Generic Name: erlotinib (er LOE ti nib)
Brand Names: Tarceva
What is Tarceva?
Tarceva (erlotinib) is a cancer medication that interferes with the growth of cancer cells and slows their spread in the body.
Tarceva is used to treat non-small cell lung cancer. Tarceva is also used in combination with other cancer medicine to treat pancreatic cancer.
Tarceva may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.
Do not take Tarceva 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.
Before taking Tarceva, tell your doctor if you have lung problems (other than lung cancer), kidney or liver disease, if you are dehydrated, or if you smoke.
To be sure Tarceva is helping your condition and not causing harmful effects, your blood will need to be tested often. This will help your doctor determine how long to treat you with Tarceva. Visit your doctor regularly.
Avoid exposure to sunlight or tanning beds. Tarceva 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.
Stop taking Tarceva and call your doctor at once if you have new or worsening lung problems (chest pain, dry cough with fever, wheezing, feeling short of breath), chest pain spreading to the arm or shoulder, sudden numbness or weakness, eye pain or irritation, rapid weight gain, urinating less than usual or not at all, severe or ongoing diarrhea or vomiting, coughing up blood, black or bloody stools, pale skin, easy bruising or bleeding, mouth sores, or a severe skin rash.
There are many other drugs that can interact with Tarceva. Tell your doctor about all medications you use. Keep a list of all your medicines and show it to any healthcare provider who treats you.
Before taking this medicine
You should not take Tarceva if you are allergic to erlotinib.
If you have any of these other conditions, you may need a dose adjustment or special tests:
lung or breathing problems (other than lung cancer);
if you are dehydrated; or
if you smoke.
FDA pregnancy category D. Do not take Tarceva if you are pregnant. It could harm the unborn baby. Use effective birth control while you are taking Tarceva 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 Tarceva.
See also: Pregnancy and breastfeeding warnings (in more detail)
How should I take Tarceva?
Take Tarceva exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Do not take in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended. Follow the directions on your prescription label.
Your doctor may occasionally change your dose to make sure you get the best results.
Take Tarceva on an empty stomach, at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after eating.
Do not crush a Tarceva tablet. The medicine from a crushed or broken pill can be dangerous if it gets on your skin. If this occurs, wash your skin with soap and water and rinse thoroughly.
To be sure this medication is helping your condition and not causing harmful effects, your blood will need to be tested often. This will help your doctor determine how long to treat you with Tarceva. Visit your doctor regularly.
Store Tarceva at room temperature away from moisture and heat.
What happens if I miss a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember (take only on an empty stomach). Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.
What happens if I overdose?
Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.
Overdose symptoms may include severe diarrhea or severe skin rash.
What should I avoid?
Avoid taking an antacid within several hours before or after you take Tarceva.
Avoid exposure to sunlight or tanning beds. Tarceva 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 Tarceva less effective.
Grapefruit and grapefruit juice may interact with Tarceva and lead to unwanted side effects. Discuss the use of grapefruit products with your doctor.
Tarceva side effects
Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction to Tarceva: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat. Stop taking Tarceva and call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:
new or worsening lung problems such as chest pain, dry cough with fever, wheezing, rapid breathing, feeling short of breath;
chest pain spreading to the arm or shoulder, nausea, sweating, general ill feeling;
sudden numbness or weakness, sudden severe headache, or problems with vision, speech, or balance;
eye pain, redness, or irritation;
confusion, mood changes, increased thirst, urinating less than usual or not at all;
swelling, rapid weight gain;
severe or ongoing diarrhea, vomiting, or loss of appetite;
black, bloody, or tarry stools;
coughing up blood or vomit that looks like coffee grounds;
pale or yellowed skin, easy bruising, unusual bleeding (nose, mouth, vagina, or rectum), purple or red pinpoint spots under your skin;
white patches or sores inside your mouth or on your lips;
fever, sore throat, and headache with a severe blistering, peeling, and red skin rash;
the first sign of any type of skin rash, no matter how mild; or
nausea, upper stomach pain, itching, dark urine, clay-colored stools, jaundice (yellowing of the skin or eyes).
Less serious Tarceva side effects may include:
mild stomach upset, nausea, or diarrhea;
acne, dry skin; or
This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
See also: Side effects (in more detail)
What other drugs will affect Tarceva?
Many drugs can interact with Tarceva. Below is just a partial list. Tell your doctor if you are using:
dexamethasone (Decadron, Hexadrol);
isoniazid (for treating tuberculosis);
St. John's wort;
steroid medicine (prednisone and others);
an antibiotic such as ciprofloxacin (Cipro), clarithromycin (Biaxin), erythromycin (E.E.S., EryPed, Ery-Tab, Erythrocin, Pediazole), rifabutin (Mycobutin), rifampin (Rifadin, Rifater, Rifamate), rifapentine (Priftin), or telithromycin (Ketek);
an antidepressant such as nefazodone;
antifungal medication such as itraconazole (Sporanox), ketoconazole (Nizoral), or voriconazole (Vfend);
a barbiturate such as butabarbital (Butisol), secobarbital (Seconal), pentobarbital (Nembutal), or phenobarbital (Solfoton);
a blood thinner such as warfarin (Coumadin, Jantoven);
heart or blood pressure medication such as nicardipine (Cardene) or quinidine (Quin-G);
HIV/AIDS medicine such as atazanavir (Reyataz), delavirdine (Rescriptor), efavirenz (Sustiva), etravirine (Intelence), fosamprenavir (Lexiva), indinavir (Crixivan), nelfinavir (Viracept), nevirapine (Viramune), ritonavir (Kaletra, Norvir), or saquinavir (Invirase);
medicines to treat narcolepsy, such as armodafinil (Nuvigil) or modafinil (Progivil);
NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs) such as aspirin, ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn, Naprelan, Treximet), celecoxib (Celebrex), diclofenac (Arthrotec, Cambia, Cataflam, Voltaren, Flector Patch, Pennsaid, Solareze), indomethacin (Indocin), meloxicam (Mobic), and others; or
seizure medication such as carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Tegretol), felbamate (Felbatol), oxcarbazepine (Trileptal), phenytoin (Dilantin), or primidone (Mysoline).
This list is not complete and there are many other drugs that can interact with Tarceva. Tell your doctor about all medications you use. This includes prescription, over-the-counter, vitamin, and herbal products. Do not start a new medication without telling your doctor. Keep a list of all your medicines and show it to any healthcare provider who treats you.
More about Tarceva (erlotinib)
Related treatment guides
Where can I get more information?
- Your pharmacist can provide more information about Tarceva.
- Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that the information provided is accurate, up-to-date, and complete, but no guarantee is made to that effect. Drug information contained herein may be time sensitive. Multum's drug information is an informational resource designed to assist licensed healthcare practitioners in caring for their patients and/or to serve consumers viewing this service as a supplement to, and not a substitute for, the expertise, skill, knowledge and judgment of healthcare practitioners. The absence of a warning for a given drug or drug combination in no way should be construed to indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective or appropriate for any given patient. The information contained herein is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects.
Copyright 1996-2015 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 5.02. Revision Date: 2012-08-28, 4:41:44 PM.