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Generic name: gefitinib [ge-FI-ti-nib]

Drug class: EGFR inhibitors

What is Iressa?

Iressa is an anti-cancer medication that inhibits the growth and spreading of cancerous cells. Iressa is used in the treatment of non-small-cell lung cancer. Iressa can be used to treat cancers that have spread to other areas of the body.


Iressa must only be administered by a healthcare professional who is experienced in using cancer chemotherapeutic drugs. Please read all the instructions on the label or package of your medication. Inform your healthcare provider about your medical conditions, allergies, and medicines.

Iressa has been associated with serious side effects, including allergic reactions, lung and liver problems, eye problems, severe nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea, as well as other symptoms. Speak to your doctor regarding the potential side effects of Iressa treatment.

Before you take this drug

Iressa should not be used if you have an allergy to gefitinib.

Tell your doctor about any of the following to ensure that Iressa will be safe for you:

  • Liver disease
  • Kidney disease
  • Vision problems
  • Other lung diseases, other than lung cancer, can cause breathing problems.
  • If you are taking a blood thinner such as warfarin, Coumadin, or Jantoven,

Avoid using Iressa while pregnant. This medication could harm your unborn child. Use birth control during treatment and for 2 weeks following the end of your treatment.

This medicine can affect women's fertility (the ability to have children). Inform your doctor of any plans to get pregnant. Gefitinib is not known to pass into breast milk. It's also unknown if gefitinib could harm a baby who was nursing. Do not breastfeed while taking Iressa.

How to take Iressa?

Iressa must only be administered by a healthcare professional who is experienced in using cancer chemotherapeutic agents. You will be tested by your doctor to determine the type of tumor that you should treat with Iressa.

Please follow all the instructions on the prescription label. Your doctor may adjust your dose on occasion in order to achieve optimal results. Use this medication only as directed. Do not exceed the recommended dose or use it for longer.

Iressa can be taken with or without food.

Make swallowing easier.

  • Place the tablet in a glass filled with water (4–8 ounces). Stir for 15 minutes.
  • Use only water.
  • Do not save this mixture for later use. Stir it and drink it immediately. Tthis mixture should not be saved for later.
  • Pour, ensuring you receive the full dose. Add another 4–8 ounces to the glass. Swirl gently, then drink immediately.
  • You can also administer this mixture through a nasogastric tube (NG). For instructions, ask your healthcare provider.

You may need to have frequent blood tests done while using Iressa to monitor your liver function.

Store away from heat and moisture at room temperature.

Details on dosage

Adult dose for non-small cell lung cancer:

Take 250 mg once daily.
Duration of treatment: Up until disease progression or unacceptable toxicities occur
Information on FDA-approved tests for detection of EGFR mutations in NSCLC:
Use: As a first-line treatment for metastatic non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC), whose tumors contain epidermal-growth-factor receptor (EGFR), exon-19 deletions, or exon-21 (L858R) substitution mutations detected by FDA-approved tests.

What happens if I miss the dose?

Once you realize you missed a dose, take it immediately. If your next scheduled dose will come within 12 hours or sooner, skip it altogether as taking additional medicine to make up for a missed one is not advised.

What happens if I overdose?

Call 1-800-222-1222 for poison help or seek immediate medical attention.

What should be avoided?

Iressa should not be taken within 6–12 hours of taking antacids or stomach acid-reducing medications (Nexium or Pepcid). Gefitinib can be less effective if you take these other medications at the same time.

Side effects of Iressa

If you experience any of the following symptoms of an allergy to Iressa, seek immediate medical attention: difficulty breathing, hives, swelling of the face, lips, throat, or tongue.

If you experience:

  • Severe or ongoing diarrhea;
  • Chest pain or discomfort with fever or a new cough;
  • Blurred vision, red or painful eyes, increased sensitivity to light, and watery eyes are all symptoms of this condition.
  • Liver problems: nausea, upper abdominal pain, itching and fatigue, loss of appetite, dark urine, clay-coloured stools, jaundice
  • Signs of stomach bleeding include severe stomach pain, bloody stools or vomit with a coffee-ground appearance, or coughing up blood.
  • Severe skin reaction: fever, sore mouth, swelling of the face, tongue, or eyes, pain in the skin, followed by a reddish-purple rash (mostly on the face and upper body), blistering, and peeling.

Iressa may cause side effects such as:

  • Diarrhea;
  • Acne;
  • Increased liver enzymes
  • Sleep problems, fatigue, and weakness
  • Dry skin and dry mouth
  • Itching or skin rash

There may be other side effects. For medical advice on side effects, call your doctor. The FDA can be contacted at 1-800-FDA-1088 to report side effects.

Interaction with other drug

Gefitinib may interact with other drugs, such as prescription and over-the-counter medicines, herbal products, vitamins, and supplements. Inform your healthcare providers of all medications you are taking and those you plan to take.



Prescription only

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