A comprehensive list of prescription and over the counter medications.
Tarceva, erlotinib hydrochloride, is a drug used to treat NSCLC (non-small cell lung cancer), pancreatic and other types of cancer. It works on the epidermal growth factor receptor as a reversible tyrosine kinase inhibitor.
Do not use Tarceva if you’re allergic to any of the included ingredients, if you’re also taking a PPI or if you are being treated with platinum-based chemotherapy.
Before you consider using Tarceva, talk with your doctor about any medical conditions that may interact negatively with the drug. If you are pregnant, planning to become pregnant, able to get pregnant or breast feeding speak with your doctor. The same is true if any of the following apply to you:
Tarceva has been shown to increase the rate of survival in lung cancer. This drug combined with chemotherapy improved the survival rate by 19%. It also improved the progression-free survival by 29%, as when compared to results with chemotherapy alone.
Tarceva has also been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use with non-small cell lung cancer or locally advanced cancers where one or more rounds of chemotherapy failed. In 2005 it was also approved for use with advanced or metastatic pancreatic cancer.
In a majority of the patients a rash occurs that looks like acne and affects the neck and face. In fact, it seemed in clinical trials that those who had a moderate to severe rash reaction had a better survival, than those with no to mild reaction.
Other side effects include loss of appetite, fatigue, diarrhea, partial hair loss and, possible, hearing loss. Other rare side effects include interstitial pneumonitis and ingrown hairs.
The only real interaction found was when a compound that induced the liver enzyme CYP3A4, like those found in St John’s Wort, can lower the concentrations of Tarceva.
As with all medications, a Tarceva overdose can occur when not taking the drug as prescribed. Symptoms of an overdose include severe diarrhea and skin rash. If you suspect an overdose, call 911 or visit an Emergency Department of your local hospital. To relieve symptoms hospital staff may pump the patient’s stomach or use activated charcoal.
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