Generic Name: erlotinib

Pronunciation: N/A

Abbreviation: N/A

Other Market Name: N/A

Drug Class: Targeted Therapy Medications

Company: Genentech/Astellas

Approval Status: Approved

Generic Version Available: No

Experimental Code: N/A

Drug Indication

Tarceva is an EGFR inhibitor approved for the treatment of metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) with EGFR mutations, and as first-line therapy for locally advanced, inoperable or metastatic pancreatic cancer, in combination with gemcitabine chemotherapy.

General Info

Tarceva is a kinase inhibitor that targets epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), a protein that plays a role in cell growth and development of blood vessels that supply tumors.

Studies showed that Tarceva was more likely to lead to tumor shrinkage and increased progression-free survival compared with chemotherapy in people receiving first-line treatment for NSCLC, though it did not improve overall survival. Other trials showed that adding Tarceva to chemotherapy did not improve outcomes for patients without EFGR mutations, and results were mixed for NSCLC maintenance therapy after chemotherapy.

For people with advanced pancreatic cancer, Tarceva plus gemcitabine did not significantly delay disease progression or improve the overall response rate, while the improvement in overall survival was small but statistically significant. Tarceva was first approved in 2004.


Dosing Info:

Tarceva is taken as a pill once daily on an empty stomach.

Side Effects

Common side effects skin rash (especially on the face and neck), fatigue, diarrhea, nausea and loss of appetite. Potential serious side effects may include lung problems, kidney failure, liver toxicity, gastrointestinal perforations, stroke, anemia, eye problems and serious skin reactions. Tarceva may cause fetal harm if used during pregnancy.

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Last Reviewed: August 16, 2019