Generic Tarceva (erlotinib) is a cancer medicine that interferes with the growth of cancer cells and slows their spread in the body. Erlotinib is used to treat non-small cell lung cancer or pancreatic cancer that has spread to other parts of the body (metastatic). Erlotinib is usually given after other cancer medicines have been tried without success.
What is this medicine?
ERLOTINIB is a cancer medicine that interferes with the growth of cancer cells and slows their spread in the body. Erlotinib is used to treat non-small cell lung cancer or pancreatic cancer that has spread to other parts of the body (metastatic). Erlotinib is usually given after other cancer medicines have been tried without success.
What should my health care professional know before I take this medicine?
You should not take erlotinib if you are allergic to it.
To make sure erlotinib is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:
lung or breathing problems (other than lung cancer);
a history of stomach bleeding;
if you are dehydrated;
if you smoke; or
if you also take warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven).
Do not take erlotinib if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby. Use effective birth control while you are taking this medication and for at least 2 weeks after your treatment ends.
It is not known whether erlotinib passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while taking erlotinib.
How should I take this medicine?
Follow all directions on your prescription label. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose to make sure you get the best results. Do not take this medicine in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.
Take erlotinib on an empty stomach, at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after eating.
You may need frequent medical tests to be sure this medicine is not causing harmful effects. Your cancer treatments may be delayed based on the results of these tests.
What may interact with this medicine?
Many drugs can interact with erlotinib. This includes prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide. Tell your doctor about all medicines you use, and those you start or stop using during your treatment with erlotinib. Give a list of all your medicines to any healthcare provider who treats you.
What should I watch for while taking this medicine?
Avoid taking an antacid within several hours before or after you take erlotinib. Ask a doctor or pharmacist before taking other stomach medicines such as cimetidine (Tagamet) or ranitidine (Zantac).
Avoid exposure to sunlight or tanning beds. Erlotinib can cause skin rash, dryness, or other irritation. Wear protective clothing and use sunscreen (SPF 30 or higher) when you are outdoors.
Avoid using skin products that can cause dryness or irritation, such as acne medications, harsh soaps or skin cleansers, or skin products that contain alcohol.
Avoid smoking. It can make erlotinib less effective.
Grapefruit and grapefruit juice may interact with erlotinib and lead to unwanted side effects. Avoid the use of grapefruit products while taking erlotinib.
Avoid taking an herbal supplement containing St. John's wort at the same time you are taking erlotinib.
This medicine can pass into body fluids (urine, feces, vomit). Caregivers should wear rubber gloves while cleaning up a patient's body fluids, handling contaminated trash or laundry or changing diapers. Wash hands before and after removing gloves. Wash soiled clothing and linens separately from other laundry.
What side effects may I notice from this medicine?
Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.
Stop using erlotinib and call your doctor at once if you have:
sudden chest pain or discomfort, wheezing, dry cough, feeling short of breath;
severe stomach pain, fever, chills, coughing up blood;
severe ongoing nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea;
eye pain or irritation, vision problems;
heart attack symptoms--chest pain or pressure, pain spreading to your jaw or shoulder, nausea, sweating;
signs of a stroke--sudden numbness or weakness (especially on one side of the body), sudden severe headache, slurred speech, problems with vision or balance;
kidney or liver problems--little or no urinating; swelling, rapid weight gain (especially in your face and midsection); confusion, nausea, vomiting, dark urine, or jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes); or
severe skin reaction--fever, sore throat, swelling in your face or tongue, burning in your eyes, skin pain, followed by a red or purple skin rash that spreads (especially in the face or upper body) and causes blistering and peeling.
Common side effects may include:
nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, loss of appetite;
cough, trouble breathing;
weakness, tired feeling.
Where can I keep my medicine?
Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.