Imatinib for people with GIST: Glivec brand is changing

For people with gastrointestinal stromal tumour (GIST), your brand of imatinib (Glivec) is changing to Imatinib-Rex. You will also collect your medicine from your pharmacy.

Glivec is a dark-tan coloured tablet with a score mark. The Rex-Imatinib is a red and white capsule..
Not shown to scale.

For people with GIST taking imatinib

Your medicine, imatinib (Glivec) tablet, has changed brand. The new brand is called Imatinib-Rex and it comes as a capsule.

How you receive your imatinib also changed. You no longer receive your imatinib via courier delivery. You need to pick up your imatinib from your pharmacy.

25 October 2023: You received your last delivery of Glivec

People with gastrointestinal stromal tumour (GIST) taking the Glivec brand of imatinib received their usual 30-day supply of imatinib mesilate (Glivec) tablets.

This was the last supply to be sent by direct distribution. People then had at least four weeks’ supply of Glivec giving them time to get a prescription from their doctor for ongoing supplies of imatinib. This will be the Imatinib-Rex brand of imatinib capsules.

During October–November 2023 

People with GIST needed to contact their oncologist or GP to arrange for a prescription for imatinib (Imatinib-Rex) before their supply of Glivec runs out. A new prescription will then be needed every three months (in the same way as for most other medicines).

After November 2023

As people with GIST taking Glivec got a 30-day supply on 25 October they shouldn’t need to get more imatinib until late November at the earliest. They can get the funded imatinib (Imatinib-Rex) capsules through their usual community pharmacy when more supply is needed, in the same way as they do for most other funded medicines. There will be no cost for this.

For people with CML taking imatinib

There are no changes for people with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML). They are already taking Imatinb-Rex capsules and they have been picking up their imatinib from their community pharmacy since 2014. 

For community pharmacies

Community pharmacies will continue to access imatinib (Imatinib-Rex) though their usual supply channels. Any community pharmacy dispensing funded imatinib can claim reimbursement in the usual way.

Glivec brand imatinib remained XPharm until it was delisted at the end of November 2023. From 1 December 2023 Imatinib-Rex was listed as the sole supplied brand of fully funded imatinib.

For prescribers

Changes to registration of imatinib (Imatinib-Rex brand):

Imatinib-Rex has been registered by Medsafe for the GIST indication (in addition to the indications for which it is already registered, including for the treatment of people with CML).

Direct distribution of Glivec will cease

After changing to Rex-Imatinib, people will need to take their prescription to a pharmacy to have it filled. They will no longer receive Glivec deliveries.

Brand change for people with GIST taking Glivec          

People with GIST taking Glivec will be changing brands of imatinib to the open-listed Imatinib-Rex brand and will need to manage their own prescriptions for imatinib in consultation with their prescriber.

No more applications to Pharmac for Glivec

Since July 2023, clinicians no longer needed to submit applications to Pharmac for people taking Glivec.

Prescribing for people with GIST who are already taking Glivec brand imatinib

Imatinib-Rex has been listed without restrictions on indication, strength, or dose since June 2021. Any registered prescriber (including a GP) is able to prescribe Imatinib-Rex. There will no longer be a restriction on dosage of imatinib for people with GIST as they will be changing from Glivec to the Imatinib-Rex brand of imatinib.

Prescribing for people with GIST starting treatment with imatinib after 1 July

From 1 July any registered medical practitioner (including a GP) has been able to prescribe Imatinib-Rex for people with GIST commencing treatment with imatinib and these people will be able to get supplies of imatinib (Imatinib-Rex) from their local community pharmacy. No application needs to be sent to Pharmac.

Sole supply of imatinib

From 1 December 2023, Imatinib-Rex was the sole supplied brand of fully funded imatinib.

For Te Whatu Ora Hospitals

The change for people with GIST will incur costs to the hospital for imatinib that are not currently payable (due to direct distribution arranged by Pharmac). However, due to the significantly lower cost of Imatinib-Rex brand, there will likely be longer-term savings to the health sector as an outcome of this change.

Who to contact

If you have questions about this brand change, email

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First published: 11 July 2023