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Serious Infusion Reactions; Cardiopulmonary Arrest

Infusion Reactions

  • Serious infusion reactions occurred with the administration of Erbitux in approximately 3% of patients in clinical trials, with fatal outcome reported in less than 1 in 1000. Immediately interrupt and permanently discontinue Erbitux infusion for serious infusion reactions.

Cardiopulmonary Arrest

  • Cardiopulmonary arrest or sudden death occurred in patients with squamous cell carcinoma of the head and neck receiving ERBITUX with radiation therapy or a cetuximab product with platinum-based therapy and fluorouracil. Monitor serum electrolytes, including serum magnesium, potassium, and calcium, during and after ERBITUX administration.

Adverse Reaction

  • Serious adverse reactions included pulmonary embolism, which was reported in 4.4% of patients treated with cetuximab with FOLFIRI as compared to 3.4% of patients treated with FOLFIRI alone.

Dermatologis Toxicity

  • ERBITUX can cause dermatologic toxicities, including acneiform rash, skin drying and fissuring, paronychial inflammation, infectious sequelae (for example, S. aureus sepsis, abscess formation, cellulitis, blepharitis, conjunctivitis, keratitis/ulcerative keratitis with decreased visual acuity, cheilitis), and hypertrichosis.

  • Acneiform rash occurred in 82% of the 1373 patients who received ERBITUX across clinical trials. Severe (Grades 3 or 4) acneiform rash occurred in 10% of patientsAcneiform rash usually developed within the first two weeks of therapy; the rash lasted more than 28 days after stopping ERBITUX in most patients.

  • Life-threatening and fatal bullous mucocutaneous disease with blisters, erosions, and skin sloughing, has been observed in patients who received ERBITUX. It could not be determined whether these mucocutaneous adverse reactions were directly related to EGFR inhibition or to idiosyncratic immune-related effects (e.g., Stevens-Johnson syndrome or toxic epidermal necrolysis).

  • Monitor patients receiving ERBITUX for dermatologic toxicities and infectious sequelae. Instruct patients to limit sun exposure during ERBITUX therapy. Withhold, reduce dose or permanently discontinue ERBITUX based on severity of acneiform rash or mucocutaneous disease



  • A one hour observation period is recommended following the infusion of this drug. Longer observation periods may be required in patients who experience infusion reactions.
  • Patients should be periodically monitored for hypomagnesemia and accompanying hypocalcemia and hypokalemia, during and following the completion of therapy. Monitoring should continue for a period of time commensurate with the half-life and persistence of the product (e.g., 8 weeks). See Adverse Reactions: Electrolyte Depletion.
  • Close monitoring of serum electrolytes, including serum magnesium, potassium, and calcium, during and after ERBITUX therapy is recommended.

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Additional Information

Updated October 2021