What is Erlotinib?

Erlotinib is an anti-cancer medication prescribed to treat lung cancer and pancreatic cancer. This medication is advised to use under medical supervision only. Not advised to use in patients less than 18 years old.

Type of drug

Erlotinib belongs to signal transduction inhibitor group of medicine which is known as epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitor in medical terminology.

Use in brief

Erlotinib is prescribed to use in the treatment of lung cancer and pancreatic cancer.


Erlotinib itself is an active ingredient in several branded medicine.


Erlotinib is prescribed in the treatment of below mentioned health conditions:

  • The treatment of patients with metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) whose tumours have epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)
  • Pancreatic Cancer (In this condition, Erlotinib is prescribed in combination with gemcitabine)

How does Erlotinib work?

This medicine basically belongs to anti-cancer type of drugs and works by blocking Epidermal growth factor receptors (EGFR) that trigger the multiplication of cancer causing cells and helps to slow down or stop the spread of cancer causing cells.

Read more about similar medications used to treat lung cancer

How to Take Erlotinib?

Form of medicine – Erlotinib medicine is available in the form of tablets

When and How to use

Follow the instructions as mentioned in the prescription. Generally used after food. Never crush or chew the tablet but swallow the whole medicine along with some water or liquids. In general this medicine is advised to use with food.

Common Dosage

Erlotinib 150 mg tablet is usually prescribed on an empty stomach, i.e., at least one hour before or two hours after the ingestion of food.

Erlotinib 100mg is prescribed once daily on empty stomach for pancreatic cancer.            

However dosage depends on the severity of the health condition been treated and is decided by the doctor. Follow the instruction by your doctor. Never miss a dose or take excess dose. Consult your doctor immediately if any excess dosage happens by mistake.

When to Avoid Erlotinib?

Erlotinib is not advised to use in some health conditions such as:

  • Allergic reaction towards the Erlotinib medication
  • Pregnancy
  • Breastfeeding
  • Safety and efficacy of Erlotinib have not been established in patients with NSCLC whose tumours have other EGFR mutations.
  • Erlotinib  is not recommended for use in combination with platinum-based chemotherapy.

Advised to use with precautions and medical supervision in below mentioned health conditions

  • Patients with kidney disorders
  • Patients with liver disorders
  • Patients with gastrointestinal diseases
  • Patients receiving anticoagulants

Side-effects of Erlotinib

Erlotinib may possibly show some side effects in some patients. It is advised to consult your doctor if any of such side effects are noticed and if they are prolonged. Below mentioned are some possible side effects by Erlotinib. It may show side effects that are not mentioned here in this list.

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Abdominal pain
  • Oedema
  • Weight loss
  • Infection
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhoea
  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Rash
  • Shortness of breath
  • Muscle pain
  • Bone pain

Effects on organs

This medicine may possibly show adverse effects on the organs like eyes, liver, kidneys, GI tract, lungs.

Lungs: Interstitial Lung Disease

Liver: Hepatotoxicity

Eyes: Keratitis, corneal ulceration.

Kidneys: Renal impairment.

GIT: Severe diarrhoea.

 It is advised to consult the doctor and share detailed information about the current health condition so that the doctor can alter the dosage depending on the patient’s health condition.

Reported Allergic Reactions?

No major allergic reactions are noticed in case of Erlotinib. But it is not recommended in patients who have known allergic reactions towards Erlotinib.

Effect on menstrual cycle

Generally no effect noted on the menstrual cycle. You may consult your gynaecologist.

Drug Interactions to Be Careful About:

Erlotinib may possibly show drug interactions with some other medication if they are used together. It is advised to share the medication details that you might be using any with your doctor before he prescribes this medicine to you.

Erlotinib has the possibility of showing drug interaction if used along with the below mentioned list of medicine.

  • Atazanavir, Indinavir, nelfinavir, ritonavir, saquinavir.
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Carbamazepine
  • Clarithromycin
  • Lansoprazole
  • Pantoprazole
  • Fluvoxamine
  • Itraconazole, ketoconazole, nefazodone, telithromycin, troleandomycin (TAO), voriconazole.

Interactions with health conditions

Erlotinib may possibly show adverse effects in some health conditions and it is advised to use this medicine with extreme precautions and medical supervision. Below mentioned are some disease interactions that Erlotinib may show.

  • Gastrointestinal Diseases
  • Eye disorders
  • Renal impairment
  • Hepatic impairment

Food interactions

Consumption of grapefruit or grapefruit juice is not advised as this may affect the medicine levels in the blood and cause severe side effects such as nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite, mouth sores, diarrhoea, hair loss, pain, numbness, weakness. Follow the guidelines mentioned in the prescription as a safety precaution.

Interactions with laboratory procedures:

Liver function test abnormalities (including elevated alanine aminotranferase (ALT), aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and bilirubin) were observed in patients receiving single-agent Erlotinib 150 mg.

 It is always good to share details about your current medication before attending any lab tests so that you doctor and lab technician are aware off.

Is Erlotinib Addictive?

No drug addiction is noticed in the case of Erlotinib.

Can I have Erlotinib with alcohol?

Limited data is available about the effect of Erlotinib if consumed with alcohol. Consult your doctor if you have a habit of taking alcohol at regular basis.

Can I have Erlotinib When Pregnant?

Not advised to use in general in pregnant women.

Can I have Erlotinib when feeding a baby?

Not advised to use in general in breastfeeding women. But with consultation and supervision in case if unavoidable and the intended benefits are more compared to possible side effects. If this medicine is prescribed during breastfeeding, your doctor may advise you to discontinue breastfeeding until the treatment is completed.

Can I drive after taking Erlotinib?

Effectiveness of Erlotinib on impairment of mental ability is not clinically established. Consult your doctor for further guidelines.

Effect of overdose of Erlotinib

Serious adverse effects may be possible if overdosage happens in large quantities. Consult your doctor immediately in such situations.

Effect of using expired Erlotinib?

It is advised not to use any medicine that is expired to avoid any adverse effects. Consult your doctor immediately if any adverse effects are noticed by taking any expired medicine. It is advised to check the label while purchasing the medicine to verify the expiry date to be safe.

Effect of missing a dose of Erlotinib

No major adverse effects are noticed if only one dosage is missed. But if you are missing the dosages regularly, it is advised to keep a reminder so that you don’t miss the regular dosage.

Storage requirements

It is advised to store the medication away from direct sunlight and to keep at room temperature. Keep away from the reach of the children and pets.

Different Brands of Erlotinib medicine available

Below mentioned is the available brand of medicine that contains Erlotinib as key ingredient, and your doctor may prescribe this to treat the condition.

  • Erlotib 150 mg Tablet – manufactured by Intas Pharmaceuticals Ltd
  • Erleva 150mg Tablet – manufactured by Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Ltd
  • Erlotec 150mg Tablet – manufactured by United Biotech Pvt Ltd
  • Erlocip 150 Tablet – manufactured by Cipla Ltd
  • Erlotirel 150mg Tablet – manufactured by Reliance Life Sciences


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