Lung Cancer Home > Iressa

People who have non-small cell lung cancer may benefit from treatment with Iressa. This prescription medication comes as a tablet that is taken once daily. It is approved for use when other chemotherapy treatment has been tried and failed. Iressa works by preventing the growth and multiplication of cancer cells. Side effects include diarrhea, dry skin, and nausea.

What Is Iressa?

Iressa® (gefitinib) is a prescription medication approved to treat a certain type of lung cancer known as non-small cell lung cancer. It is used after other treatments have been tried but failed to adequately control the cancer. It belongs to a broad group of medicines known as tyrosine kinase inhibitors. Specifically, it is an epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitor.
 
Iressa has been studied in combination with standard chemotherapy for the first-line treatment of non-small cell lung cancer. First-line treatment is treatment that is recommended for initial use. Iressa has also been studied in people whose non-small cell lung cancer worsened despite other treatment, as well as in people who could not tolerate other treatment. However, these studies showed that Iressa did not help people with non-small cell lung cancer live longer.
 
Other treatments have been shown to help people with non-small cell lung cancer live longer, including other EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors, such as erlotinib (Tarceva®), and these other treatments should be tried before Iressa. For this reason, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) limited the use of Iressa to people who were already taking the drug and were benefiting from it, or for those who had previously benefited from Iressa treatment.
 
The manufacturer of Iressa stopped making the medication for use in the United States in 2011, and it is no longer available in the United States.
 
(Click Iressa Uses for more information on this topic, including possible off-label uses.)
 
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;
Last updated/reviewed:
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