Erbitux

Generic Name: Cetuximab

  • What is Erbitux?

    Erbitux is an intravenous drug used to treat cancers of the colon and rectum. It is also used to treat head and neck cancer. It may be used alone or along with radiation treatments or another medication called irinotecan.

  • What is the most important information I should know about Erbitux?

    Severe allergic reactions have occurred in some people treated with Erbitux. Symptoms can include breathing problems, rash, itching, low blood pressure, and heart attack. Following administration of the drug, report any signs of infusion reactions (such as fever, chills, breathing problems) to your doctor immediately.

    Sudden death has occurred in some people with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck who have been treated with radiation therapy and Erbitux. Carefully consider the use of Erbitux in combination with radiation therapy if you have head and neck cancer and a history of coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure, or abnormal heart rhythm.

    Erbitux may cause you to become sunburned more easily. Avoid the sun, sunlamps, or tanning booths until you know how you react to this drug. If you must be outside for more than a short time, use sunscreen or wear protective clothing while you use Erbitux and for 2 months after your last dose.

    If nausea, loss of appetite, vomiting, or diarrhea occurs, you will need to take care not to become dehydrated. Contact your doctor for instructions on how to lessen these effects.

    Erbitux may lower the ability of your body to fight infection. Avoid contact with people who have colds or infections. Tell your doctor if you notice signs of infection like fever, sore throat, rash, or chills.

    Erbitux may harm a developing baby. Both men and women who are receiving Erbitux must always use adequate birth control throughout treatment and for 6 months after receiving the last dose. Breastfeeding is not recommended during Erbitux treatment and for 2 months following the last dose.

  • Who should not take Erbitux?

    Do not begin treatment with Erbitux if you are allergic to any of its ingredients.

  • What should I tell my doctor before I take the first dose of Erbitux?

    Tell your doctor about all prescription, over-the-counter, and herbal medications you are taking before beginning treatment with Erbitux. Also, talk to your doctor about your complete medical history, especially if you have lung problems, abnormal blood electrolyte levels (e.g., high or low magnesium levels), breathing problems, respiratory tract infections, a history of blood vessel problems, heart problems or heart failure, an irregular heartbeat, or if you are currently receiving radiation therapy or treatment with other types of chemotherapy.

  • What is the usual dosage?

    The information below is based on the dosage guidelines your doctor uses. Depending on your condition and medical history, your doctor may prescribe a different regimen. Do not change the dosage or stop taking your medication without your doctor's approval.

    Your doctor will prescribe the appropriate dosage for you.

    Recommended Premedication

    Before taking Erbitux, your healthcare provider will administer an antihistamine (such as diphenhydramine) intravenously 30-60 minutes prior to the first dose of Erbitux to help prevent infusion reactions. Premedication with an antihistamine may also be administered on subsequent infusions based on your doctor's judgment.

  • How should I take Erbitux?

    Erbitux is an injection given intravenously in a hospital setting.

  • What should I avoid while taking Erbitux?

    Do not drive or perform other possibly unsafe tasks until you know how you react to Erbitux; this drug may cause dizziness. This effect may be worse if you take it with alcohol or certain medicines.

    Avoid the sun, sunlamps, or tanning booths until you know how you react to Erbitux (see "What is the most important information I should know about this medication?").

    Avoid contact with people who have colds or infections. Erbitux may lower the ability of your body to fight infection.

  • What are possible food and drug interactions associated with Erbitux?

    No significant interactions have been reported with Erbitux at this time. However, always tell your doctor about any medicines you take, including over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and herbal supplements.

  • What are the possible side effects of Erbitux?

    Side effects cannot be anticipated. If any develop or change in intensity, tell your doctor as soon as possible. Only your doctor can determine if it is safe for you to continue taking this drug.

    Side effects may include: skin reactions (including rash, itching, nail changes), headache, diarrhea, blood infection, breathing problems, infusion reactions (such as fever and chills), heart problems, low levels of magnesium and other electrolytes

  • Can I receive Erbitux if I am pregnant or breastfeeding?

    Erbitux may harm a developing baby and should only be used if the potential benefits outweigh the potential risks. Tell your doctor immediately if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breastfeeding. Nursing is not recommended during Erbitux therapy and for at least 2 months following the last dose of the drug.

  • What should I do if I miss a dose of Erbitux?

    Ask your doctor for advice.

  • How should I store Erbitux?

    Your doctor will store this medication.

Meet the Pharmacists

I'm Beth Isaac, PharmD. Welcome to PDR Health!

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