trastuzumab, Herceptin (cont.)

Pharmacy Author:
Medical and Pharmacy Editor:

SIDE EFFECTS: The most common side effects of trastuzumab are:

  • diarrhea (25% of patients),
  • a prickling or burning sensation in the skin (9% of patients),
  • either an upper respiratory or a catheter-related infection (26% of patients),
  • increased cough (26% of patients),
  • nausea and vomiting (23-33% of patients),
  • rash (18% of patients), and
  • infusion-related side effects including mild to moderate chills and/or fever (40% of patients).

More patients experience these side effects when trastuzumab is given in combination with paclitaxel. Back pain may occur in 22% of patients receiving trastuzumab alone. More serious but less-common side effects may develop if trastuzumab is given with paclitaxel and other chemotherapeutic drugs, for example, cyclophosphamide (Cytoxan) or doxorubicin (Rubex). Damage to the heart including congestive heart failure (CHF) or ventricular dysfunction may occur in 19% of patients receiving trastuzumab with another chemotherapeutic drug in contrast to 2% to 20% of patients receiving only one of the drugs. Trastuzumab also causes serious and fatal pulmonary toxicity.

Other important side effects of trastuzumab alone or combined with paclitaxel include:

GENERIC AVAILABLE: No

PRESCRIPTION: Yes

PREPARATIONS: Trastuzumab is available as a powder in a vial containing 440 mg of drug. It must be mixed with a liquid before intravenous injection.

STORAGE: Trastuzumab should be stored at 2 C to 8 C (36 F to 46 F) and should not be frozen.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 7/27/2015


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