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Publications

Published: 12 December 2013

Preventing Medication Errors: Kadcyla and Herceptin

Prescriber Update 34(4): 43
December 2013

Key Messages

  • Kadcyla (trastuzumab emtansine) and Herceptin (trastuzumab) are NOT the same product.
  • Prescribers should always use the brand name Kadcyla, in addition to its generic name (trastuzumab emtansine), to help reduce medication errors.
  • Care should be taken when preparing and administering Kadcyla or Herceptin to ensure that this is the intended medicine.


In September 2013, Kadcyla was approved for use in New Zealand. Kadcyla (trastuzumab emtansine) and Herceptin (trastuzumab) are NOT the same product. Kadcyla is an antibody–drug conjugate and Herceptin is an antibody.

When writing a prescription, prescribers should always use the brand name Kadcyla, in addition to its full generic name (trastuzumab emtansine), to help reduce medication errors.

Healthcare professionals should also take care when preparing and administering Kadcyla or Herceptin to ensure that the intended medicine is administered.

In New Zealand, Kadcyla was approved for the following indication1.

Kadcyla, as a single agent, is indicated for the treatment of patients with HER2-positive metastatic breast cancer who previously received trastuzumab and a taxane, separately or in combination. Patients should have either:
  • Received prior therapy for metastatic disease, or
  • Developed disease recurrence during, or within six months of completing adjuvant therapy.

Herceptin (trastuzumab) is also indicated for HER2-positive breast cancers2. However, these medicines have different dosing and treatment schedules. Confusing the products could lead to harm to the patient.

Trastuzumab emtansine and trastuzumab are both International Non-proprietary Names (INN). These names are selected through the World Health Organization’s (WHO's) INN system. Experts from the WHO Expert Advisory Panel on the International Pharmacopoeia and Pharmaceutical Preparations have in the past discussed whether to use a one word versus a two word name for antibody-drug conjugates.

References
  1. Roche Products (New Zealand) Limited. 2013. Kadcyla Data Sheet. 3 October 2013. URL: www.medsafe.govt.nz/profs/datasheet/k/kadcylainj.pdf (accessed 18 November 2013).
  2. Roche Products (New Zealand) Limited. 2012. Herceptin Data Sheet. 25 September 2012. URL: www.medsafe.govt.nz/profs/datasheet/h/Herceptininf.pdf (accessed 18 November 2013).

 

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