Afatinib : Uses, Side Effects, Interactions & More
Why is this medication prescribed?
Afatinib is used to treat certain types of non-small cell lung cancer that has spread to nearby tissues or to other parts of the body. Afatinib is in a class of medications called kinase inhibitors. It works by blocking the action of a certain natural substance that may be needed to help cancer cells multiply.
How should this medicine be used?
Afatinib comes as a tablet to take by mouth. It is usually taken on an empty stomach once a day, at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after eating a meal or snack. Take afatinib at around the same time every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any parts you do not understand. Take afatinib exactly as directed. Do not take more or less or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.
Your doctor may temporarily or permanently stop your treatment or decrease the dose if you experience serious afatinib side effects. Talk to your doctor about how you feel during your treatment.
Keep taking afatinib even if you feel fine. Do not stop taking afatinib without consulting your doctor.
Ask your pharmacist or doctor for a copy of the manufacturer’s information for the patient.
Other uses for this medicine
This medication may be prescribed for other uses; ask your doctor or pharmacist for more information.
What special precautions should I follow?
Before taking afatinib,
- Tell your doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to afatinib, any other medications, or any of the ingredients in afatinib tablets. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
- Tell your doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, and nutritional supplements you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: amiodarone (Cordarone, Pacerone); certain antifungal medications such as itraconazole (Sporanox) and ketoconazole (Nizoral); cyclosporine (Gengraf, Neoral, Sandimmune); erythromycin (E.E.S., erythrocin, others); certain medications for the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) such as nelfinavir (Viracept), ritonavir (Norvir, in Kaletra), and saquinavir (Invirase); certain medications for seizures such as carbamazepine (Carbatrol, Equetro, Tegretol), phenobarbital, and phenytoin (Dilantin); quinidine (in Nuedexta); rifampicin (Rimactane, Rifadin, in Rifater); tacrolimus (Prograf); and verapamil (Calan, Covera, Isoptin, Verelan). Many other medications can also interact with afatinib, so be sure to tell your doctor about all the medications you are taking, even those that do not appear on this list. Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you closely for side effects.
- Tell your doctor what herbal products you are taking, especially St. John’s wort.
- Tell your doctor if you are of Asian descent or have or have ever had lung or breathing problems (other than lung cancer); eye problems, including dry eyes; Heart problems; liver or kidney disease; or any other medical condition. Also, tell your doctor if you wear contact lenses.
- Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. You should not become pregnant while taking afatinib and for at least 2 weeks after your treatment. Talk to your doctor about birth control methods that you can use during your treatment. If you become pregnant while taking afatinib, call your doctor immediately. Afatinib can harm the fetus.
- Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding. You should not breastfeed while taking afatinib.
- Plan to avoid unnecessary or prolonged exposure to sunlight and wear protective clothing, sunglasses, and sunscreen. Afatinib can make your skin sensitive to sunlight. Exposure to sunlight increases the risk that you will develop a rash or acne during your treatment with afatinib.
What special dietary instructions should I follow?
Unless your doctor tells you otherwise, continue your normal diet.
What should I do if I forget a dose?
Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. However, if it is less than 12 hours before the scheduled time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue on your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for the one you forgot.
What side effects can this medication cause?
Afatinib may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
- cracking or swelling of the lips or sores in the corners of the mouth
- dry skin or itching
- loss of appetite
- nail infection
- nose bleeds
Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of these symptoms or those listed in the IMPORTANT WARNING section, stop taking afatinib and call your doctor immediately or get emergency medical treatment:
- dry mouth, dark urine, decreased sweating, dry skin, and other signs of dehydration
- decreased urination
- swelling of the arms, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
- pain, redness, peeling, or blistering of skin
- difficulty breathing
- shortness of breath
- rapid, irregular, or pounding heartbeat
- sudden weight gain
- excessive tiredness
- pain in the right upper part of the stomach
- unusual bruising or bleeding
- yellowing of the skin or eyes
- dark urine
- red, swollen, painful, or teary eyes
- sudden changes in vision, including blurred vision
- sensitivity to light
Afatinib may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medicine.
If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor can submit a report online to the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program (http://www.fda.gov/Safety/MedWatch) or by phone (1-800-332-1088).
What should I know about storage and disposal of this medication?
Keep this medicine in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of the reach of children. Store at room temperature and away from light, excess heat, and moisture (not in the bathroom).
Unnecessary medications must be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and others cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medicine down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medications is through a drug take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage / recycling department to find out about take-back programs in your community. Check out the FDA drug safe disposal website (http://goo.gl/c4Rm4p) for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.
It is important to keep all medicines out of the sight and reach of children, as many containers (such as those containing weekly pills and those for eye drops, creams, patches and inhalers) are not child-resistant and small children can easily open them. To protect young children from poisoning, always close the safety caps and immediately place the medicine in a safe place, one that is upright and out of their sight and reach. http://www.upandaway.org
In case of emergency/overdose
In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. If the victim collapsed, had a seizure, is having trouble breathing, or cannot wake up, immediately call 911 for emergency services.
Symptoms of overdose may include:
- stomach pain
What other information should I know?
Keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory. Your doctor will order certain laboratory tests to check your body’s response to afatinib.
It is important that you keep a written list of all the prescription and over-the-counter (over-the-counter) medications you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should take this list with you every time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to take with you in case of emergencies.
Disclaimer: We have made every effort to ensure that all information is factually accurate, comprehensive and up-to-date. However, this article should not be used as a licensed health care professional’s choice of knowledge and expertise. You should always consult your doctor or other health care professional before taking any medication. The information given here is subject to change and it has not been used to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions or adverse effects. The lack of warning or other information for any drug does not indicate that the combination of medicine or medication is safe, effective or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.