Afinitor: what are the side effects and how to take?

Medicine is evolving in the treatment of several diseases, including cancer .

One such example is the medicine Afinitor. It was approved in Brazil in 2009, with some health indications. However, in 2011, the medication was released for use in other treatments.

Learn more about the drug and its action:


What is Afinitor?

Afinitor, the reference medicine, comes in a tablet. It is used to fight the spread of some tumors that affect parts of the body such as breasts, kidneys, lungs, stomach, intestines and pancreas.

This medicine has an active ingredient called Everolimo, an anti-tumor. This means that it tends to prevent the growth of genetically modified cells (which are the tumors).

Thus, this substance prevents some types of cancer from continuing to grow and affect the body.

Afinitor’s dosage may vary for each case. If a dose is missed, the medicine can still be taken after 6 hours. After that time, the ideal, in cases of forgetfulness, is that the dose of that day is skipped.

What is the medicine Afinitor used for?

It is indicated for the treatment of some types of cancer in specific cases, such as advanced stages of kidney cancer that has progressed during treatment with VEGFR – TKI, immunotherapy or chemotherapy. Women in menopause in advanced stages of breast cancer may also take Afinitor.

Such a drug is still recommended to treat tumors that are present in the pancreas, intestine, stomach and lung (known as neuroendocrine tumors).

Other Afinitor utilities include:

  • Treatment of subependymal giant cell astrocytoma (a specific brain tumor) related to the Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC);
  • Treatment of renal angiomyolipoma (kidney tumor) related to the Tuberous Sclerosis Complex but which does not require immediate surgery.

How to take Afinitor?

This medication should be taken orally. Just put the pill in your mouth and swallow it with the help of a sip of water. Always try to take the medicine at the same time.

It is worth mentioning that the drug is sold in different milligrams. Thus, the quantity of pills should be guided by professionals, taking into account the choice of presentation (for example, 2.5mg, 5mg or 10mg)

Afinitor can be consumed on an empty stomach, before, during or after meals.

It is worth mentioning that the tablets should not be broken, cut, chewed or crushed.

If the patient is having difficulty swallowing the medication, it can be diluted with water. To do the procedure correctly, follow the steps below:

  1. Wash your hands well;
  2. Remove the tablet from the pack and place it in a glass with 30mL of water;
  3. Wait for the tablet to deflate (takes between 5 and 7 minutes) and drink immediately;
  4. Put the same amount of water (30ml) back into the glass;
  5. Drink again, to ensure that the entire dose of Afinitor has been ingested.

What do I need to know when I’m taking Afinitor?

This medication can interfere with the reaction of other medications (this is known with drug interactions ). Therefore, tell the doctor if you are taking other drugs.

There is also food interaction. That is, when some food reacts with the medication and interferes with the drug’s reaction.

In the case of Afinitor, the foods that cause this reaction are: grapefruit, star fruit and Seville orange.

These fruits can affect the amount of Afinitor present in the blood. Thus, juices, pastries and own fruit in nature should be avoided.

What are the side effects?

All medications can cause adverse reactions. As each organism is different, it is possible that patients who ingest the same dose of Afinitor will have different reactions (for example, patient A had no reaction and patient B did).

In general, side effects are specified in the package insert and divided into very common, common, uncommon and rare.

Afinitor, in addition to this division, has other categories that separate the adverse reactions by the disease being treated (for example, very common reactions in the treatment of breast cancer).

Therefore, following the instructions, we will also organize the text in this way. Learn more about Afinitor’s reactions below:

Tuberous Sclerosis Complex (TSC)

In the treatment of Tuberous Sclerosis Complex, Afinitor can cause the following side effects:

  • Very common: inflammation of the lung (pneumonitis), urinary tract infections, headaches and sore throats, diarrhea, sinusitis, unregulated menstrual cycle, fever, difficulty breathing, wheezing and coughing;
  • Common: dizziness, severe allergic reactions, itching, redness and sores on the skin, difficulty swallowing, feeling of tightness or heaviness, swelling, spontaneous bleeding (in the nose, for example), anemia, dizziness, menstrual irregularity, stuck intestine, excess gas, insomnia, aggressiveness, weight loss and difficulty in getting around;
  • Uncommon: sores on the gallbladder, cough, fever and swelling of the airways or tongue, bronchitis and loss of taste (dysgeusia).

Breast or advanced kidney cancer and neuroendocrine tumors

Afinitor can be used to treat breast or kidney cancer in an advanced stage, or to treat neuroendocrine tumors (present in the pancreas, lung, intestine and stomach).

In these situations, it can cause the following side effects:

  • Very common: fever, chills, dark urine, lighter than normal stools, yellowish skin, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea, coughing, difficulty breathing and inflammation in the lung (pneumonitis), bleeding from the nose, diarrhea, anemia, pain headache, pallor and increased blood sugar or cholesterol;
  • Common: excessive thirst, increased appetite, weight loss, increased or decreased urine volume, insomnia, high blood pressure, unregulated menstrual cycles, bleeding from organs such as the intestine (internal bleeding) and kidney failure;
  • Uncommon: shortness of breath, itching, reddish patches on the skin (hives), dizziness, difficulty swallowing, bloody cough, back and chest pain, no menstruation, difficulty healing wounds and swelling or pain in the legs (usually calf);
  • Rare: shortness of breath, rapid and wheezing, swelling of the face, tongue or respiratory tract.

Does the Afinitor package insert have contraindications?

Yes, according to the package leaflet for this medication, it should not be ingested if the patient has allergies to:

  • Everolimo (Afinitor’s active ingredient);
  • Sirolimus (active substance similar to Afinitor);
  • Tensirolimus (active substance similar to Afinitor).

If you suspect that Afinitor is causing allergies, seek medical attention.

What is the price of Afinitor 2.5mg, 5mg and 10mg?

Afinitor’s price varies according to the milligram. In this text, all quotations are made on top of boxes containing 30 tablets:

  • Afinitor 2.5 mg has average prices of R $ 3,052 *;
  • Afinitor 5 mg starts at R $ 5,394 *;
  • Afinitor 10 mg can be purchased for $ 10,882 *.

* Prices researched at Consulta Remédios in December 2019. Prices may change. 

Where to buy Afinitor cheaper?

To find out where to buy cheaper, you can use price comparison sites such as Consulta Remédios.

It is very simple, just access the link and type the name of the drug in the search field. Then, check the prices, the milligram of the drug, the brand and the nearest pharmacy that has this drug for sale.

Afinitor prices (and other drugs) can weigh in many people’s pockets. For example, currently, the value of Afinitor 10mg can cost up to 16 times the Brazilian minimum wage.

If you are unable to afford this drug, you can file a lawsuit for the government to make this drug available.

For that, it is necessary some documents such as medical report that proves the need for Afinitor, budget of 3 pharmacies or drugstores and other papers that are legally necessary.

The good news is that to make your life easier, Consulta Remédios offers you a little help: access our legal advice , fill in your details and in a few hours, we will send you a personalized quote for your case.

Does Novartis have a patient program?

Yes. Novartis Brasil has a program called “Vale Mais Saúde” or VMS. The goal is to make patients aware of the importance of the treatment that this person does. This is done by sending pamphlets about the medication and the disease. There are also reminders of the next dose of the drug and discounts on medications.

For more information, visit the Novartis Brasil patient support page or the Vale Mais Saúde website .

Afinitor is a drug indicated for the treatment of some types of cancer (breast or kidney) and tumors that can appear in several places on the body (intestine, pancreas, intestine and lung).

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