Herceptin®

(trastuzumab)

Pronounced Her-cep-tin

Herceptin, also known as trastuzumab, is a targeted therapy for the treatment of early HER2-positive breast cancer and advanced HER2-positive breast cancer.

Herceptin when given by intravenous (IV) infusion is fully funded by PHARMAC.

Herceptin when given by subcutaneous (SC) injection is not funded.  This means you will need to pay for it privately.

The resources below contain useful information on Herceptin such as what it is for, how it works, things to consider before starting treatment and what to expect during treatment including side effects.

Please keep in mind that the booklets are not intended to replace medical advice from your doctor or other healthcare professionals.

Ready to take the next step?

Talking to your doctor about Herceptin

We’ve put together a discussion guide to help you begin a conversation with your doctor about Herceptin. Print it off, take it along to your next appointment, and take notes in the spaces provided.

For further information about private treatment providers for Herceptin SC click here.

You can also talk to your current doctor about referral to a private doctor or treatment centre.

To learn more about how medicines become available in New Zealand, click here.

Handy resources

The following resources contain useful information on Herceptin such as what it is for, how it works, things to consider before starting treatment and what to expect during treatment including side effects. 

Herceptin® (trastuzumab), 150mg and 440mg vials for intravenous (IV) infusion and 600mg/5ml solution for subcutaneous (SC) injection, is a Prescription Medicine used to treat patients with breast cancer whose tumour has tested positive to HER2.

Do not use Herceptin if: you have early breast cancer and have had an LVEF test (measures how well your heart can pump blood) of less than 45% or you have symptoms of heart failure; you have had an allergic reaction to Herceptin; or benzyl alcohol, or any proteins of Chinese hamster origin.

Tell your doctor if: you have a history of coronary artery disease, poorly controlled high blood pressure, heart failure, cardiac arrhythmia (an abnormal or rapid heartbeat), angina (chest pain); or if you have previously received chemotherapy treatment with medicines known as anthracyclines; you have breathing or lung problems; you are pregnant or breast-feeding, or plan to become pregnant or breast-feed; you are allergic to any other medicines or any other substances such as foods, preservatives or dyes; you are currently taking any other medicines; if you started any new medication within seven months of stopping any previous Herceptin treatment.

Tell your doctor immediately or go to your nearest Accident and Emergency Centre if you notice any of the following: swelling of your face, lips, tongue or throat with difficulty breathing; severe shortness of breath, difficulty breathing or wheezing; severe chest pain spreading out to the arms, neck, shoulder and/or back; rash, itching or hives on the skin; fever or chills; feeling sick (nausea); headache; dizziness; diarrhoea; abnormal or irregular heartbeat; severe swelling of the hands, feet or legs; severe coughing. Possible common side effects may also include: getting tired more easily after light physical activity; shortness of breath, especially when lying down or if it disturbs your sleep; runny or blocked nose or nosebleeds; difficulty sleeping, anxiety or depression; confusion; weakness or soreness in muscles and/or joints; increased cough; feeling dizzy, tired, looking pale; flu and/or cold symptoms, frequent infections with fever, severe chills, sore throat or mouth ulcers; hot flushes; diarrhoea; changes in weight (gain or loss); decrease in or loss of appetite; redness, dryness or peeling of the hands or feet; pain in hands or feet; unusual hair loss or thinning; nail problems; eye problems such as producing more tears, swollen runny eyes or conjunctivitis (discharge with itching of the eyes and crusty eyelids); pain or reaction at the site of injection.

Herceptin has risks and benefits. Ask your oncologist if Herceptin is right for you. Use strictly as directed. If symptoms continue or you have side effects, see your healthcare professional.  For further information on Herceptin, please talk to your healthcare professional or visit www.medsafe.govt.nz for Herceptin Consumer Medicine Information.

Herceptin IV is a funded medicine for patients with HER2-positive breast cancer who meet pre-defined criteria. A prescription charge and normal Doctor’s fees may apply.

Herceptin SC is not funded by PHARMAC. You will need to pay the full cost of this medicine. A prescription charge and normal oncologist fees may apply.

Consumer panel dated May 2020.