The combination of an EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor (TKI) and gemcitabine may be synergistic

Because EGFR is expressed on the surface of both normal and cancer cells, Tarceva may have an effect on both1

 Proposed TARCEVA® Mechanism of Action - Binding to EGFR Homodimer and Heterodimer Tyrosine Kinase Domains May Inhibit Tumor Cell Proliferation and Survival in Pancreatic Cancer Treatmen

  • Tarceva binds to the EGFR homodimer and heterodimer tyrosine kinase domains. This activity may inhibit both tumor cell proliferation and tumor cell survival.2
  • Exposure of pancreatic cancer cell lines to the combination of an EGFR TKI and gemcitabine resulted in:
    • Enhanced cytotoxicity of gemcitabine3
    • Induced apoptosis in tumor cells4
  • The inhibition of other tyrosine kinase receptors by Tarceva has not been fully characterized.1

 

Advanced Pancreatic Cancer Indication

Tarceva in combination with gemcitabine is indicated for the first-line treatment of patients with locally advanced, unresectable, or metastatic pancreatic cancer.

Important Safety Information

CONTRAINDICATIONS

None

WARNINGS AND PRECAUTIONS

  • Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD): 
    • Cases of serious ILD, including fatal cases, can occur with Tarceva treatment. The overall incidence of ILD in approximately 32,000 Tarceva-treated patients in uncontrolled studies and studies with concurrent chemotherapy was approximately 1.1%. In patients with ILD, the onset of symptoms was between 5 days to more than 9 months (median 39 days) after initiating Tarceva therapy.
    • Withhold Tarceva for acute onset of new or progressive unexplained pulmonary symptoms such as dyspnea, cough, and fever pending diagnostic evaluation. If ILD is confirmed, permanently discontinue Tarceva.
  • Renal Failure: 
    • Hepatorenal syndrome, severe acute renal failure including fatal cases, and renal insufficiency can occur with Tarceva treatment. Renal failure may arise from exacerbation of underlying baseline hepatic impairment or severe dehydration.
    • The pooled incidence of severe renal impairment in the 3 monotherapy lung cancer studies was 0.5% in the Tarceva arms and 0.8% in the control arms. The incidence of renal impairment in the pancreatic cancer study was 1.4% in the Tarceva plus gemcitabine arm and 0.4% in the control arm.
    • Withhold Tarceva in patients developing severe renal impairment until renal toxicity is resolved. Perform periodic monitoring of renal function and serum electrolytes during Tarceva treatment.
  • Hepatotoxicity With or Without Hepatic Impairment:
    • Hepatic failure and hepatorenal syndrome, including fatal cases, can occur with Tarceva treatment in patients with normal hepatic function; the risk of hepatic toxicity is increased in patients with baseline hepatic impairment.
      • Hepatic Toxicity: One Tarceva-treated patient experienced fatal hepatic failure and four additional patients experienced grade 3-4 liver test abnormalities. 
    • In clinical studies where patients with moderate to severe hepatic impairment were excluded, the pooled incidence of hepatic failure in the 3 monotherapy lung cancer studies was 0.4% in the Tarceva arms and 0% in the control arms. The incidence of hepatic failure in the pancreatic cancer study was 0.4% in the Tarceva plus gemcitabine arm and 0.4% in the control arm.
    • Perform periodic liver testing (transaminases, bilirubin, and alkaline phosphatase) during treatment with Tarceva. Increased frequency of monitoring of liver function is required for patients with pre-existing hepatic impairment or biliary obstruction.
    • Withhold Tarceva in patients without pre-existing hepatic impairment for total bilirubin >3 x ULN and/or transaminases >5 x ULN. Withhold Tarceva in patients with pre-existing hepatic impairment or biliary obstruction for doubling of bilirubin or tripling of transaminases value over baseline.
    • Discontinue Tarceva in patients whose abnormal liver tests meeting the above criteria do not improve significantly or resolve within 3 weeks.
  • Gastrointestinal Perforation:
    • Gastrointestinal perforation, including fatal cases, can occur with Tarceva treatment. Patients receiving concomitant anti-angiogenic agents, corticosteroids, NSAIDs, or taxane-based chemotherapy, or who have prior history of peptic ulceration or diverticular disease may be at increased risk of perforation.
    • The pooled incidence of gastrointestinal perforation in the 3 monotherapy lung cancer studies was 0.2% in the Tarceva arms and 0.1% in the control arms. The incidence of gastrointestinal perforation in the pancreatic cancer study was 0.4% in the Tarceva plus gemcitabine arm and 0% in the control arm.
    • Permanently discontinue Tarceva in patients who develop gastrointestinal perforation.
  • Bullous and Exfoliative Skin Disorders:
    • Bullous, blistering and exfoliative skin conditions, including cases suggestive of Stevens-Johnson syndrome/toxic epidermal necrolysis, which in some cases were fatal, can occur with Tarceva treatment.
    • The pooled incidence of bullous and exfoliative skin disorders in the 3 monotherapy lung cancer studies was 1.2% in the Tarceva arms and 0% in the control arms. The incidence of bullous and exfoliative skin disorders in the pancreatic cancer study was 0.4% in the Tarceva plus gemcitabine arm and 0% in the control arm.
    • Discontinue Tarceva treatment if the patient develops severe bullous, blistering or exfoliating conditions.
  • Myocardial Infarction (MI)/Ischemia:
    • In the pancreatic carcinoma trial, 6 patients (incidence 2.1%) in the Tarceva plus gemcitabine group developed myocardial infarction/ischemia. One of these patients died due to myocardial infarction. In comparison, 3 patients in the placebo/gemcitabine group developed myocardial infarction (incidence 1.1%), and one died due to myocardial infarction. The pooled incidence of myocardial infarction/ischemia in the 3 monotherapy lung cancer studies was 0.2% in the Tarceva arms and 0.4% in the control arms.
  • Cerebrovascular Accident:
    • In the pancreatic carcinoma trial, 7 patients in the Tarceva plus gemcitabine group developed cerebrovascular accident (incidence 2.5%). One of these was hemorrhagic and was the only fatal event. In comparison, in the placebo/gemcitabine group there were no cerebrovascular accidents. The pooled incidence of cerebrovascular accident in the 3 monotherapy lung cancer studies was 0.6% in the Tarceva arms and 0.9% in the control arms.
  • Microangiopathic Hemolytic Anemia With Thrombocytopenia:
    • The pooled incidence of microangiopathic hemolytic anemia with thrombocytopenia in the 3 monotherapy lung cancer studies was 0% in the Tarceva arms and 0.1% in the control arms. The incidence of microangiopathic hemolytic anemia with thrombocytopenia in the pancreatic cancer study was 1.4% in the Tarceva plus gemcitabine arm and 0% in the control arm.
  • Ocular Disorders:
    • Decreased tear production, abnormal eyelash growth, keratoconjunctivitis sicca or keratitis can occur with Tarceva treatment and can lead to corneal perforation or ulceration.
    • The pooled incidence of ocular disorders in the 3 monotherapy lung cancer studies was 17.8% in the Tarceva arms and 4% in the control arms. The incidence of ocular disorders in the pancreatic cancer study was 12.8% in the Tarceva plus gemcitabine arm and 11.4% in the control arm.
    • Interrupt or discontinue Tarceva therapy if patients present with acute or worsening ocular disorders such as eye pain.
  • Hemorrhage in Patients Taking Warfarin:
    • Severe and fatal hemorrhage associated with International Normalized Ratio (INR) elevations can occur when Tarceva and warfarin are administered concurrently.
    • Regularly monitor prothrombin time and INR during Tarceva treatment in patients taking warfarin or other coumarin-derivative anticoagulants.
  • Embryo-Fetal Toxicity:
    • Tarceva is pregnancy category D. Based on its mechanism of action, Tarceva can cause fetal harm when administered to a pregnant woman. If Tarceva is used during pregnancy, or if the patient becomes pregnant while taking Tarceva, the patient should be apprised of the potential hazard to a fetus.
    • Advise females of reproductive potential to use highly effective contraception during therapy and for at least 2 weeks after the last dose of Tarceva. Advise patients to contact their healthcare provider if they become pregnant, or if pregnancy is suspected, while taking Tarceva.

MOST COMMON ADVERSE REACTIONS

  • Advanced Pancreatic Cancer – Tarceva Administered Concurrently with Gemcitabine:
    • Fatigue, rash, nausea, anorexia, and diarrhea.
    • Grade 3/4 (NCI-CTC Version 2.0) adverse reactions were rash (5%) and diarrhea (5%). Rash and diarrhea each resulted in dose reductions in 2% of patients and discontinuation in up to 1% of patients receiving Tarceva plus gemcitabine.

You may report side effects to the FDA at (800) FDA-1088 or www.fda.gov/medwatch. You may also report side effects to Genentech at (888) 835-2555.

Please see the Tarceva full Prescribing Information for additional Important Safety Information.

References

  1. Tarceva [package insert]. Northbrook, IL: OSI Pharmaceuticals, LLC, an affiliate of Astellas Pharma US, Inc.; 2015.
  2. Frolov A, Schuller K, Tzeng C-WD, et al. ErbB3 expression and dimerization with EGFR influence pancreatic cancer cell sensitivity to erlotinib. Cancer Biol Ther. 2007;6(4):548-554.
  3. Morgan MA, Parsels LA, Kollar LE, Normolle DP, Maybaum J, Lawrence TS. The combination of EGFR inhibitors with gemcitabine and radiation in pancreatic cancer. Clin Cancer Res. 2008;14(16):5142-5149.
  4. Solorzano CC, Baker CH, Tsan R, et al. Optimization for the blockade of epidermal growth factor receptor signaling for therapy of human pancreatic carcinoma. Clin Cancer Res. 2001;7(8):2563-2572.