1 What is Tarceva?

Brand: Tarceva

Generic: Erlotinib

Tarceva is an antineoplastic drug used for the treatment of advanced or metastatic non-small cell lung carcinoma. This drug can also be used with gemcitabine to treat pancreatic cancer.

Tarceva belongs to the group of medicines called antineoplastics (cancer medicines). This drug works by inhibiting tyrosine kinase. This drug requires a prescription.

2 What to Know Before Using

Before using Tarceva, you must know all about the risks and complications associated with it. Inform your healthcare provider for any allergic reactions to these drugs or any other drugs, foods, dyes, preservatives, or animals. Carefully read the label of non-prescription drugs for any possible allergic reaction or contraindications.

Studies in children regarding the correlation of age to the effects of erlotinib have not been performed while safety and efficacy have not been established. Studies in the elderly have not reported any geriatric-specific problems that would limit the utility of erlotinib.

Risks to the fetus have been reported in studies but this may be outweighed by the benefits of therapy in a life threatening situation or a serious disease. Infant risk is still undetermined when taking this drug during breastfeeding. Discuss with your healthcare professional about the risks and benefits of this drug before breastfeeding.

Drugs should not be taken together to prevent any interactions but in necessary cases inquire your healthcare provider regarding the adjustments in dosage or any other necessary precautions to prevent any unwanted side effects.

Inform your healthcare professional if you are taking any other drugs such as:

  • NSAIDs
  • Blood thinners
  • Corticosteroids
  • H2 blockers
  • Proton pumps inhibitors
  • Azole antifungals
  • Macrolide antibiotics
  • Cimetidine
  • Rifamycins
  • St. John's wort
  • Anti-seizure drugs
  • or HIV protease inhibitors

Intake of specific food or using alcohol or tobacco with this drug is associated with an increased risk of certain side effects. Your healthcare professional can give you special instructions about the use of food, alcohol, or tobacco.

Inform your healthcare provider for any other medical problems such as:

  • Bleeding problems
  • Dehydration
  • Eye or vision problems
  • History of heart attack
  • Intestinal or stomach problems
  • Lung or breathing problems
  • Stroke
  • Liver diseases

3 Proper Usage

To use Tarceva properly, you must follow all instructions given by your doctor. The anti-cancer drug has been associated to produce a handful of unwanted effects. It is important for you to work closely with your healthcare professional during your treatment.

Take this drug on an empty stomach, at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after food. Take heartburn drugs at least 10 hours before or 2 hours after you take this drug. Avoid intake of grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice while you are using this drug. A change in your tobacco smoking status could result in a change in dose.

The dose of this drug will be variable for different patients. The directions on the label or the prescription by your healthcare professional should be followed. The dosage of this drug you take depends on the medical problem for which you are using this drug.

Adults with lung cancer are prescribed 150 milligrams once a day. Use and dose in children must be determined by your healthcare professional. Adults with pancreatic cancer are prescribed 100 milligrams once a day.

Use and dose in children must be determined by your healthcare professional. A missed dose should be taken as soon as possible. However, skip the missed dose and go back to your regular dosing schedule if it is almost time for your next dose.

Store the drug in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light. Keep from freezing. Keep out of the reach of children. Dispose any outdated or expired drugs and ask your healthcare professional for the proper disposal of the drugs.

4 Precautions to Take

Before using Tarceva, there are some precautions you must take. Regular visits should be made to your healthcare provider to track your progress and to monitor the effectiveness of the drug. Unwanted effects can be screened using blood tests.

This drug has teratogenic potential and is contraindicated during pregnancy. Birth control should be practiced to prevent the occurrence of pregnant. Inform your healthcare provider immediately if you think you have become pregnant while taking this drug.

Seek advice from your healthcare professional immediately if you experience:

  • Severe or continuing diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Loss of appetite, or vomiting
  • Unexplained shortness of breath
  • A cough, and fever that comes on suddenly
  • Bloody or black, tarry stools
  • Severe stomach pain, or vomiting of blood or material that looks like coffee grounds
  • Dark urine or pale stools
  • Yellow skin or eyes
  • Nausea or vomiting, or upper stomach pain
  • Blistering
  • Peeling, or loosening of the skin
  • Red skin lesions
  • Severe acne or skin rash
  • Sores or ulcers on the skin
  • Fever or chills while you are using this drug

To prevent dry skin and other serious skin reactions, you may use alcohol-free emollient creams, sunscreen, or sun blocking lotions. Consult with your healthcare professional immediately if you experience blurred vision or any vision change, eye pain, or eye irritation during treatment.

You may be referred to an ophthalmologist. Seek advice from your healthcare professional before taking any other prescription or nonprescription drugs, and herbal or vitamin supplements.

5 Potential Side Effects

As with many medications, there are several potential side effects associated with Tarceva. Side effects may vary for each individual and prompt medical attention should be given if they occur.

Seek advice from your healthcare professional immediately if you experience any unusual symptoms such as:

  • Burning, tingling
  • Numbness or pain in the hands, arms, feet, or legs
  • A cough or hoarseness
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficult or labored breathing
  • Fever or chills
  • Lower back or side pain
  • Painful or difficult urination
  • Rash
  • Sensation of pins and needles
  • Stabbing chest pain
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Bloody or black, tarry stools
  • Blurred vision
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Constipation
  • Convulsions
  • Eye irritation or redness
  • Inability to speak
  • Pain or discomfort in the arms, jaw, back, or neck, severe stomach pain
  • Slurred speech
  • Sudden, severe chest pain
  • Sudden, severe headache
  • Sudden, severe weakness in the arm or leg on one side of the body
  • Sweating
  • Vision changes
  • Vomiting of blood or material that looks like coffee grounds
  • Agitation
  • Blistering, peeling or loosening of the skin
  • Bloody nose
  • Burning feeling in the chest or stomach
  • Burning upper abdominal or stomach pain
  • Confusion
  • Dark-colored urine
  • Darkening of the skin
  • Decreased urine output
  • General feeling of tiredness or weakness
  • Headache
  • Increased thirst
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Lethargy
  • Light-colored stools
  • Loss of appetite
  • Mood changes
  • Muscle pain or stiffness
  • Muscle twitching
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Rapid weight gain
  • Red skin lesions
  • often with a purple center
  • Oore throat, sores, ulcers, or white spots in the mouth or on the lips
  • Stomach pain
  • Continuing stupor
  • Swelling of the face, ankles, or hands
  • Tenderness in the stomach area
  • Trouble breathing
  • Unusual tiredness or weakness
  • Yellow eyes or skin

Some side effects may occur that usually do not need medical attention. As your body adjusts to the medicine, the side effects will slowly disappear. Ask your healthcare professional about ways to prevent or reduce some of these side effects.

If any of the following side effects persists or are inconvenient, or if you notice any other effects, or if you have any questions about them, consult with your health care professional. Report any side effects to the FDA hotline at 1-800-FDA-1088.

6 Related Clinical Trials