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What is Tykerb® ? (lapatinib)

Tykerb is a targeted therapy used to treat advanced or metastatic breast cancer that is positive for human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2+) receptor in people who have received prior therapy including an anthracycline, a taxane, and Herceptin® (trastuzumab). Tykerb is manufactured by Novartis Pharmaceuticals.1

What is the ingredient in Tykerb?

The active ingredient in Tykerb is lapatinib, a kinase inhibitor which blocks the HER2 receptor.1

How does Tykerb work?

In breast cancers that are HER2+, the surface of the cancer cells has an excess of HER2 receptors. Having an excess of HER2+ can cause the breast cancers to grow and spread quickly.2

Tykerb helps block HER2 receptors from inside the cell. Tykerb is a small molecule that can pass through the cell wall and connect to the HER2 receptor to disrupt its activity. When used in combination with a medication called Xeloda® (capecitabine), Tykerb may slow the progression of metastatic breast cancer. In postmenopausal women with metastatic breast cancer that is HER2+ and hormone receptor positive (HR+), Tykerb may also potentially be given in combination with an aromatase inhibitor, such as Femara® (letrozole).1,2

What are some of the possible side effects of Tykerb?

Tykerb may cause serious side effects including liver damage, which can lead to death. Signs of liver damage include yellowing of the skin or eyes (jaundice), itching, dark colored urine, or pain or discomfort in the right upper stomach area. Any of these symptoms should be reported to a doctor right away.1,2

The most common side effects experienced by patients taking Tykerb include1,2:

  • Diarrhea
  • Hand-foot syndrome (palmar-plantar erythrodysesthesia), which causes a rash, swelling, redness, and/or pain typically on the palms of the hands and soles of the feet
  • Nausea
  • Rash
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue

Some people may develop heart problems while taking Tykerb. Symptoms of heart problems, such as a pounding or racing heartbeat, dizziness, light-headedness, tiredness, or shortness of breath, should be reported to a doctor right away.1,2

Diarrhea is a common side effect with Tykerb and may become serious and lead to dehydration or death. Patients who experience severe diarrhea should talk to their doctor for treatment.1,2

Tykerb may cause lung problems. Patients who experience shortness of breath or persistent coughing should report these symptoms to their doctor.1,2

Tykerb may cause severe skin reactions, including a rash or red skin, peeling skin, fever, or blistering of the lips, mouth, or eyes. Severe skin reactions can be life-threatening, and any signs of skin reactions should be reported to a doctor.1,2

Things to know about Tykerb

Before taking Tykerb, patients should talk to their doctor about all their health conditions, especially if they have heart problems, liver problems, or are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Tykerb should not be used during pregnancy.1,2

Before starting treatment with Tykerb and throughout treatment, patients will be tested for their liver and heart function.1

Before starting treatment with Tykerb, patients should talk to their doctor about all their medications (prescription and over-the-counter), herbal supplements, and vitamins they are taking. Some medications or supplements may interfere with each other and may cause side effects.2

While taking Tykerb, patients should avoid eating or drinking grapefruit products, as grapefruit products may increase the levels of lapatinib in the body, which can increase the potential for side effects.2

Tykerb should not be used by people with an allergy to the medication.2

Dosing information

Tykerb is a tablet which should be taken orally. Tykerb should be taken at least one hour before or one hour after a meal.1

When used in combination with Xeloda, the recommended dose for Tykerb for advanced or metastatic breast cancer is 1,250 mg (5 tablets) once daily. When used in combination with Femara, the recommended dose for Tykerb is 1,500 mg (6 tablets) once daily.1

The dose of Tykerb may be modified if significant side effects occur, including heart problems, liver problems, or severe diarrhea.1

For more information, read the full prescribing information of Tykerb.

Patients should take their medication as prescribed by their doctor. Patients should talk to their doctor if they have any questions, or if they have questions regarding their Tykerb regimen.

  1. Tykerb prescribing information. Novartis Pharmaceuticals. Available at https://www.pharma.us.novartis.com/sites/www.pharma.us.novartis.com/files/tykerb.pdf. Accessed 9/18/18.
  2. Tykerb product website. Novartis Pharmaceuticals. Available at https://www.us.tykerb.com/her2-positive-metastatic-breast-cancer/about-treatment/understanding-treatment/. Accessed 9/18/18.