Tarceva

Tarceva treats lung and pancreatic cancer. To prevent diarrhea, drink small sips of liquids (sugar-free sports drink) throughout the day, eat mild foods such as crackers, and avoid spicy foods.

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Tarceva Cautionary Labels

Uses of Tarceva

Reviewed: October 25, 2012
Updated: 

Tarceva is a prescription medication used to treat non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that has spread to nearby tissues or to other parts of the body in patients. It is used when other treatments have not succeeded. Tarceva is also used to treat pancreatic cancer that has spread to nearby tissues or to other parts of the body.

This medication may be prescribed for other uses. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Tarceva Drug Class

Tarceva is part of the drug class:

Side Effects of Tarceva

Common side effects of Tarceva include the following:

  • rash
  • diarrhea
  • loss of appetite
  • fatigue
  • difficulty breathing
  • cough
  • nausea
  • vomiting

This is not a complete list of this medication’s side effects. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Tell your doctor if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.

Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Tarceva Interactions

Tell your doctor about all the medicines you take, including prescription and non-prescription medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Especially tell your doctor if you take:

  • angiogenesis inhibitors such as bevacizumab (Avastin)
  • anticoagulants ('blood thinners') such as warfarin (Coumadin)
  • certain antifungals such as itraconazole (Sporanox), ketoconazole (Nizoral), and voriconazole (Vfend)
  • carbamazepine (Tegretol)
  • ciprofloxacin (Cipro, Proquin XR)
  • clarithromycin (Biaxin)
  • HIV protease inhibitors such as atazanavir (Reyataz), indinavir (Crixivan), nelfinavir (Viracept), ritonavir (Norvir), and saquinavir (Fortovase, Invirase)
  • H2 blockers such as cimetidine (Tagamet), famotidine (Pepcid), nizatidine (Axid), and ranitidine (Zantac)
  • medications for acne such as benzoyl peroxide (in Epiduo, in BenzaClin, in Benzamycin, others)
  • midazolam (Versed)
  • nefazodone
  • nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) and naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn)
  • oral steroids such as dexamethasone (Decadron, Dexone), methylprednisolone (Medrol), and prednisone (Deltasone)
  • phenobarbital (Luminal, Solfoton)
  • phenytoin (Dilantin)
  • proton pump inhibitors such as esomeprazole (Nexium), lansoprazole (Prevacid), omeprazole (Prilosec), pantoprazole (Protonix), and rabeprazole (AcipHex)
  • rifabutin (Mycobutin)
  • rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane)
  • rifapentine
  • taxane medications for cancer such as docetaxel (Taxotere) and paclitaxel (Abraxane, Taxol
  • telithromycin (Ketek)
  • cigarette smoke
  • St. John's wort

This is not a complete list of all drug interactions. Ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.

Tarceva Precautions

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms, call your doctor immediately:

  • rash (may look like acne and may affect the skin on the face, upper chest, or back)
  • blistering, peeling, dry, or cracked skin
  • itching, tenderness, or burning of the skin
  • shortness of breath
  • cough
  • fever or chills
  • growth of eyelashes on the inside of the eyelid
  • dry, red, painful, or irritated eyes
  • blurred vision
  • chest pain or pressure
  • pain in the arms, neck, or upper back
  • rapid, irregular, or pounding heartbeat
  • slow or difficult speech
  • dizziness or faintness
  • weakness or numbness of an arm or leg
  • unusual bruising or bleeding
  • black and tarry or bloody stools
  • vomit that is bloody or looks like coffee grounds
  • sunken eyes
  • dry mouth
  • decreased urination
  • dark urine
  • pale or yellow skin
  • redness, warmth, pain, tenderness, or swelling in one leg

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

Tarceva may cause fatigue. Do not drive or operate heavy machinery until you know how erlotinib will affect you.

Tarceva Food Interactions

Grapefruit and grapefruit juice may interact with this medication and can lead to potentially dangerous effects. Discuss the use of grapefruit products with your doctor.

Inform MD

Before taking Tarceva,

  • tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to Tarceva, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in Tarceva tablets
  • tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, and nutritional supplements you are taking or plan to take
  • if you are taking antacids, take them several hours before or several hours after you take Tarceva 
  • tell your doctor what herbal products you are taking, especially St. John's wort
  • tell your doctor if you are being treated or have recently been treated with chemotherapy or radiation therapy (treatment for cancer that uses waves of high energy particles to kill cancer cells). Also tell your doctor if you have or have ever had lung disease or infection, stomach ulcers, diverticular disease (condition in which abnormal pouches form in the large intestine and may become inflamed), or liver or kidney disease.
  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. You should not become pregnant while you are taking Tarcevaand for at least 2 weeks after your treatment. Talk to your doctor about birth control methods that you can use during your treatment. If you become pregnant while taking Tarceva, call your doctor immediately. Tarceva  may harm the fetus (unborn baby).
  • tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding
  • if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking Tarceva
  • tell your doctor if you use tobacco products. Cigarette smoking may decrease the effectiveness of this medication.
  • plan to avoid unnecessary or prolonged exposure to sunlight and to wear a hat, other protective clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Choose a sunscreen that has a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 and contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. Exposure to sunlight increases the risk that you will develop a rash during your treatment with Tarceva.
  • you should know that Tarceva may cause rashes and other skin problems. To protect your skin, use a mild alcohol-free moisturizer, wash your skin with mild soap, and remove cosmetics with a mild cleanser.

Tarceva and Pregnancy

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant.

The FDA categorizes medications based on safety for use during pregnancy. Five categories - A, B, C, D, and X, are used to classify the possible risks to an unborn baby when a medication is taken during pregnancy.

This medication falls into category D.  You should not become pregnant while you are taking Tarceva and for at least 2 weeks after your treatment. Talk to your doctor about birth control methods that you can use during your treatment. If you become pregnant while taking Tarceva, call your doctor immediately. Tarceva may harm the fetus (unborn baby).

Tarceva and Lactation

Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed.

It is not known if Tarceva crosses into human milk. Because many medications can cross into human milk and because of the possibility for serious adverse reactions in nursing infants with use of this medication, a choice should be made whether to stop nursing or stop the use of this medication. Your doctor and you will decide if the benefits outweigh the risk of using this medication.

Tarceva Usage

Tarceva comes as a tablet to take by mouth. It is usually taken on an empty stomach once a day, at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after eating a meal or snack. Take Tarceva at around the same time every day.

To prevent diarrhea that may be caused by Tarcev:

  • drink small sips of a liquid such as a sugar-free sports drink often throughout the day
  • eat mild foods such as crackers and toast
  • avoid spicy foods

It is recommended that you should stop smoking if prescribed Tarceva. The dose may need to be adjusted if you smoke while taking Tarceva.

Tarceva Dosage

Take this medication exactly as prescribed by your doctor. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully.

The dose your doctor recommends may be based on the following:

  • the condition being treated
  • other medical conditions you have
  • other medications you are taking
  • how you respond to this medication
  • your weight
  • your height
  • your age
  • your gender

The recommended daily dose of Tarceva for non-small cell lung cancer is 150 mg taken on an empty stomach (or at least one 1 before or 2 hours after the ingestion of food).

The recommended daily dose of Tarceva for pancreatic cancer is 100 mg taken on an empty stomach (or at least one 1 before or 2 hours after the ingestion of food).

 

Tarceva Overdose

If you take too much this medication, call your healthcare provider or local Poison Control Center, or seek emergency medical attention right away.

If this medication is administered by a healthcare provider in a medical setting, it is unlikely that an overdose will occur. However, if overdose is suspected, seek emergency medical attention.
 

Other Requirements

  • Store at room temperature.
  • Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor may order certain lab tests to check your body's response to Tarceva.
  • Keep this and all other medications out of the reach of children.