Iressa is the product brand for gefitinib, an oral drug used to treat metastatic non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

It is indicated for tumors with certain genetic mutations, namelyepidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) exon 19 deletions or exon 21 (L858R) substitution mutations.

This individualized therapeutic approach specifically addresses the molecular causes of cancer progression in patients with these genetic changes, providing a customized treatment approach for better patient outcomes.

How Does Iressa Work?

Iressa is designed to selectively inhibit an enzyme called tyrosine kinases which is usually present on the surfaces of cancer cells. One of the enzymes that Iressa inhibits is the epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), a subclass of the tyrosine kinase found in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).

Since EGFR is responsible for the growth of cancer cells, blocking it slows the growth and spread of non-small cell lung cancer cells.

Iressa Precautions and Warnings

Just like any other medication, Iressa has some precautions and warnings to follow for the safe use of the drug. These warnings include:

  • Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD): Iressa may lead to severe, and in some cases, deadly ILD. Patients should be closely monitored for signs of dyspnea, cough, or fever, and treatment discontinued if ILD is suspected.
  • Liver Toxicity: Before starting Iressa treatment, your doctor should carry out liver function tests as Iressa is known to increase the risk of severe liver toxicity, including fulminant hepatitis.
  • Gastrointestinal Perforation: Perforations of the gastrointestinal tract have been reported with Iressa use. Discontinue the medication and immediately seek medical help if you experience the first signs of perforations such as severe abdominal pain, swelling and bloating of the abdomen, and chills.
  • Ocular Disorders: When using Iressa, you may experience corneal erosion or ulceration. Speak with your doctor if you experience symptoms of eye damage, including blurry vision, watery eyes, and reddish eyes.
  • Pregnant Women: Iressa is known to be teratogenic if administered to pregnant women. Even worse, it could lead to pregnancy loss. Therefore, women of childbearing age are advised to use efficient contraception during Iressa therapy for at least two weeks after the last dose.

Iressa Side Effects

Iressa may cause unwanted side effects which can either be mild or severe. These side effects include:

Common Side Effects

  • Rash
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea
  • Decreased appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Stomatitis
  • Paronychia
  • Dry skin

Serious Side Effects

These are severe effects and will require immediate medical attention. They include:

  • Interstitial lung disease
  • Liver toxicity
  • Gastrointestinal perforation
  • Ocular disorders
  • Renal failure

Iressa Drug Interactions

Interactions may occur when Iressa is combined with other medication. Some common drug interactions include:

Drug Interaction
CYP3A4 Inducers e.g., rifampicin, phenytoin (Dilantin), and carbamazepine (Tegretol), St. John’s Wort.These agents stimulate the activity of CYP3A4, which results in the increased metabolism of Iressa and lowered plasma levels rendering the drug less effective.
CYP3A4 Inhibitors e.g, ketoconazole, clarithromycin (Biaxin), fluconazole (Diflucan), grapefruit juice, and ritonavir:CYP2C3A4 inhibitor drugs slow down the metabolism of Iressa leading to increased plasma levels which may cause toxicity.
Acid-reducing agents (Proton Pump Inhibitors, H2-Receptor Antagonists)These agents can cause a decrease in Iressa’s absorption and thus, efficacy.
Antacids i.e magnesium hydroxide, calcium carbonate, sodium bicarbonateAntacids can prevent Iressa from being absorbed in the body and, therefore, reduce its effectiveness.
Anticoagulants like WarfarinIressa may potentiate the anticoagulant effect of warfarin, and thereby increase the risk of bleeding.
StatinsSimvastatin, atorvastatin (Lipitor), rosuvastatin (Crestor): Simultaneous administration of Iressa with a statin increases the chance of statin-induced myopathy or rhabdomyolysis.
ImmunosuppressantsTacrolimus, cyclosporine (Restasis), sirolimus, and everolimus: Iressa can elevate the blood concentration levels of immunosuppressive agents thereby causing toxicity.
Beta-blockers like Metoprolol, propranololIressa can lead to increased plasma levels of beta-blockers, which may result in stronger beta-blockade effects.

Strengths and Dosages of Iressa

The strength and dosage of Iressa varies from patient to patient. Dosages may be prescribed based on factors such as the patient’s overall health, tolerance of the medication, and response to the treatment. This ensures that you receive the most effective and appropriate treatment regimen for your condition.

Age Dosing No. of times a day
Adult250mgOnce per day

It is advisable to take the medication at the same time each day. Swallow the tablet whole don’t crush or chew it. If swallowing whole is difficult, dissolve the tablet in 4-8 ounces of water. Stir until dissolved completely. Then drink the mixture right away.

You should maintain consistency in your dosing regimen to achieve optimal therapeutic outcomes. Always consult a doctor if you have concerns regarding your prescribed dosage or treatment.

Cost of Iressa in America

The price of a supply of 30 Iressa oral tablets of 250mg is approximately $8,211. However, this price varies depending on the pharmacy you purchase the medication. Remember, the quoted price is for individuals paying out-of-pocket and might not apply for insurance coverage.

You may also opt for a generic version of Iressa which is gefitinib. The price for a supply of 30 tablets is $7,040, offering a potentially more affordable option for patients seeking the medication.

Iressa Alternatives

The alternative medication to Iressa provides targeted therapy for patients with epidermal growth factor receptor mutated cancer, offering the potential for improved outcomes and quality of life. Like all cancer treatments, the efficacy and tolerability can vary from individual to individual. The alternative medications include:

  • Erlotinib: This medication works by specifically targeting and inhibiting the activity of the epidermal growth factor receptor which is mutated in cancer cells. This helps in slowing down the growth of the cancer cells.
  • Lorlatinib: It is approved for the treatment of positive Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase, including cases of metastatic progression on prior therapy. Lorlatinib blocks the Anaplastic Lymphoma Kinase leading to tumor regression and improved outcomes.
  • Dacomitinib: Dacomitinib is used as a first-line treatment of advanced Non-Small Cell Lung Cancer with specific epidermal growth factor receptor mutation. The medication inhibits epidermal growth factor receptors leading to the suppression of cancer cell growth and progression.
  • Other Medications: Other alternative medications include, Tepotinib, Ceritinib, Brigatinib, Alectinib, and Crizotinib.

FAQs of Iressa

What is Iressa?

This medication is used to treat certain types of cancer, particularly NSCLC. Its active ingredient is gefitinib which functions by inhibiting certain proteins responsible for the growth and spread of cancer cells.

Iressa treats what type of cancer?

Iressa is primarily used in treating Non-Small Lung Cancer, specifically in cases where the cancer has mutations that make it responsive to this medication.

How does Iressa work?

The medication works by blocking certain enzymes in the body called tyrosine kinases, which are found on the surface of cancer cells like the epidermal growth factor receptor on non-small lung cancer cells.

What are the side effects of Iressa?

Iressa may present side effects such as dry skin, hair loss, folliculitis, headache, nausea, and vomiting.

Who manufactures and markets Iressa?

AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals manufactures and markets the Iressa medication, which is utilized in the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer.

How is Iressa administered?

The medication is taken orally, usually once per day. The dosage varies depending on several factors such as the patient’s condition, treatment plan, and overall health.

What is the chemical name of Iressa?

The chemical name of the medication is 4-Quinazolinamine. It works by specifically targeting the abnormal proteins found in cancerous cells. Gefitinib is sold under the brand name Iressa by AstraZeneca

Should Iressa be taken with or without food?

You can choose to take Iressa with or without food.

Can I take Iressa if my tumor has a different type of mutation?

No. Because numerous mutations have been identified as a causative factor in non-small cell lung cancer. These mutations vary significantly from one another and, therefore, necessitate distinct treatment approaches.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The information provided here is for educational purposes only and is not intended to serve as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment recommendations. It should not be taken as an endorsement of any specific medication or treatment. Individual health conditions and responses to treatment can vary greatly; therefore, this information should not be seen as a guarantee of safety, suitability, or effectiveness for any particular individual. Always consult with a healthcare professional for personalized medical advice and before making any decisions regarding your health or treatment plans.

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