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Why is this medication prescribed?

Patients who have received at least one other chemotherapy drug and have not improved are treated with erlotinib for specific forms of non-small cell lung cancer that have progressed to neighbouring tissues or to other sections of the body. When pancreatic cancer has spread to surrounding tissues or to other parts of the body and cannot be treated surgically, erlotinib is also used in combination with another drug (gemcitabine [Gemzar]). A group of drugs known as kinase inhibitors includes erlotinib. It operates by obstructing the function of an aberrant protein that instructs cancer cells to proliferate. This aids in reducing or halting the growth of cancerous cells.

How should this medicine be used?

Erlotinib is available as an oral tablet. Once daily, it is typically taken on an empty stomach, at least one hour before or two hours after a meal or snack. Erlotinib should be taken every day at about the same time. Ask your doctor or chemist to explain any instructions on your prescription label that you are unsure about following. Follow the prescription for erlotinib exactly. Never take it in larger or less amounts or more frequently than directed by your doctor.

During your treatment, your doctor may lower the dosage of erlotinib you are taking. The effectiveness of the drug and any negative side effects you encounter will determine this. Discuss your feelings regarding your treatment with your doctor. If you feel fine, keep taking erlotinib. Without consulting your doctor, do not discontinue taking erlotinib.

Other uses for this medicine

Ask your doctor or chemist for more details if you believe this drug should be used for something else.

What special precautions should I follow?

Before taking erlotinib,

  • If you have any allergies, including to erlotinib, other drugs, or any of the substances in erlotinib tablets, notify your doctor right once. Request a list of the ingredients from your chemist.
  • Inform your doctor and chemist about any prescription and over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and dietary supplements you are currently taking or intend to take. Incorporate any of the following: drugs that prevent angiogenesis, like bevacizumab (Avastin); warfarin (Coumadin) is an anticoagulant (often known as a “blood thinner”); some antifungals include itraconazole (Sporanox), ketoconazole (Nizoral), posaconazole (Noxafil), and voriconazole (Vfend); ciprofloxacin (Cipro, Proquin XR); carbamazepine (Tegretol); boceprevir (Victrelis); HIV protease drugs like atazanavir (Reyataz), indinavir (Crixivan), lopinavir/ritonavir (Kaletra), nelfinavir (Viracept), ritonavir (Norvir), and saquinavir (Fortovase, Invirase); clarithromycin (Biaxin); conivaptan (Vaprisol); H2 blockers like ranitidine (Zantac), cimetidine (Tagamet), famotidine (Pepcid), and nizatidine (Axid); benzoyl peroxide (in Epiduo, BenzaClin, Benzamycin, and other acne drugs); midazolam (Versed): nefazodone; oral steroids such dexamethasone (Decadron, Dexone), methylprednisolone (Medrol), and prednisone (Deltasone); nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn); proton pump inhibitors such esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid), omeprazole (Prilosec), pantoprazole (Protonix), and rabeprazole (AcipHex); Phenobarbital (Luminal, Solfoton); Phenytoin (Dilantin); rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane), rifabutin (Mycobutin), rifapentine, and taxane drugs including docetaxel (Taxotere) and paclitaxel (Abraxane, Taxol); troleandomycin (TAO) (not available in the United States), teriflunomide (Aubagio), and telithromycin (Ketek). Your physician might need to adjust the dosage of your drugs or keep a close eye on you for side effects. Tell your doctor about all the drugs you are taking, including any not on this list, as many other drugs may also interact with erlotinib.
  • If you take antacids, take them either several hours prior to or following the time you take erlotinib.
  • Please let your doctor know if you are taking any herbal supplements, especially St. John’s wort.
  • Inform your doctor if you are undergoing treatment for cancer with chemotherapy or radiation therapy, which employs waves of highly energetic particles to kill cancer cells. Additionally, let your doctor know if you now or ever had liver, kidney, or other organ problems, a stomach ulcer, diverticular disease (a disorder in which abnormal pouches grow in the large intestine and may swell), or any other conditions.
  • Inform your doctor if you are expecting a child or if you intend to do so. Pregnancy should be avoided both while taking erlotinib and for at least one month following your last dosage. Consult your doctor about the various birth control options available to you. Call your doctor as soon as you learn you are pregnant. The foetus could be harmed by erlotinib.
  • If you are breastfeeding, let your doctor know. While receiving erlotinib therapy and for up to two weeks following your last dosage, you shouldn’t breastfeed.
  • Inform the surgeon or dentist that you are taking erlotinib before any surgery, including dental surgery.
  • If you use tobacco products, let your doctor know. Smoking cigarettes may make this medication less effective.
  • Plan to limit your time in the sun and to cover up with a hat, additional UV-protective clothes, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Select a sunscreen that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide and has an SPF of at least 15. During your erlotinib treatment, you are more likely to experience a rash if you are exposed to sunlight.
  • Erlotinib may result in rashes and other skin issues, which you should be aware of. Use a gentle moisturiser free of alcohol, wash your skin with a mild soap, and remove cosmetics with a mild cleanser to protect your skin.

What special dietary instructions should I follow?

While using this medication, stay away from grapefruit-related foods and beverages.

Drink small sips of a beverage, such as a sugar-free sports drink frequently throughout the day, consume bland meals like crackers and toast, and stay away from spicy foods to prevent diarrhoea that may be brought on by erlotinib.

What should I do if I forget a dose?

The following day, take the subsequent dose at the usual time. To make up for a missing dose, do not take a second one.

What side effects can this medication cause?

Erlotinib could have negative effects. If any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away, let your doctor know right once:

  • Diarrhea
  • Reduced appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Heartburn
  • Gas
  • Constipation
  • Oral sores
  • Slim down
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Headache
  • Muscle or bone ache
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Tingling, burning, or numbness in the hands or feet
  • Edoema of the lower legs, lower arms, feet, ankles, or hands
  • Skin turning darker
  • Hair fall
  • Alterations in the way one’s hair and nails look

Some adverse effects can be very harmful. Call your doctor right away if you encounter any of these symptoms, or seek emergency care:

  • Rash (which can affect the skin on the face, upper chest, or back and resemble acne)
  • Skin that is flaking, dry, cracked, or blistering
  • Skin that itches, is sensitive, or burns
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Cough
  • Cold or fever
  • On the interior of the eyelid, eyelashes are growing
  • Terrible tummy ache
  • Eyes that are dry, red, stinging, teary, or irritable
  • Distorted vision
  • Light sensitivity in the eyes
  • Chest pressure or discomfort
  • Discomfort in the upper back, neck, or arms
  • Hammering, rapid, or inconsistent heartbeat
  • Slow or challenging speech
  • Unsteadiness or weakness
  • Arm or leg weakness or numbness
  • Abnormal bleeding or bruising
  • Bloody or dark-colored stools
  • Vomit that is reddish-colored or resembles coffee grounds
  • Recessed eyes
  • Mouth ache
  • Less urinations
  • Dark faeces
  • Yellow or pale skin
  • One leg may exhibit redness, warmth, discomfort, tenderness, or swelling

Other adverse effects of erlotinib are possible. If you experience any strange issues while taking this medicine, contact your doctor right away.

You or your doctor can submit a report to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online at or by phone at 1-800-332-1088 if you have a serious side event.

What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?

Keep this medication tightly closed in the original container and out of the reach of children. Keep it at room temperature and out of the bathroom and other places with excessive heat and moisture.

Unused prescriptions must be disposed of carefully to prevent pets, kids, and other people from ingesting them. You should not, however, dispose of this medication in the toilet. Instead, utilizing a medicine take-back program is the easiest approach to get rid of your medication. To find out about take-back programs in your area, speak with your chemist or the garbage/recycling agency in your city. If you do not have access to a take-back program, see the FDA’s Safe Disposal of Medicines website at for additional information.

As many containers (such as weekly pill minders and those for eye drops, creams, patches, and inhalers) are not child-resistant and are simple for young children to open, it is crucial to keep all medications out of sight and out of reach of children. Always lock safety caps and promptly stash medication up and away from young children where it is out of their sight and reach to prevent poisoning.

In case of emergency/overdose

Call the poison control hotline at 1-800-222-1222 in the event of an overdose. Additionally, information can be found online at Call 911 right once if the person has collapsed, experienced a seizure, is having difficulty breathing, or cannot be roused.

Symptoms of overdose may include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Rash

What other information should I know?

Keep all of your appointments with your physician and the lab. To monitor how your body is responding to erlotinib, your doctor may request specific lab tests.

No one else should take your medication. Any queries you may have regarding prescription refills should be directed to your chemist.

You should keep a written record of every medication you take, including any over-the-counter (OTC) items, prescription drugs, and dietary supplements like vitamins and minerals. This list should be brought with you whenever you see a doctor or are admitted to the hospital. You should always have this information with you in case of emergencies.

Brand names

  • Tarceva®
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