Afatinib is used to treat a certain type of lung cancer known as non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC).
This medicine reduces the size of the tumour by stopping cancer cells from growing.
Take Afatinib exactly as directed by your doctor or according to the instructions on the label. Do not take more or less than instructed by your doctor.
Take it on an empty stomach, at least 1 hour before or 3 hours after a meal. Try to take it at the same time each day.
Swallow the tablet whole with a glass of still water. Do not divide, chew or crush the tablet.
If you have difficulty swallowing tablet(s), you may dissolve the whole tablet in a glass (approx 100 mL) of still (non-fizzy) water, stir for about 15 minutes until dispersed. Once it is mixed, drink it immediately. Rinse the glass with another 100 mL of water then drink immediately to get your full dose. Do not crush the tablet or use any other liquids.
Alternatively, the dispersed tablet may be administered via nasogastric tube.
The dose of this medicine will be decided by your doctor. Your doctor will advise you on the treatment timeframe depending on your condition and response to the medication.
Afatinib must be taken regularly for it to be effective. Continue taking this medicine even when you feel better. Do not stop taking it unless instructed by the doctor.
If you miss a dose and it is 8 hours or more before your next scheduled dose, take the missed dose as soon as you remember and return to your normal dosing schedule.
If your next scheduled dose is due within 8 hours, skip the missed dose and return to your normal dosing schedule.
DO NOT double a dose to make up for a missed dose.
If you often forget to take your medicine, inform your doctor and pharmacist.
Do not take Afatinib if you are pregnant. If you become pregnant while on therapy, alert your doctor immediately. This medicine may cause harm to your unborn child.
It is important that you do not get pregnant while taking this medicine. You must use proven birth control methods during Afatinib therapy and at least 2 weeks after stopping the treatment. Birth control medicines containing hormones may not be effective. You may wish to discuss other reliable methods of birth control with your doctor.
Do not breastfeed while you are being treated with Afatinib and for at least 2 weeks after stopping the treatment.
Inform your doctor if you have the following conditions:
- history of heart problems
- history of eye problems e.g. severe dry eyes, inflammation or ulcer of the eye
- history of stomach ulcer or other stomach diseases
- low body weight of <50 kg
- kidney disease
- liver disease
Avoid the use of contact lenses.
Keep your appointments with your doctor. Your doctor needs to monitor your condition and check your response to the medication regularly.
- Your doctor may need to perform blood tests to make sure that your liver and kidney functions are normal before you take this medicine and thereafter depending on your doctor’s advice.
- Monitoring for signs and symptoms dehydration, eye, skin or airway effects may also be needed.
Afatinib may cause some problems with your eyesight, such as redness, irritation, or dryness of the eyes. If affected do not drive or take part in any activity in which you need to be alert or see clearly.
Other side effects may include any of the following: diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea, nose bleeding, runny nose, redness or soreness of mouth, lip inflammation, indigestion, loss of appetite, taste disturbances, burning sensation during urination, decreased weight, muscle cramps, dry skin, and nail problems.
Avoid exposure to direct sunlight as it may worsen any skin reactions that may occur. Use a moisturiser regularly, wear protective clothing and apply sunscreen when going outdoors.
Some side effects may need immediate medical help. Alert your doctor quickly if you experience any of the following:
- rashes, breathlessness, swollen face, eyes, or mouth
- sudden or worsening shortness of breath with fever or cough
- dehydration caused by severe or persistent diarrhoea
- eye problems e.g. pain, redness, watery or tearful eyes, light sensitivity, blurry vision
- persistent stomach pain, unusual tiredness, yellowing of the skin or eyes, dark coloured urine
- rashes with peeling of the skin or blistering of the lips, mouth or eyes accompanied by fever
Inform your doctor if any of these side effects do not go away or are severe, or if you experience other side effects.
Inform your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking any of these medicines:
- medicines for epilepsy (fits or seizures) e.g. phenytoin, phenobarbital, carbamazepine
- medicines for HIV infection e.g. ritonavir, nelfinavir, saquinavir
- medicines for irregular heartbeat e.g. amiodarone, verapamil, quinidine
- certain antibiotics e.g. erythromycin, sulfasalazine
- medicines used in organ transplant or certain immune disorders e.g. ciclosporin A, tacrolimus
- medicine to treat TB (infection known as tuberculosis) e.g. rifampicin
- cholesterol-lowering medicine e.g. rosuvastatin
- herbal medicine e.g. St. John's wort
This list does not include all medicines that may interact with Afatinib.
Always notify your doctor and pharmacist if you are taking any other medicines, including herbal tonics such as traditional Chinese medicines, supplements and medicines that you buy without a prescription.
Store in a cool, dry place away from the reach of children.
Protect from high humidity or moisture, and light.
Medicines must not be used past the expiry date.
As this is a cancer medicine, always return any unused or expired tablets to the clinic, hospital or pharmacy for disposal. Do not throw it away in the household waste.