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  • Generic Name: (erlotinib)
    Other Brands: N/A
  • Last Revised: 07/2016
    • What is this medication and its most common uses?

      Tarceva is a medicine used to treat certain people with non-small cell lung cancer that has spread to nearby tissues or to other parts of the body. Tarceva is also used in combination with another medicine to treat pancreatic cancer that has spread to nearby tissues or to other parts of the body.

    • What should I know when beginning and continuing on this medication?

      How does this medication work?

      Tarceva works by blocking the action of a protein that signals cancer cells to multiply, thereby helping to slow or stop the spread of cancer cells.

      What are the beneficial effects of this medication and when should I begin to have results?

      What: In studies, treatment with Tarceva demonstrated that people lived longer without their disease getting worse.

      When: Everyone responds differently to treatment, so try to be patient and follow your healthcare provider's instructions. It is important that you take Tarceva exactly as your healthcare provider has prescribed.

      How do I know it is working?

      Your healthcare provider may order tests regularly to check how well this medication is working.

    • What are the possible side effects of this medication?

      The following is not a full list of side effects. Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, tell your healthcare provider as soon as possible. Only your healthcare provider can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking this medication.

      More common side effects may include: rash, diarrhea, loss of appetite, tiredness, shortness of breath, cough, nausea, vomiting.

      Less common side effects may include:

      Lung problems called interstitial lung disease, with symptoms such as shortness of breath, cough, and fever.

      Stomach and intestinal problems called gastrointestinal (GI) perforation (a hole that develops in your stomach or intestine). People may be at a higher risk for GI perforation if they have a history of ulcers or other stomach disease or if they are taking medicines including those that may help block the growth of blood vessels; steroids; nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs); and certain chemotherapies.

      Skin conditions, including blistering and skin peeling. This may result in other serious, life-threatening skin disorders.

      Eye disorders, such as dry eyes, unusual eyelash growth, or swelling of the cornea (clear coating of the eyeball).

      Harm to your unborn baby if taken during pregnancy. Tell your healthcare provider if you have become or think you may be pregnant.

      Tarceva may also cause kidney and liver problems, heart attack, stroke, or blood, bleeding, and clotting problems.

    • Who should not take this medication?

      Do not take Tarceva if you are allergic to it or any of its ingredients.

    • What should I tell my healthcare provider before I take the first dose of this medication?

      Tell your healthcare provider about all prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal medications you are taking before beginning treatment with Tarceva. Also, talk to your healthcare provider about your complete medical history, especially if you have lung or breathing problems, kidney or liver problems, or a history of stomach ulcers or other stomach problems; smoke; are pregnant; plan to become pregnant; or are breastfeeding.

    • What is the usual dosage?

      The information below is based on the dosage guidelines your healthcare provider uses. Depending on your condition and medical history, your healthcare provider may prescribe a different regimen. Do not change the dosage or stop taking your medication without your healthcare provider's approval.

      Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer

      Adults: The recommended dose is 150 milligrams (mg) once a day.

      Pancreatic Cancer

      Adults: The recommended dose is 100 mg once a day.

      If you are taking certain other medicines, your healthcare provider may adjust your dose appropriately.

    • How should I take this medication?

      Take Tarceva exactly as prescribed by your healthcare provider. Do not change your dose or stop taking Tarceva without first talking to your healthcare provider.

      Take Tarceva on an empty stomach (at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after eating).

      If you are taking Tarceva with certain medicines to treat heartburn or acid reflux (such as ranitidine), take Tarceva 10 hours after the heartburn medicine and at least 2 hours before the next dose of the heartburn medicine.

      While taking Tarceva, you may want to use alcohol-free lotions and sunscreens or avoid being out in the sun.

    • What should I avoid while taking this medication?

      Do not smoke while you are taking Tarceva. If you continue to smoke, your treatment with Tarceva may need to be adjusted.

      Do not eat grapefruit or drink grapefruit juice without first talking with your healthcare provider.

    • What are the possible food and drug interactions associated with this medication?

      If Tarceva is taken with certain other drugs, the effects of either could be increased, decreased, or altered. Tarceva may interact with numerous medications. Therefore, it is very important that you tell your healthcare provider about any other medications you are taking.

    • May I receive this medication if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

      Tarceva can harm your unborn baby if taken during pregnancy. Women who can become pregnant should use effective birth control during treatment and for at least 2 weeks after the last dose of Tarceva. The effects of Tarceva during breastfeeding are unknown. Do not breastfeed while you are taking Tarceva. Tell your healthcare provider immediately if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding.

    • What should I do if I miss a dose of this medication?

      If you miss a dose of Tarceva, take it as soon as you remember. However, if it is almost time for your next dose, skip the one you missed and return to your regular dosing schedule. Do not take two doses at once.

    • How should I store this medication?

      Store at room temperature.

    • Who should I contact in case of emergency or overdose?
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      In the event of a medical emergency call your doctor or 9-1-1 immediately. In the event of overdose, call your doctor or poison control for further instructions.
      National Poison Control#: Call 1-800-222-1222

      This PDR+ drug information has been developed by the Physicians’ Desk Reference Network (PDRN), a source of medication information trusted by doctors for over 65 years.

      This monograph summarizes the most important information about your medication and does not cover all the information you may need. If you have any questions or concerns or want to learn more about your medication, ask your healthcare provider; he/she will be able to provide answers to your questions. This medication should only be used by the patient for whom it was prescribed and should not be shared with other people.
    • Additional patient resources.
      back to top Use your PDR® Pharmacy Discount Card when you or a family member fills a prescription and ask for your PDR® Discount every
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