A reversible tyrosine kinase inhibitor which targets epidermal growth factor receptor–EGFR, preventing the binding of ATP to EGFR, down-regulating the signalling cascade and biochemical reactions that normally follow ATP–EGFR binding. Erlotinib is FDA-approved for treating patients with non-small cell carcinoma–NSCC  of the lung who failed to respond to at least one round of chemotherapy and may also be effective for managing advanced pancreatic and other cancers.

Adverse effects–common Rash, diarrhoea, anorexia, fatigue, interstitial pneumonitis

Adverse effects–hen’s tooth rarities Potentially fatal perforation of GI tract; Stevens-Johnson-like bullous, blistering, and exfoliative dermopathies.

It is marketed by Genetech (USA) and Roche (everywhere else); it has the dubious honour of being billed as one of the world’s most expensive drugs: it extends the life of the average patient with NSCC by 3.3. months at a cost of $95,000. 

Synonym Tarceva 


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