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Medications and Drugs

Brand Names: Tarceva

Generic Name: erlotinib (Pronunciation: er LOE ti nib)

What is erlotinib (Tarceva)?

Erlotinib is a cancer medication 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. Erlotinib is also used in combination with other cancer medicine to treat pancreatic cancer.

Erlotinib may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Tarceva 100 mg

round, white, imprinted with T 100

What are the possible side effects of erlotinib (Tarceva)?

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Stop taking erlotinib 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 side effects may include:

  • mild stomach upset, nausea, or diarrhea;
  • weight loss;
  • acne, dry skin; or
  • tired feeling.

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.

What is the most important information I should know about erlotinib (Tarceva)?

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.

Before taking erlotinib, 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 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 erlotinib. Visit your doctor regularly.

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.

Stop taking erlotinib 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 erlotinib. 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.

Report Problems to the Food and Drug Administration

You are encouraged to report negative side effects of prescription drugs to the FDA. Visit the FDA MedWatch website or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

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