In the past decade, molecular-targeted drugs have been focused upon for the treatment of cancer. In 2002, gefitinib, an epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitor became available in Japan for the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Over 80% of selected patients, such as EGFR mutation-positive patients, respond to gefitinib treatment; however, most patients develop acquired resistance to gefitinib within a few years. Recently, many studies have been performed to determine precisely how to select patients who will respond to gefitinib, the best timing for its administration, and how to avoid the development of acquired resistance as well as adverse drug effects. This article reviews the use of gefitinib for the treatment of NSCLC from a pharmaceutical viewpoint.
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