Skip to main content


Pronunciation: aff-a-tin-ib
Generic name: afatinib
Brand name: Gilotrif
Dosage form: oral tablet
Drug class: Multikinase inhibitors

Medically reviewed by Philip Thornton, DipPharm. Last updated on Aug 23, 2023.

What is afatinib?

Afatinib (Gilotrif) is a cancer drug used to treat non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that is EGFR (epidermal growth factor receptor)-positive, which means that it is caused by an abnormal EGFR gene or genes.

The EGFR protein is found on the surface of cells and helps them to grow, but when the gene for EGFR is defective or abnormal cells can grow out of control causing cancer.

Afatinib belongs to a class of drugs called kinase inhibitors. It is an EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor that works by irreversibly blocking EGFR.

Afatinib helps to stop or slow the spread of cancer and may help people with EGFR-positive NSCLC live longer. It was approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2013.

What is Afatinib used for?

Afatinib is a prescription medicine that is used to treat people with:

It is not known if this medication is safe and effective in children.

What should I tell my doctor before taking afatinib?

Before you take afatinib, tell your healthcare provider about all of your medical conditions, including if you:

How should I take afatinib?

What happens if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of afatinib, take it as soon as you remember. If it is within 12 hours of your next dose, skip the dose and just take your next dose at your regular time. Do not take 2 doses of this medication at the same time.

What happens if I overdose?

If you take too much afatinib, call your healthcare provider or go to the nearest hospital emergency room right away.

What should I avoid while taking afatinib?

Limit your time in the sun. Afatinib can make your skin sensitive to sunlight. You could get or have worsening rash or acne. You could get a severe sunburn. Use sunscreen and wear a hat and clothes that cover your skin if you have to be in sunlight during treatment with this medication.

Dosing information

What are the side effects of afatinib?

Serious side effects of afatinib include:

Your healthcare provider may change your dose, temporarily stop or permanently stop treatment with this medication if you have certain side effects.

The most common side effects of afatinib include:

Afatinib may cause decreased fertility in females and males. This may affect your ability to have a child. Talk to your healthcare provider if this is a concern for you.

Tell your healthcare provider if you have any side effect that bothers you or that does not go away.

These are not all of the possible side effects of this medication. For more information, ask your healthcare provider or pharmacist. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA1088.


Tell your healthcare provider about all the medicines you take, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal supplements. Afatinib may affect the way other medicines work, and other medicines may affect the way afatinib works. Taking certain medicines with this medication may increase your risk of developing a tear (perforation) in your stomach or intestine. See “What are the side effects of afatinib?” above.

Know the medicines you take. Keep a list of them to show your healthcare provider or pharmacist when you get a new medicine.

Pregnancy and breastfeeding

Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant. Afatinib can harm your unborn baby.

Females who are able to become pregnant should use effective birth control during treatment with this medication and for at least 2 weeks after your last dose of afatinib. Talk to your healthcare provider about birth control methods that may be right for you.

Tell your healthcare provider right away if you become pregnant or think you are pregnant during treatment with afatinib.

Tell your doctor if you are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed. It is not known if afatinib passes into your breast milk. Do not breastfeed during treatment with afatinib and for 2 weeks after your last dose. Talk to your healthcare provider about the best way to feed your baby if you take this medication.


Keep all your medicines out of the reach of children.

What are the ingredients in afatinib?

Active ingredient: afatinib

Inactive ingredients:

Tablet Core: lactose monohydrate, microcrystalline cellulose, crospovidone, colloidal silicon dioxide, magnesium stearate.

Tablet Coating: hypromellose, polyethylene glycol, titanium dioxide, talc, polysorbate 80, FD& C Blue No. 2 (40 mg and 30 mg tablets only).

Afatinib is distributed under the brandname Gilotrif by Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Ridgefield, CT 06877 USA.

Popular FAQ

Gilotrif (afatinib) is a prescription medication used to help stop or slow the spread of cancer in people with epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR)-positive non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). Patients tend to take Gilotrif for a median time of about 11 to 13 months, although the length of treatment varies from person to person. Continue reading

Gilotrif (afatinib) is a chemotherapy drug used to treat non-small-cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that is caused by an abnormal epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) gene or genes. It is is a small molecule drug and EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitor.

Gilotrif is a type of targeted chemotherapy because it specifically targets and blocks EGFR. Targeted chemotherapy drugs are different from traditional chemotherapy agents which attack all dividing cells, damaging healthy cells as well as cancerous ones. Continue reading

Gilotrif (afatinib) is an epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR) tyrosine kinase inhibitor used in the treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). It is used to treat NSCLC that is EGFR-positive, meaning that it is caused by an abnormal EGFR gene. Gilotrif works by targeting and irreversibly blocking EGFR.

Gilotrif helps to stop or slow the spread of NSCLC. Continue reading

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.