Healthcare providers prescribe Tarceva for advanced cases of pancreatic cancer or lung cancer. This medication comes in the form of a tablet and is taken once a day. Common side effects include diarrhea, rash, and fatigue. When used for prostate cancer, Tarceva is not meant to be taken on its own, but rather combined with gemcitabine.
Tarceva is made by Schwarz Pharma Manufacturing for OSI Pharmaceuticals, Inc. It is distributed by Genentech USA, Inc.
How Does It Work?
Kinases are proteins in the body that help regulate cell growth, among other things. Tarceva works by blocking the action of a specific tyrosine kinase known as epidermal growth factor receptor 1 (EGFR). EGFR tells cancer cells to grow and divide. Therefore, by blocking the action of EGFR, Tarceva can slow down or stop the growth of cancer cells.
Clinical Effects of Tarceva
In clinical studies, Tarceva has been shown to improve survival in people with NSCLC and pancreatic cancer. In one study, 31 percent of people who took Tarceva for advanced NSCLC were still alive after one year of treatment, compared with 22 percent of people with NSCLC who took a placebo (a "sugar" pill with no active ingredients).
In another study involving people with advanced cancer of the pancreas, 23 percent of those taking Tarceva plus gemcitabine were still living one year later, compared with 19 percent of those who just took gemcitabine.
Written by/reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD;Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last reviewed by: KristiMonson, PharmD;
List of references (click here):
Tarceva [package insert]. Farmingdale, NY: OSI Pharmaceuticals, LLC;2013 May.
Tarceva Web site. Available at: http://www.tarceva.com/. Accessed October 23, 2011.
Food and Drug Administration, Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. Electronic orange book: approved drug products with therapeutic equivalence evaluations. FDA Web site. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/cder/ob/. Accessed October 22, 2011.
Briggs GG, Freeman RK, Yaffe SJ. Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation. 8th ed. Philadelphia (PA): Lippincott Williams & Wilkins;2008.
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