Erlotinib (By mouth)

Introduction

Erlotinib (er-LOE-ti-nib)

Treats pancreatic cancer and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Brand Name(s)

Tarceva

There may be other brand names for this medicine.

When This Medicine Should Not Be Used

Do not use this medicine if you have had an allergic reaction to erlotinib or if you are pregnant.

How to Use This Medicine

Tablet

  • Medicines used to treat cancer are very strong and can have many side effects. Before receiving this medicine, make sure you understand all the risks and benefits. It is important for you to work closely with your doctor during your treatment.
  • Your doctor will tell you how much of this medicine to use and how often. Your dose may need to be changed several times in order to find out what works best for you. Do not use more medicine or use it more often than your doctor tells you to.
  • It is best to take this medicine on an empty stomach.Take the medicine at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after you eat.

If a dose is missed:

  • If you miss a dose or forget to use your medicine, use it as soon as you can. If it is almost time for your next dose, wait until then to use the medicine and skip the missed dose. Do not use extra medicine to make up for a missed dose.

How to Store and Dispose of This Medicine

  • Store the medicine in a closed container at room temperature, away from heat, moisture, and direct light.
  • Ask your pharmacist, doctor, or health caregiver about the best way to dispose of any leftover medicine after you have finished your treatment. You will also need to throw away old medicine after the expiration date has passed.
  • Keep all medicine away from children and never share your medicine with anyone.

Drugs and Foods to Avoid

Ask your doctor or pharmacist before using any other medicine, including over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products.

  • Make sure your doctor knows if you use nefazodone (Serzone®), St John's wort, medicine for seizures (such as carbamazepine, phenobarbital, phenytoin, Dilantin®, or Tegretol®), medicine to treat an infection (such as ciprofloxacin, clarithromycin, itraconazole, ketoconazole, rifabutin, rifampin, rifapentine, telithromycin, troleandomycin, voriconazole, Biaxin®, Cipro®, Mycobutin®, Nizoral®, Priftin®, Rifadin®, Sporanox®, TAO®, or Vfend®), or a stomach medicine (such as omeprazole, ranitidine, Nexium®, Prevacid®, Prilosec®, or Zantac®).
  • Tell your doctor if you also use medicine to treat HIV or AIDS (such as atazanavir, indinavir, nelfinavir, ritonavir, saquinavir, Crixivan®, Fortovase®, Norvir®, Reyataz®, or Viracept®), a blood thinner (such as warfarin, Coumadin®), a steroid medicine (such as dexamethasone, prednisolone, prednisone, or Medrol®), medicine to lower cholesterol (such as atorvastatin, fluvastatin, lovastatin, simvastatin, Lescol®, Lipitor®, Pravachol®, or Zocor®), or an NSAID pain or arthritis medicine (such as aspirin, celecoxib, ibuprofen, naproxen, Advil®, Aleve®, Bextra®, Celebrex®, Ecotrin®, Motrin®, or Vioxx®).
  • Do not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice while you are using this medicine.
  • Avoid smoking cigarettes or using other tobacco products while you are using this medicine.

Warnings While Using This Medicine

  • Your unborn baby could be harmed if you use this medicine while you are pregnant. Use an effective form of birth control to keep from getting pregnant. Tell your doctor right away if you think you have become pregnant while using the medicine.You should continue to use birth control for at least 14 days after you have stopped taking this medicine.
  • Make sure your doctor knows if you are breastfeeding or if you have kidney disease, liver disease, bleeding problems, eye or vision problems, stomach problems, or a history of lung disease or breathing problems, heart attack, or stroke.
  • Cancer medicines can cause severe diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting. Ask your doctor about ways to control these side effects.
  • Call your doctor right away if you have trouble breathing, a cough, and fever that come on suddenly. These could by symptoms of lung problems caused by this medicine.
  • Check with your doctor right away if you have bloody or black, tarry stools, severe stomach pain, or vomiting of blood or material that looks like coffee grounds. These could be symptoms of a serious stomach or bowel problem.
  • Tell your doctor right away if you have dark urine or pale stools, yellow skin or eyes, nausea or vomiting, or upper stomach pain. These could be symptoms of liver problems.
  • Serious allergic reactions can occur with this medicine. Check with your doctor right away if you have blistering or peeling skin, severe skin rash, sores or ulcers on the skin, or fever or chills while you are using this medicine.
  • Check with your doctor right away if your have eye pain, redness, or irritation during or after treatment. Your doctor may want an eye doctor to check your eyes.
  • Your doctor will need to check your blood or urine at regular visits while you are using this medicine. Be sure to keep all appointments.

Possible Side Effects While Using This Medicine

Call your doctor right away if you notice any of these side effects:

  • Allergic reaction: Itching or hives, swelling in your face or hands, swelling or tingling in your mouth or throat, chest tightness, trouble breathing
  • Blistering, peeling, or red skin rash
  • Bloody or black, tarry stools
  • Dark-colored urine or pale stools
  • Eye redness, irritation, or pain
  • Fever, chills, cough, sore throat, and body aches
  • Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, or pain in your upper stomach
  • Numbness or weakness in your arm or leg, or on one side of your body
  • Severe diarrhea, nausea, or vomiting
  • Sudden or severe headache, problems with vision, speech, or walking
  • Swelling in your hands, ankles, or feet
  • Trouble breathing
  • Unusual bleeding or bruising
  • Vomit that looks like coffee grounds
  • Yellow skin or eyes

If you notice these less serious side effects, talk with your doctor:

  • Bone or muscle pain
  • Mild diarrhea, constipation, or stomach pain
  • Mild skin rash or itching
  • Sores or white patches on your lips, mouth, or throat
  • Tiredness
  • Weight loss

If you notice other side effects that you think are caused by this medicine, tell your doctor

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088

Version Info

  • Last Reviewed on 06/12/2013

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This page was last updated: June 18, 2013

         
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