Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: March 2023 | Last updated: March 2023
Portrazza® (necitumumab) is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as an initial treatment for metastatic squamous non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Metastatic means the cancer has spread to other parts of the body. Necitumumab is given with the chemotherapy drugs gemcitabine and cisplatin.1-3
Necitumumab is not currently approved to treat other types of cancer, including non-squamous non-small cell lung cancer.1-3
What are the ingredients in necitumumab?
The active ingredient in necitumumab is necitumumab.3
How does necitumumab work?
Necitumumab is a monoclonal antibody therapy. Antibodies are a part of your immune system. They stick to germs such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi. This stops germs from infecting your body's cells and tells your immune system to destroy the germ. In monoclonal antibody treatment for cancer, antibodies attach to specific parts of cancer cells to target them directly or allow your immune system to target them. This helps to block or slow the growth and spread of cancer.1
Necitumumab attaches to a protein called epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) on cancer cells. EGFR is one of several proteins called receptor tyrosine kinases (RTKs). RTKs are receptors on the surface of cells that partner with other proteins to cause a specific action in the cell.1
In normal cells, EGFRs trigger cell growth and division. But in many NSCLC cells, there is a change (mutation) to the EGFR gene. This change activates the cancer cells to divide and grow faster. These cells also survive when they should not. Necitumumab works by blocking this process, making it harder for cancer cells to grow and spread.1
What are the possible side effects?
The most common side effects of necitumumab include:2
- Acne or dry skin
- Diarrhea or vomiting
- Weight loss
- Sores on the lips, mouth, or throat
- Changes in vision
- Red, watery, or itchy eyes
- Redness or swelling around the fingernails or toenails
Necitumumab has a boxed warning, the strictest warning from the FDA. It has this warning because of the risk of:2,3
- Cardiac arrest or sudden death
- Magnesium deficiency (hypomagnesemia) when taken in combination with other cancer drugs
These are not all the possible side effects of necitumumab. Talk to your doctor about what to expect when taking necitumumab. You also should call your doctor if you have any changes that concern you when taking necitumumab. If you experience any side effects that may be life-threatening, contact 9-1-1 right away.
Other things to know
Necitumumab is given as an infusion into a vein (IV infusion). The exact length of your infusions will depend on how your body tolerates the treatment.2
You may experience fever, chills, shortness of breath, or difficulty breathing during or right after an infusion with necitumumab, especially the first few doses. Tell your doctor if you have these symptoms after infusion. They may give you the medicine more slowly. Or they may stop for a while to give your body a chance to adjust before continuing treatment.2
Necitumumab can harm an unborn baby. If you can become pregnant, you should use birth control during treatment and for some time after the last dose of necitumumab. You should also not breastfeed during treatment with necitumumab and for some time after the last dose. Talk to your doctor about your options for birth control and breastfeeding while taking necitumumab.2,3
Before beginning treatment for NSCLC, tell your doctor about all your health conditions and any other drugs, vitamins, or supplements you are taking. This includes over-the-counter drugs.
For more information, read the full prescribing information of necitumumab.