Erlotinib - oral

Patient Medicine Information
Why do I need this medicine?
Erlotinib is used to treat cancer of the lungs.

This medicine is also used together with other medicine to treat cancer of the pancreas.
How do I take this medicine?
Take Erlotinib exactly as directed by your doctor or according to the instructions on the label. Do not take more or less than instructed by your doctor.

This medicine should be taken on an empty stomach at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after a meal. Try to take it at the same time each day.

Erlotinib must be taken regularly for it to be effective. Continue taking this medicine even when you feel better. Do not stop taking it unless instructed by the doctor.
What should I do if I have forgotten to take this medicine?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and return to your normal dosing schedule.

DO NOT double a dose under any circumstances.

If you often forget to take your medicine, let your doctor and pharmacist know.
When should I not use this medicine?
Do not breastfeed while you are being treated with this medicine and for at least 2 weeks after stopping the therapy.
What should I take note of while taking this medicine?
Inform your doctor if you have the following conditions:
  • history of stomach ulcer or other stomach diseases
  • previous radiotherapy
  • lung disease or infection
  • eye problems e.g. eye infection, severe dry eye, eye inflammation
  • liver disease
  • kidney disease
Let your doctor know if you are pregnant. It is important that you do not get pregnant while being treated with Erlotinib. You may wish to discuss birth control methods with your doctor or pharmacist.

If you smoke, you should try to quit. Smoking is harmful to your blood vessels and overall health. It has been shown that smoking will decrease the amount of medicine in the blood. Speak to your doctor or pharmacist about ways to kick your smoking habit.

Some genetic traits can affect your response to this medicine. Individuals with alterations of the EGFR gene may have a higher response to Erlotinib therapy compared to standard chemotherapy. Although not routinely done, your doctor may advise you to take genetic testing to check if this medicine is best suited for you. If you know you have these gene type, inform your doctor.

Do not inhale nor let the tablet get in contact with your eyes or skin.

Make sure that you wear gloves when handling the tablet. Do not touch it with your bare hands. Wash your hands thoroughly after. Do not reuse the gloves.

Why is it important to keep my appointments with the doctor?

Keep your appointments with your doctor. Your doctor needs to monitor your condition and check your response to the medication regularly.
  • Routine tests (e.g. lungs, liver or kidney function, electrolyte levels, eye examination) may be done while you are being treated with this medicine.
  • Regular monitoring for signs of dehydration may also be needed.
Your doctor will advise you about how often you will need to have these tests.
What side effects could I experience?
Erlotinib may cause any of the following side effects: headache, tiredness, fever, nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, mouth sore, stomach pain or wind, indigestion, loss of appetite, chills, tingling or prickling sensation, cough, rash, itching, dry skin, hair loss, pimple, cracked skin, nail changes, dryness of the eye, sore eyes, redness of the eye, eye pain, flu-like illness, and nosebleed.

Some side effects may need immediate medical help. Alert your doctor quickly if you experience any of the following:
  • shortness of breath, chest pain, fast or irregular heartbeat
  • dry, hacking cough, weight loss, bulb-like development of fingertips and nails
  • pass out bloody stools or black as tar and vomiting blood, or ground coffee-like material
  • reduced amount of urine, excessive drowsiness, swelling of the ankles, legs or feet
  • yellowing of the skin or eyes, dark-coloured urine
  • rashes with peeling of the skin or blistering of the lips, mouth or eyes accompanied by fever
Inform your doctor if any of these side effects do not go away or are severe, or if you experience other side effects.
Can I take this with other medicines?
Inform your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking any of these medicines:
  • blood-thinning medicines e.g. warfarin
  • medicine for heart disease e.g. verapamil
  • medicines to treat fungal infections e.g. ketoconazole, voriconazole
  • certain antibiotics e.g. clarithromycin, ciprofloxacin, erythromycin
  • medicine to treat TB (lung infection known as tuberculosis) e.g. rifampicin
  • medicines for epilepsy (fits or seizures) e.g. phenobarbital, phenytoin, carbamazepine
  • medicines for HIV infection e.g. ritonavir, saquinavir
  • cholesterol-lowering medicines e.g. simvastatin, atorvastatin
  • medicine used in organ transplant or certain immune disorders e.g. ciclosporin, teriflunomide
  • medicine for mood disorder e.g. fluvoxamine
  • medicines for cancer e.g. carboplatin, paclitaxel, pazopanib, lenalidomide
  • anti-inflammatory medicines e.g. prednisolone
  • NSAIDs (medicines for pain and inflammation) e.g. ibuprofen
  • St. John’s wort (herbal medicine used to treat depression)
This list does not include all medicines that may interact with Erlotinib.

Erlotinib should not be taken with antacids or other gastric medicines (e.g. ranitidine), as these could reduce the effectiveness of this medicine. If you must take antacids or other gastric medicines, there should be at least 2 hours interval between the gastric medicine and Erlotinib.

Always notify your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking any other medicines, including herbal tonics such as traditional Chinese medicines, supplements and medicines that you buy without a prescription.
What special dietary instructions should I follow?
Avoid alcohol.

Avoid excessive consumption of grapefruit or grapefruit juice (more than 1 litre a day).
How should I store this medicine?
Store in a cool, dry place away from the reach of children.

Medicines must not be used past the expiry date.

As this is a cancer medicine, always return any unused or expired tablets to the clinic, hospital, or pharmacy for disposal.
This information is independently developed by MIMS based on erlotinib - oral and is provided for your reference only. It is not a replacement for and should only be used in conjunction with full consultation with a licensed healthcare professional, the information provided by your pharmacist and/or the manufacturer of the medication. It may not contain all the available information you require and cannot substitute professional medical care, nor does it take into account all individual circumstances. Although great effort has been made to ensure content accuracy, we shall not be held responsible or liable for any claims or damages arising from the use or misuse of the information contained herein, its contents or omissions, or otherwise. Copyright © 2023 MIMS. All rights reserved. Powered by
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