This medication is used to treat lung cancer. Erlotinib is also used with another medication to treat pancreatic cancer. It works by slowing cancer cell growth. It binds to a certain protein (epidermal growth factor receptor-EGFR) in some tumors. Erlotinib belongs to a class of drugs known as kinase inhibitors.
Take this medication by mouth on an empty stomach, at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after a meal, usually once daily, or as directed by your doctor. Do not take erlotinib within 2 hours of taking an antacid (liquid or tablets). Doing so can prevent the absorption of the medication.
Acid-lowering medications for indigestion, heartburn, or ulcers (such as prescription or over-the-counter medications including famotidine, omeprazole) may prevent erlotinib from working. Ask your doctor or pharmacist how to use these medications safely.
Use this medication regularly. Remember to take it at the same time every day. The dosage is based on your medical condition and response to therapy.
Do not increase your dose or take this medication more often without your doctor's approval. Your condition will not improve any faster and the risk of serious side effects may be increased.
Nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, mouth sores, dry skin, eye dryness/irritation, or unusual eyelash growth may occur. Changes in diet such as eating several small meals or limiting activity may help lessen the chance of nausea. If any of these effects persist or worsen, notify your doctor or pharmacist promptly.
Diarrhea is a common side effect. Drink plenty of fluids as directed by your doctor to reduce your risk of losing too much body water. Your doctor may prescribe anti-diarrhea medication (e.g., loperamide) to control your symptoms. Tell your doctor immediately if you develop: severe or persistent diarrhea, signs of dehydration (e.g., dizziness, decreased amount of urine).
Tell your doctor immediately if any of these rare but very serious side effects occur: black stools, vomit that looks like coffee grounds, easy bleeding/bruising, stomach/abdominal pain, yellowing eyes or skin, dark urine, unusual fatigue, signs of infection (e.g., fever, chills, persistent sore throat), eye pain, vision changes.
Seek immediate medical attention if you develop any of these rare but very serious side effects: new or worsening shortness of breath or cough.
A very serious allergic reaction to this drug is unlikely, but seek immediate medical attention if it occurs. Symptoms of a serious allergic reaction may include: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing.
Erlotinib can commonly cause a mild rash that is usually not serious. However, you may not be able to tell it apart from a rare rash that could be a sign of a severe allergic reaction. Therefore, seek immediate medical attention if you develop any rash.
In the US -
Before taking erlotinib, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details.
Use caution with sharp objects like safety razors or nail cutters and avoid activities such as contact sports to lower the chance of getting cut, bruised or injured.
This medicine may increase your risk of stomach bleeding. Limit alcoholic beverages.
Sunlight may worsen any skin reactions that may occur while you are taking this drug. Avoid prolonged sun exposure, tanning booths, and sunlamps. Use a sunscreen and wear protective clothing when outdoors.
This drug is not recommended for use during pregnancy. It may cause harm to an unborn baby or miscarriage. Women of childbearing age should use reliable form(s) of birth control during treatment and for at least 2 weeks following the end of treatment with this drug. Consult your doctor for more details.
It is not known whether this drug passes into breast milk. Because of the potential risk to the infant, breast-feeding while using this drug is not recommended. Consult your doctor before breast-feeding.
See also How to Use section.
Your healthcare professionals (e.g., doctor or pharmacist) may already be aware of any possible drug interactions and may be monitoring you for it. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicine before checking with them first.
Before using this medication, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all prescription and nonprescription/herbal products you may use, especially of: "blood thinners" (e.g., warfarin), corticosteroids (such as prednisone), drugs that lower stomach acid (some examples are H2 blockers such as famotidine/ranitidine, proton pump inhibitors such as omeprazole), drugs affecting liver enzymes that remove erlotinib from your body (such as azole antifungals, including itraconazole; macrolide antibiotics, including erythromycin; cimetidine; rifamycins, including rifabutin; St. John's wort; certain anti-seizure medicines, including carbamazepine; HIV protease inhibitors, including ritonavir).
Check all prescription and nonprescription medicine labels carefully since many contain pain relievers/fever reducers (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs-NSAIDs such as aspirin, celecoxib, ibuprofen, naproxen) which may increase your risk for stomach bleeding while you are taking erlotinib. Ask your pharmacist about the safe use of these products. Low-dose aspirin, as prescribed by your doctor for specific medical reasons such as heart attack or stroke prevention (usually these dosages are 81-325 milligrams per day), should be continued. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details.
Cigarette smoking decreases blood levels of this medication. If you currently smoke, stop smoking while taking this medication. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for details.
See also the How to Use section.
If overdose is suspected, contact a poison control center or emergency room immediately. US residents can call their local poison control center at 1-800-222-1222. Canada residents can call a provincial poison control center.
Do not share this medication with others.
Certain laboratory tests may be performed before giving erlotinib to check for the EGFR protein in your tumor.
Laboratory and/or medical tests (such as kidney/liver function tests) should be performed to monitor your progress or check for side effects. Consult your doctor for more details.
If you miss a dose, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of the next dose, skip the missed dose and resume your usual dosing schedule. Do not double the dose to catch up.
Store at room temperature (77 degrees F or 25 degrees C) away from light and moisture. Brief storage between 59-86 degrees F (15-30 degrees C) is permitted. Do not store in the bathroom. Keep all medicines away from children and pets.
Information last revised April 2014. Copyright(c) 2014 First Databank, Inc.
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