For more details about Tagrisso’s uses, see the “Is Tagrisso used for lung cancer?” section below.
The active drug in Tagrisso is osimertinib. A generic version of the drug is not currently available.
Tagrisso comes as a tablet that you swallow.
Keep reading to learn more about Tagrisso’s side effects, cost, uses, and more.
Like most drugs, Tagrisso may cause mild or serious side effects. The lists below describe some of the more common side effects that Tagrisso may cause. These lists don’t include all possible side effects.
Keep in mind that side effects of a drug can depend on:
- your age
- other health conditions you have
- other medications you take
Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you more about the potential side effects of Tagrisso. They can also suggest ways to help reduce side effects.
Mild side effects
Here’s a short list of some of the mild side effects that Tagrisso can cause. To learn about other mild side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist, or read Tagrisso’s prescribing information.
Mild side effects of Tagrisso that have been reported include:
- low levels of red blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets (cells that help with blood clotting)
- dry skin
- changes in your nails, such as brittleness or separation of the nail from the nailbed
- back, joint, or muscle pain
- mouth sores
- fatigue (low energy)
- belly pain
- low appetite
- infection, such as urinary tract infection (UTI) or the common cold
- hair loss
- skin rash*
* For more information about this side effect, see the “Side effect focus” section below.
Mild side effects of many drugs may go away within a few days to a couple of weeks. But if they become bothersome, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
Serious side effects
Serious side effects from Tagrisso can occur, but they aren’t common. If you have serious side effects from Tagrisso, call your doctor right away. But, if you think you’re having a medical emergency, you should call 911 or your local emergency number.
Serious side effects of Tagrisso that have been reported include:
- eye problems, such as eye swelling, pain, or blurred vision
- severe skin reactions
- inflammation (swelling) in your blood vessels
- very low levels of blood cells, white blood cells, or platelets
- lung problems, such as pneumonitis*
- cardiac side effects*
- allergic reaction*
* For more information about this side effect, see the “Side effect focus” section below.
Side effect focus
Learn more about some of the side effects Tagrisso may cause.
Some people may have a skin rash while taking Tagrisso. This was one of the most common side effects in the drug’s studies. This side effect is usually mild but can be severe in rare cases.
A skin rash may be itchy, bumpy, and appear red or discolored. It’s also common to have dry skin while taking Tagrisso, which can make itchiness worse.
What might help
To help manage this side effect, there are a few different over-the-counter options. A medicated cream or ointment, such as hydrocortisone, may help ease the symptoms of a skin rash from Tagrisso. An oral antihistamine, such as diphenhydramine (Benadryl) or cetirizine (Zyrtec), can help relieve itching.
In most cases, a rash is a mild side effect of Tagrisso and not an allergic reaction. But since allergic reactions and other skin reactions can become severe, it’s important to tell your doctor about a rash or other skin reactions right away.
Lung problems, such as pneumonitis
Serious lung problems are a rare but possible side effect of Tagrisso. Lung problems that have been reported include:
- pneumonitis, which is inflammation (swelling) in the lungs
- interstitial lung disease (ILD), which is formation of scar tissue in the lungs due to inflammation
Symptoms of these conditions may include:
- shortness of breath
- trouble breathing
In rare cases, these side effects have been fatal. If you have concerns about your risk of pneumonitis or ILD, talk with your doctor.
Tagrisso is used to treat certain type of lung cancer. Keep in mind that lung cancer already causes some of the same symptoms as pneumonitis or ILD. You’ll want to watch for any symptoms that become worse or feel different than usual.
What might help
Tell your doctor right away if you have symptoms of a lung problem. If your doctor determines that you have pneumonitis or ILD, they’ll have you stop taking Tagrisso. They’ll also prescribe treatment for your lung condition.
Cardiac side effects
In rare cases, heart problems from Tagrisso have been fatal. If you’re concerned about your risk of heart problems while taking Tagrisso, talk with your doctor.
With CHF, your heart can’t pump enough blood throughout your body. Symptoms can include:
- swelling, usually in your legs, ankles, or feet
- dry cough that may get worse during physical activity
- shortness of breath that worsens when you’re lying down
Long QT syndrome is a type of abnormal heart rhythm. Symptoms include:
- feeling like your heart is skipping a beat
What might help
Before taking Tagrisso, talk with your doctor about any heart problems you’ve had. If your doctor determines that it’s safe for you to take Tagrisso, they’ll monitor you closely during your treatment.
Tell your doctor right away if you notice any symptoms of heart problems. If they diagnose you with a new or worsened heart problem, they’ll likely have you stop taking Tagrisso.
Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:
A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include swelling under your skin, typically in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet. They can also include swelling of your tongue, mouth, or throat, which can cause trouble breathing.
Call your doctor right away if you have an allergic reaction to Tagrisso. But if you think you’re having a medical emergency, call 911 or your local emergency number.
Get answers to some commonly asked questions about Tagrisso.
What’s the usual life expectancy with Tagrisso treatment?
It varies. In studies, Tagrisso helped some people with non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) live longer than those taking certain other medications. The drug may also help extend amount of time a person lives with the disease before it gets worse.
Several factors can affect a person’s life expectancy with NSCLC. Examples of these factors include how advanced your cancer is, other medical conditions you may have, and how well your body tolerates cancer treatments.
If you have questions about what to expect from Tagrisso treatment, talk with your doctor.
Are there certain foods I should avoid during my Tagrisso treatment?
It’s a good idea to avoid grapefruit and grapefruit juice while you’re taking Tagrisso. Grapefruit may interact with the drug, which can raise your risk of side effects.
Some herbal teas or dietary supplements may also affect Tagrisso. Before consuming these products during your Tagrisso treatment, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.
What type of drug is Tagrisso? Is it chemotherapy or immunotherapy?
Tagrisso is a kind of targeted therapy. It targets certain cancer cells, which is different than how chemotherapy or immunotherapy drugs work.
Chemotherapy drugs kill cells that are rapidly growing and multiplying. But chemotherapy drugs can’t tell the difference between cancer cells and healthy cells that are rapidly growing and multiplying. This can lead to many side effects.
Immunotherapy drugs help your immune system recognize the presence of cancer cells. This helps your body attack the cancer cells, similar to the way your body fights a bacterial or viral infection.
If you have other questions about how Tagrisso is different from other types of treatment, talk with your doctor.
How does Tagrisso work (what’s its mechanism of action)?
Tagrisso is a type of targeted therapy. The drug’s mechanism of action (how it works) is to target certain proteins on cancer cells. When it attaches to these proteins, Tagrisso blocks the growth and spread of the cancer cells.
How will I know if Tagrisso is working for me?
Throughout your treatment, your doctor will order scans (such as a CT scan) or other tests to check how well the drug is working for you. You won’t be able to feel Tagrisso working in your body.
You’ll likely keep taking Tagrisso for as long as your scans and tests show that the cancer is not growing or spreading. But you could stop taking it sooner if your side effects are too bothersome or severe to continue treatment.
Costs of prescription drugs can vary depending on many factors. These factors include what your insurance plan covers and which pharmacy you use.
If you have questions about paying for Tagrisso, including how much it may cost with insurance or its cost per month, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. You can also visit the Tagrisso manufacturer’s website to see if they have support options.
You can also check out this article to learn more about saving money on prescriptions.
Tagrisso is used to treat certain types of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) in adults.
Specifically, Tagrisso is used to treat NSCLC that’s EGFR-positive (EGFR+). This means the cancer has a mutation (abnormal change) in a gene that affects a protein called epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR).
Before prescribing Tagrisso, your doctor will do genetic testing to check whether your cancer is EGFR+.
Tagrisso for stage 4 lung cancer
Some people with stage 4 NSCLC may take Tagrisso as their first treatment. Or in some cases, you may take Tagrisso if you’ve tried certain other drugs, and your cancer got worse during or after treatment. Your doctor will determine whether Tagrisso is right for you based on the specific type of NSCLC you have.
Tagrisso for early stage lung cancer
Tagrisso is used for the adjuvant treatment of early stage EGFR+ NSCLC.
Adjuvant treatment is used to help prevent cancer from coming back after you’ve had surgery to remove your tumor. “Early stage” means the cancer hasn’t spread to other parts of the body.
For this use, Tagrisso may be prescribed if your cancer has certain mutations.
Your doctor will recommend the dosage of Tagrisso that’s right for you. Below are commonly used dosages, but always take the dosage your doctor prescribes.
Form and strengths
Tagrisso comes as a tablet that you swallow. It’s available in two strengths: 40 milligrams (mg) and 80 mg.
Tagrisso is taken once daily. You can take it at any time of day, but you should try to take it around the same time each day. This helps keep a consistent level of the drug in your body.
Questions about Tagrisso’s dosage
Here are some common questions about the dosage of Tagrisso.
- What if I miss a dose of Tagrisso? If you miss a dose, you should skip the missed dose. Just take your next dose at the usual time. You should not take extra doses to make up for missing a dose. Doing so can raise your risk of side effects.
- Will I need to use Tagrisso long term? Yes. If you and your doctor feel that Tagrisso is safe and effective for you, you’ll likely take it long term. For early stage non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC), you may take Tagrisso for up to 3 years after having surgery to remove your tumor. To treat metastatic NSCLC, you’ll likely continue taking Tagrisso as long as possible.
- How long does Tagrisso take to work? Tagrisso starts working after you take your first dose. Throughout your treatment, your doctor will order various scans and tests to check how well the drug is working to treat your cancer. Your doctor can tell you more about these tests and how often you’ll need them.
Some important things to discuss with your doctor when considering Tagrisso treatment include your overall health, any medications you may take, and any medical conditions you may have.
Taking a medication with certain vaccines, foods, and other things can affect how the medication works. These effects are called interactions.
Before taking Tagrisso, be sure to tell your doctor about all medications you take, including prescription and over-the-counter types. Also describe any vitamins, herbs, or supplements you use. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you about any interactions these items may cause with Tagrisso.
Interactions with drugs or supplements
Tagrisso can interact with several types of drugs. These drugs include:
- certain antibiotics, such as clarithromycin and rifampin (Rifadin, Rimactane)
- certain seizure medications, such as carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Equetro, Tegretol)
- antiarrhythmics, such as amiodarone (Pacerone)
- ondansetron (Zofran), a nausea drug
- certain antipsychotic drugs, such as quetiapine (Seroquel)
- St. John’s wort, an herbal supplement
This list does not contain all types of drugs and supplements that may interact with Tagrisso. Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you more about these interactions and any others that may occur with use of Tagrisso.
It’s best to avoid grapefruit and grapefruit juice while you’re taking Tagrisso. Consuming these products during your treatment can raise your risk of side effects. Some herbal teas or dietary supplements may also interact with Tagrisso. Talk with your pharmacist or doctor before consuming these products during your Tagrisso treatment.
Tagrisso may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors that affect your health. Talk with your doctor about your health history before you take Tagrisso. Factors to consider include those in the list below.
- Heart problems. If you already have a heart condition, or if you have a high risk for heart problems (such as a heart attack) it may not be safe for you to take Tagrisso. This is because in rare cases, the drug may cause heart problems. If your doctor determines that your heart is healthy enough for you to take Tagrisso, they’ll likely monitor you closely during treatment.
- Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Tagrisso or any of its ingredients, your doctor will likely not prescribe Tagrisso. Ask them what other medications are better options for you.
Tagrisso and alcohol
It should be safe to drink alcohol during your Tagrisso treatment.
If you drink alcohol, talk with your doctor about how much is safe for you to consume while taking Tagrisso.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
It’s not safe to take Tagrisso during pregnancy. The drug may cause harmful side effects in a fetus.
If you’re able to become pregnant, your doctor will have you take a pregnancy test before they prescribe Tagrisso. This is to confirm that you aren’t pregnant.
If you or your partner could become pregnant, talk with your doctor about your birth control needs while you’re taking Tagrisso. Females* who can become pregnant should use birth control during Tagrisso treatment and for at least 6 weeks after treatment ends. Males* with a partner who can become pregnant should use birth control during treatment and for at least 4 months after their last dose.
It may not be safe to take Tagrisso if you’re breastfeeding. It’s not known whether Tagrisso passes into breast milk. If it does, serious side effects may occur in a child who’s exposed to Tagrisso through breast milk. For this reason, you shouldn’t breastfeed during Tagrisso treatment and for at least 2 weeks after your last dose.
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, or planning to become pregnant or to breastfeed, talk with your doctor before taking Tagrisso. They can discuss your treatment options with you.
* In this article, we use the terms “male” and “female” to refer to someone’s sex assigned at birth. For information about the difference between sex and gender, see this article.
Your doctor will explain how you should take Tagrisso. They’ll also explain how much to take and how often. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions.
You’ll take Tagrisso by mouth once daily with or without food. It’s best to take the drug around the same time each day. This helps keep a consistent level of the drug in your body.
Accessible medication containers and labels
If it’s hard for you to read the label on your prescription, tell your doctor or pharmacist. Certain pharmacies may provide medication labels that:
- have large print
- use braille
- contain a code you can scan with a smartphone to change the text into audio
Your doctor or pharmacist may be able to recommend a pharmacy that offers these options if your current pharmacy doesn’t.
Also, if you’re having trouble opening your medication bottles, let your pharmacist know. They may be able to put Tagrisso in an easy-open container. Your pharmacist may also recommend tools to help make it simpler to open the drug’s container.
Questions about taking Tagrisso
Below are some commonly asked questions about taking Tagrisso
- Can Tagrisso be chewed, crushed, or split? No, you should swallow Tagrisso tablets whole. Do not chew, crush, or split them. But if you have trouble swallowing pills, a Tagrisso tablet can be dispersed (partly dissolved) in water using the following steps:
- Place the whole tablet in 60 milliliters (mL) of plain, cool water. (Don’t crush it.)
- Stir the water until the tablet separates into small bits. It won’t completely dissolve.
- Drink the mixture right away. Then, refill the glass with 120 mL to 240 mL (about 1/2 cup to 1 cup) of water and drink it right away. This will ensure that you get your full dose of Tagrisso.
Tagrisso can also be taken through a nasogastric tube (a tube that goes from your nose into your stomach). Your doctor or pharmacist can tell you more about this.
- Should I take Tagrisso with food? Tagrisso may be taken with or without food.
Questions for your doctor
You may have questions about Tagrisso and your treatment plan. It’s important to discuss all your concerns with your doctor.
Here are a few tips that might help guide your discussion:
- Before your appointment, write down questions such as:
- How will Tagrisso affect my body, mood, or lifestyle?
- Bring someone with you to your appointment if doing so will help you feel more comfortable.
- If you don’t understand something related to your condition or treatment, ask your doctor to explain it to you.
Remember, your doctor and other healthcare professionals are available to help you. And they want you to get the best care possible. So, don’t be afraid to ask questions or offer feedback on your treatment.
Don’t take more Tagrisso than your doctor prescribes. Using more than this can lead to serious side effects.
What to do in case you take too much Tagrisso
Call your doctor if you think you’ve taken too much Tagrisso. You can also call 800-222-1222 to reach the American Association of Poison Control Centers or use its online resource. But if you have severe symptoms, immediately call 911 or your local emergency number. Or go to the nearest emergency room.
Tagrisso can be an effective treatment option for adults with certain types of lung cancer. If you’re considering this medication as a treatment option, don’t hesitate to talk with your doctor about any questions or concerns you may have.
Here are some ideas to get the conversation started:
- Should I continue taking my other medications when I start Tagrisso?
- Do side effects of 80-mg tablets differ from those of 40-mg tablets?
- Would an alternative to Tagrisso, such as erlotinib (Tarceva) be a good option for me?
- Is it safe to get vaccines, such as the flu vaccine and COVID-19 vaccine, while taking Tagrisso?
Can Tagrisso cure my lung cancer?Anonymous
No, Tagrisso can’t cure lung cancer. Unfortunately, there currently isn’t a cure for lung cancer.
Tagrisso also isn’t meant to help you reach remission. (With remission, the signs of cancer partially or completely disappear after treatment. This is checked with certain tests.)
Instead, Tagrisso is meant to help slow the growth and spread of certain types of lung cancer. Studies have shown that Tagrisso can help some people live longer without their cancer growing or spreading.
You can read more about Tagrisso’s studies for metastatic and early lung cancer on the manufacturer’s website. You can also talk with your doctor for more information about what to expect from your Tagrisso treatment.The Healthline Pharmacist TeamAnswers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.
Disclaimer: Healthline has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.