What is afatinib used for?
- Afatinib is used to treat lung cancer.
Before taking afatinib, tell your doctor:
- If you are allergic to afatinib; any part of this medicine; or any other drugs, foods, or substances. Tell your doctor about the allergy and what signs you had.
- If you are breast-feeding. Do not breast-feed while you take afatinib and for 2 weeks after your last dose.
This medicine may interact with other drugs or health problems.
Tell your doctor and pharmacist about all of your drugs (prescription or OTC, natural products, vitamins) and health problems. You must check to make sure that it is safe for you to take afatinib with all of your drugs and health problems. Do not start, stop, or change the dose of any drug without checking with your doctor.
What are some things I need to know or do while I take afatinib?
- Tell all of your health care providers that you take afatinib. This includes your doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and dentists.
- Have blood work checked as you have been told by the doctor. Talk with the doctor.
- It is common to have diarrhea when taking afatinib. Some cases of diarrhea may cause fluid loss and kidney problems that can sometimes be deadly. Call your doctor right away if you have diarrhea that does not go away or if you have severe diarrhea. Do not try to treat diarrhea without first checking with your doctor.
- You may get sunburned more easily. Avoid sun, sunlamps, and tanning beds. Use sunscreen and wear clothing and eyewear that protects you from the sun.
- Very bad and sometimes deadly skin rashes have happened with afatinib. Talk to your doctor about any skin changes you may have.
- Very bad and sometimes deadly holes in the GI (gastrointestinal) tract have happened with afatinib. Talk with the doctor.
- This medicine may affect fertility. Fertility problems may lead to not being able to get pregnant or father a child.
- This medicine may cause harm to the unborn baby if you take it while you are pregnant.
- Women must use birth control while taking afatinib and for some time after the last dose. Ask your doctor how long to use birth control. If you get pregnant, call your doctor right away.
How is afatinib best taken?
Use afatinib as ordered by your doctor. Read all information given to you. Follow all instructions closely.
- Take afatinib on an empty stomach. Take at least 1 hour before or at least 2 hours after a meal.
- Avoid wearing contacts unless told to wear them by your doctor.
- Keep taking afatinib as you have been told by your doctor or other health care provider, even if you feel well.
- If you get diarrhea, you will need to make sure to avoid getting dehydrated. Drink plenty of fluids and watch for weight loss. Talk with your doctor.
What do I do if I miss a dose?
- Take a missed dose as soon as you think about it.
- If it is less than 12 hours until the next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to your normal time.
- Do not take 2 doses at the same time or extra doses.
What are the side effects of afatinib that I need to call my doctor about immediately?
WARNING/CAUTION: Even though it may be rare, some people may have very bad and sometimes deadly side effects when taking a drug. Tell your doctor or get medical help right away if you have any of the following signs or symptoms that may be related to a very bad side effect:
- Signs of an allergic reaction, like rash; hives; itching; red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin with or without fever; wheezing; tightness in the chest or throat; trouble breathing, swallowing, or talking; unusual hoarseness; or swelling of the mouth, face, lips, tongue, or throat.
- Signs of kidney problems like unable to pass urine, change in how much urine is passed, blood in the urine, or a big weight gain.
- Shortness of breath, a big weight gain, or swelling in the arms or legs.
- Feeling tired or weak.
- A heartbeat that does not feel normal.
- Change in eyesight, eye pain, or very bad eye irritation.
- If bright lights bother your eyes.
- Pain when passing urine.
- Redness or irritation of the palms of hands or soles of feet.
- Very bad belly pain.
- Very bad and sometimes deadly liver problems have happened with afatinib. Call your doctor right away if you have signs of liver problems like dark urine, feeling tired, not hungry, upset stomach or stomach pain, light-colored stools, throwing up, or yellow skin or eyes.
- Very bad and sometimes deadly lung problems have happened with afatinib. The chance may be raised in people who are of Asian descent. Call your doctor right away if you have new or worsening lung or breathing problems like trouble breathing, shortness of breath, cough, or fever.
- A very bad skin reaction (Stevens-Johnson syndrome/toxic epidermal necrolysis) may happen. It can cause very bad health problems that may not go away, and sometimes death. Get medical help right away if you have signs like red, swollen, blistered, or peeling skin (with or without fever); red or irritated eyes; or sores in your mouth, throat, nose, or eyes.
What are some other side effects of afatinib?
All drugs may cause side effects. However, many people have no side effects or only have minor side effects. Call your doctor or get medical help if any of these side effects or any other side effects bother you or do not go away:
- Dry skin.
- Dry lips.
- Pimples (acne).
- Mouth irritation or mouth sores.
- Runny nose.
- Weight loss.
- Change in skin or finger nails.
- Diarrhea, throwing up, upset stomach, and feeling less hungry are common with afatinib. If these happen, talk with your doctor about ways to lower these side effects. Call your doctor right away if any of these effects bother you, do not get better, or get very bad.
These are not all of the side effects that may occur. If you have questions about side effects, call your doctor. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects.
You may report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-332-1088. You may also report side effects at https://www.fda.gov/medwatch.
If overdose is suspected:
If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.
How do I store and/or throw out afatinib?
- Store at room temperature in a dry place. Do not store in a bathroom.
- Store in the original container to protect from light.
- Keep all drugs in a safe place. Keep all drugs out of the reach of children and pets.
- Throw away unused or expired drugs. Do not flush down a toilet or pour down a drain unless you are told to do so. Check with your pharmacist if you have questions about the best way to throw out drugs. There may be drug take-back programs in your area.
Consumer information use and disclaimer
- If your symptoms or health problems do not get better or if they become worse, call your doctor.
- Do not share your drugs with others and do not take anyone else's drugs.
- Some drugs may have another patient information leaflet. Check with your pharmacist. If you have any questions about afatinib, please talk with your doctor, nurse, pharmacist, or other health care provider.
- If you think there has been an overdose, call your poison control center or get medical care right away. Be ready to tell or show what was taken, how much, and when it happened.
This information should not be used to decide whether or not to take afatinib or any other medicine. Only the healthcare provider has the knowledge and training to decide which medicines are right for a specific patient. This information does not endorse any medicine as safe, effective, or approved for treating any patient or health condition. This is only a brief summary of general information about this medicine. It does NOT include all information about the possible uses, directions, warnings, precautions, interactions, adverse effects, or risks that may apply to afatinib. This information is not specific medical advice and does not replace information you receive from the healthcare provider. You must talk with the healthcare provider for complete information about the risks and benefits of using this medicine.