includes only the average doses of this medicine. If your dose is different, do not change it unless your doctor tells you to do so.

The amount of medicine that you take depends on the strength of the medicine. Also, the number of doses you take each day, the time allowed between doses, and the length of time you take the medicine depend on the medical problem for which you are using the medicine.

  • For oral dosage forms (capsule, tablet):
    • For treatment of non-small cell lung cancer:
      • Adults—450 milligrams (mg) once a day. Your doctor may adjust your dose as needed or tolerated.
      • Children—Use and dose must be determined by your doctor.

Modifications 

Dose changes may be needed if you experience side effects that become bothersome or severe. Depending on the severity, your healthcare provider may decide to lower your dose.

You may also need a dosage adjustment if you have preexisting liver disease.

Missed Dose 

If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember, as long as you have at least 12 hours before the next dose. If it is closer than 12 hours to your next dose, skip the missed dose. Never double up on doses.

Overdose: What Happens If I Take Too Much Zykadia?

Notify your healthcare provider immediately if you take too much of your medication. Medical treatment may be needed, such as blood tests or heart rhythm tests.

What Happens If I Overdose on Zykadia?

If you think you or someone else may have overdosed on Zykadia, call a healthcare provider or the Poison Control Center (800-222-1222).

If someone collapses or isn't breathing after taking Zykadia, call 911 immediately.

Precautions

Drug Content Provided and Reviewed by IBM Micromedex®

It is very important that your doctor check your progress at regular visits to make sure this medicine is working properly. Blood tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.

Using this medicine while you are pregnant can harm your unborn baby. If you are a woman who can get pregnant, your doctor may give you a pregnancy test before you start using this medicine to make sure you are not pregnant. Female patients should use effective birth control during treatment and for at least 6 months after the last dose. Male patients who have female partners should use effective birth control during treatment and for at least 3 months after the last dose. If you think you have become pregnant while using this medicine, tell your doctor right away.

Cancer medicines can cause diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, or stomach pain in most people, sometimes even after receiving medicines to prevent it. Ask your doctor or nurse about other ways to control these unwanted effects.

Check with your doctor right away if you have pain or tenderness in the upper stomach, pale stools, dark urine, loss of appetite, nausea, vomiting, or yellow eyes or skin. These could be symptoms of a serious liver problem.

This medicine may cause swelling of the lungs (pneumonitis) or interstitial lung disease. These are life-threatening conditions and require immediate medical attention. The symptoms may be similar to the symptoms of lung cancer. Check with your doctor right away if you have new or worsening cough, fever, or trouble breathing.

Contact your doctor right away if you have any changes to your heart rhythm. You might feel dizzy or faint, or you might have a slow, fast, pounding, or uneven heartbeat. Make sure your doctor knows if you had a heart rhythm problem, including QT prolongation.

This medicine may increase your blood sugar levels. Check with your doctor right away if you have confusion, nausea, vomiting, increased hunger, thirst or urination, or unusual tiredness or weakness.

Pancreatitis (swelling of the pancreas) may occur while you are using this medicine. Check with your doctor right away if you have loss of appetite, nausea, or pains in the stomach, side, or abdomen, possibly radiating to the back.

This medicine may make your skin more sensitive to sunlight. Use a sunscreen and protective clothing when you are outdoors. Avoid sunlamps and tanning beds.

Do not take other medicines unless they have been discussed with your doctor. This includes prescription or nonprescription (over-the-counter [OTC]) medicines and herbal or vitamin supplements.

What Are Reasons I Shouldn’t Take Zykadia?

Do not take Zykadia if you are pregnant or while breastfeeding. Wait at least two weeks after stopping it to start breastfeeding.

Do not give this medication to children.

What Other Medications Interact With Zykadia?

Before starting treatment, tell your healthcare provider about all your medications, including prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drugs, vitamins, and herbal supplements. They can help ensure you are taking your medication safely.

Certain medications should not be taken along with Zykadia. Doing so can cause severe interactions. These medications include:

This is not a complete list of all medication interactions that may occur with Zykadia. Some medications may need to be avoided altogether, or your healthcare provider may change the dose.

What Medications Are Similar?

Other medications are available that treat ALK mutation in metastatic NSCLC. These medications work in similar ways and include:

  • Xalkori (crizotinib)
  • Alecensa (alectinib)
  • Alunbrig (brigatinib)

This is not a list of other medications that are recommended to be taken along with Zykadia. These medications should not be taken together.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What is Zykadia used for?

    Zykadia is used to treat metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with an ALK mutation.

  • How does Zykadia work?

    Zykadia works by blocking the ALK pathway. This pathway is altered in ALK-mutated lung cancers and is used by cancer cells to grow abnormally. By blocking ALK, Zykadia slows cancer cell growth.

  • What drugs should not be taken with Zykadia?

    Some medications should not be used along with Zykadia. These medications include phenobarbital, ketoconazole, verapamil, and erythromycin.

  • What are the side effects of Zykadia?

    The side effects of Zykadia include nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, abdominal pain, and decreased appetite or weight loss.

How Can I Stay Healthy While Taking Zykadia?

Starting cancer therapy can be daunting, especially when you hear about potential side effects associated with cancer medications. However, your cancer care team can help you understand what to expect and how to manage any side effects. Don't hesitate to communicate any concerns or feelings you are having about your treatment to your healthcare providers.

Remember to allow yourself to rest while undergoing cancer treatment. Tell your oncologist if you're experiencing any symptoms of cancer-related fatigue. They may be able to help you manage the symptoms or identify any underlying medical problems.

Medical Disclaimer

Verywell Health's drug information is meant for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment from a healthcare provider. Consult your healthcare provider before taking any new medication(s). IBM Watson Micromedex provides some of the drug content, as indicated on the page.

4 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Food and Drug Administration. Zykadia label.

  2. PubChem. Ceritinib.

  3. American Lung Association. ALK and lung cancer.

  4. Khan M, Lin J, Liao G, et al. ALK inhibitors in the treatment of alk positive nsclcFront Oncol. 2019;0. doi.org/10.3389/fonc.2018.00557

By Julie Scott, MSN, ANP-BC, AOCNP
Julie is an Adult Nurse Practitioner with oncology certification and a healthcare freelance writer with an interest in educating patients and the healthcare community.