CANCER STORY: Success & Hard Truth

Iressa for Lung Cancer

and its side effects


AstraZeneca informed the FDA of a study involving 1,700 lung cancer patients:

1. Patients who took Iressa lived for 5.6 months.

2. Those given a placebo (inactive, dummy pill) lived for 5.1 months.

The study shows by taking Iressa, patients live longer by TWO weeks. As a result, Iressa was withdrawn in Western countries. However, patients of Asian origin responded slightly better. They lived FOUR months longer.

1. With Iressa lung cancer patients lived 9.5 months.

2. Without Iressa patients lived only 5.5 months.

As a result, Iressa is still being prescribed to patients in Asian countries. 

Lethal Lung Cancer Drug … 444 deaths

In July 2002, Japan was the first country in the world to approve Iressa for lung cancer. In less than 2 years later, 1,151 cases of side effects were reported and 444 were thought to have died of Iressa in Japan.

The most common side effects of Iressa are: diarrhoea, rash, acne, dry skin, nausea, vomiting, interstitial lung disease (ILD), which involves scarring and inflammation of the lungs that can cause breathing problems, and pneumonia (causing difficulty breathing, coughs, fevers).

Sut is a 73-year-old female from Indonesia. She had lung cancer and was on Iressa for nine months. She suffered severe itchiness of the whole body.

The cost of Iressa was RM 8,500 for one month when she brought it from the hospital pharmacy. However, this same drug cost only RM 6,500 when she bought it from a pharmacy outside the hospital.

This is one lesson we can learn: When doctors prescribe you the drugs, the hospital make an enormous mark-up and make great profit. Try to find the same drug from the pharmacy outside the hospital – you may find a bargain there! This does not only apply to Iressa, it applies to all drugs.


Sat is a 68-year-old from Indonesia. She had lung cancer and was also prescribed Iressa. Before taking Iressa she led a normal life. After taking Iressa for a month, problems started to crop up. She suffered the following side effects:

  1. Could not sleep well
  2. Difficult to shallow
  3. Loss of appetite
  4. Nausea
  5. Could not talk for too long
  6. Diarrhea
  7. Shortness of breathe
  8. Dry skin
  9. Weight loss

She took Iressa for 3 months and then stopped.

Cost of Iressa:  20 Million Rupiah per month.

Again, you need to know that Iressa does not cure lung cancer! 

Documented side effects of Iressa: Diarrhea, rash, acne, dry skin, nausea, vomiting, pruritis (itchiness), anorexia (poor appetite), asthenia (lack or loss of strength), weight loss, peripheral edema, amblyopia (poor vision), dyspnea (difficult breathing), conjunctivitis, and mouth ulceration. 

Interstitial Lung Disease: could be fatal such as interstitial pneumonia, pneumonitis and alveolitis. Acute onset of difficult breathing sometimes associated with cough or low-grade fever, becoming severe within a short time.