What is Gilotrif (Afatinib)?

Gilotrif is a breakthrough medication used in the treatment of advanced non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Its active ingredient, afatinib, targets specific genetic mutations that drive the growth of cancer cells. By blocking these pathways, Gilotrif helps to slow down the progression of the disease and improve overall survival. This oral therapy offers a convenient and effective option for patients with EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor) mutation-positive NSCLC. With Gilotrif, individuals can gain better control over their cancer journey and have a chance to live a longer, healthier life. Consult your healthcare provider to determine if Gilotrif is suitable for you.

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What is Gilotrif (Afatinib)?

Gilotrif is an oral medication prescribed to treat metastatic non-small cell lung cancer. It contains the active ingredient afatinib, which belongs to a class of drugs called kinase inhibitors. Afatinib binds to epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) in some tumours, slowing cell growth.


Gilotrif should be taken orally, typically once per day, as instructed by your doctor. It should be taken one hour before or two hours after eating. The prescribed dosage is dependent on the severity of your condition, your current medication schedule, and how you respond to treatment. Ensure you take this medication regularly to achieve the most benefit from it. It is helpful if you take it at the same time each day. Take Gilotrif exactly as your doctor instructs you to. Do not take more than prescribed or for longer than recommended, as this will not improve your condition any faster and will increase your risk of side effects. Do not share this medication with anyone else, even if they have the same condition as you.


This medication should be stored in its original packaging until it is time to take it. Store in a location that will not exceed 77 °F (25°C), out of direct sunlight and away from moisture. Avoid storing in the bathroom. Keep out of reach of children and pets. Do not take expired or damaged product. Dispose of expired, surplus, or tampered-with product responsibly, following the instructions of your healthcare provider. Do not flush down the toilet or sink.

Side Effects

Common Side Effects

All medications come with a risk of side effects. It is important to recognise that your doctor has determined that your risk of side effects is outweighed by the potential benefit that this medication can provide. Side effects differ between individuals and it is possible that you will not experience any at all. Side effects commonly associated with Gilotrif are:

  • Mouth sores
  • Pain/redness/swelling of lips
  • Dry/itchy skin
  • Acne
  • Nose bleeds
  • Runny nose
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Appetite loss
  • Diarrhea

If you experience any of these side effects and they worry you, or they worsen or do not resolve on their own, contact your healthcare provider.

Diarrhea is a very common side effect, and this can lead to dehydration. Ensure to drink plenty of fluid to compensate. Your doctor may prescribe anti-diarrhea medication to help your symptoms. If you experience symptoms of severe dehydration such as severe or persistent diarrhea, abnormally infrequent or no urination, unusual dry mouth, very fast heartbeat, or severe lightheadedness, contact your healthcare provider.

Afatinib may commonly causes benign rashes. While it is usually harmless, it can be difficult to discern it from a rash associated with a severe reaction. Err on the side of caution and have any rash looked at by a doctor.

Severe Side Effects

Occasionally, Gilotrif can be associated with severe side effects that should be taken seriously. Contact your doctor right away if you experience any of the following: vision changes, redness or pain in the eyes, changes in light sensitivity, discharge from the eyes, low potassium symptoms such as muscle cramps, weakness, or irregular heartbeat, bladder infection (burning sensation upon urination, urgency, or unusually frequent urination), or fingernail or toenail infection.

Seek emergency medical assistance immediately if you experience difficulty breathing, chest pain, swelling in your feet, abnormal fatigue, or unusual changes in weight. These can indicate serious lung problems or heart failure.

On rare occasions, afatinib can lead to liver disease or perforations in the gastrointestinal tract. These conditions can be fatal, so ensure to seek emergency medical assistance if you experience dark urine, nausea or vomiting that won’t stop, appetite loss, severe abdominal pain, or yellowing of the eyes or skin.

A severe allergic reaction to Gilotrif is rare, but not impossible. Seek medical help immediately if you experience allergic reaction symptoms such as rash, itching, facial swelling, dizziness, or difficulty breathing.

This is not an exhaustive list of side effects. If you notice any other abnormalities while taking this medication, contact your healthcare provider for assistance.

Warnings & Precautions

Prior to starting this medication, ensure your doctor is aware of your complete personal and family medical history. Do not take this medication if you are allergic to any of its ingredients. Let your doctor know if you have a history of severe allergic reactions to other medications.

Ensure your doctor knows if you have a history of kidney or liver disease, gastrointestinal problems, eye disease, or if you use contact lenses. Gilotrif can cause visual changes such as blurriness. It is important that you do not operate heavy machinery (including driving) until you know how this drug affects you. Avoid activities that require clear vision as well. Limit your intake of alcohol.

Gilotrif can increase your sensitivity to sunlight, making you more susceptible to sunburn. Limit your sun exposure and avoid tanning beds. Always wear sunscreen and protective clothing when going outside. Tell your doctor if you get sunburnt.

Prior to having surgery, ensure all medical personnel involved in your care are aware of your complete medication schedule, including both prescription and non-prescription drugs.

This medication can harm an unborn baby if taken by a pregnant person. If you are pregnant, intend to become pregnant, or think you could be pregnant, do not take this medication. If you become pregnant while taking Gilotrif, contact your healthcare provider right away. Pregnancy should be prevented with reliable forms of contraception while you are taking this medication. Gilotrif can be absorbed through the skin and lungs, so pregnant people should not handle or breathe the dust from these tablets. If you require someone else to prepare the tablets for you, make sure they are not pregnant.

It is not known whether this drug can pass into breast milk, but due to the possible risk posed to the nursing infant, it is not advised to breast feed while taking Gilotrif. Wait at least two weeks after the last dose before breast feeding.

Interactions & Contraindications

Two or more medications taken concurrently can interact with one another, leading to changes in how they function or causing negative side effects. It is therefore important to minimise drug interactions. Keep a comprehensive list of all the medications you take on a regular basis, including prescription, non-prescription, and herbal supplements, and share this with your doctor. Do not stop, start, or change the dosage of any medication without first consulting your doctor.

Taking medications such as ritonavir, cyclosporine A, ketoconazole, erythromycin, quinidine, nelfinavir, or amiodarone alongside Gilotrif can increase the exposure to afatinib, so the dose of Gilotrif should be reduced. Conversely, taking medications such as rifampicin, carbamazepine, phenytoin, and phenobarbital can reduce the exposure to afatinib, so the dose of Gilotrif should be increased. Discuss with your doctor or pharmacist if these conditions apply to you.

This is not a complete list of interactions. If you are concerned about a medication you are taking or wish to start a new medication, always ask your doctor for assistance.

Frequently Asked Questions

Gilotrif is a targeted therapy drug used to treat lung cancer. It contains the active ingredient afatinib, which belongs to the class of drugs called kinase inhibitors. Afatinib binds to epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) to slow the growth of cancer in the body.

You should continue taking Gilotrif for as long as your doctor tells you to. It is safe to continue taking as long as it is working, and the side effects are not too bad.

If you forget to take a dose of Gliotrif and you are within a 12-hour window of when you were supposed to take it, take it as soon as you remember. If it has been more than 12 hours since you were scheduled to take it, skip the missed dose altogether. Take the following dose according to your medication schedule. Do not take both doses at the same time to catch up.

Gilotrif is termed a ‘targeted therapy’ rather than a traditional chemotherapy drug. Traditional cancer treatment is directed at killing rapidly proliferating cells as this is a hallmark of cancer. The trouble is, normal healthy cells also divide rapidly, so killing these can lead to unwanted side effects. Targeted therapies have been developed to identify other features specific to cancer cells to prevent damage to normal cells.

People who are allergic to the ingredients of Gilotrif should not take it. In addition, people who are pregnant or intend to become pregnant, as well as those who are breast feeding, should also not take Gilotrif. Gilotrif should not be taken for any other reason than for the condition it has been prescribed to treat.

If you suspect an overdose of Gilotrif, contact emergency medical assistance immediately. Symptoms of overdose include loss of consciousness and difficulty breathing.