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Erlotinib is used to treat non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Erlotinib was subsidized on the Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule in Australia for the treatment of advanced stage (IIIB or IV) NSCLC (August 2008). In the pivotal trial supporting initial subsidy, erlotinib increased overall survival (OS) by 2 months compared with placebo (adjusted hazard ratio, 0.70; 95% confidence interval: 0.58–0.85). We examined the effectiveness of erlotinib in a ‘real-world’ setting by measuring survival outcomes in NSCLC patients treated in two tertiary metropolitan public hospitals in Queensland. We extracted data from the electronic oncology prescribing system (CHARM) for NSCLC patients prescribed erlotinib (1 September 2009 to 1 February 2015). Survival estimates and analyses were generated using Kaplan–Meier curves. 134 patients received at least one dose of erlotinib during the study period. At the date of data extraction 113 patients had died. The median patient age was 64 years and 55% were men. The median duration of treatment was 2.0 months. The median OS was 5.8 months. The median progression-free survival (time from start of erlotinib to disease progression or death from any cause) was 3.6 months. The use of erlotinib in the two Queensland sites was consistent with the pivotal trial used to support subsidy. The median OS was somewhat less than the trial (5.8 vs. 6.7 months), which could be because of the hospital cohort including frailer patients who were unsuitable for parenteral chemotherapy, and the mixed epidermal growth factor receptor mutation status of the hospital cohort.