Osimertinib (Oral)

Overview

Oral osimertinib is designed to treat a form of lung cancer known as non-small cell lung cancer. It is usually given to patients who possess some types of abnormal epidermal growth factor (EGFR) genes. Usually, it is not used in the first instance and it is only prescribed when EGFR tyrosine kinase inhibitors have been used and have stopped working. It only treats metastatic cancer, which means a cancer that has already begun to move around the body.

The medication works by altering the growth trajectories of the cancerous cells, resulting in their ultimate destruction. This medication is available only in tablet format, and it is only available with a prescription from your physician. Its brand name in the USA is Tagrisso, which means you may see it referred to in this way in pharmacies and stores and in marketing materials.

Conditions Treated

  • Metastatic non-small cell lung cancer

Type Of Medicine

  • Antineoplastic

Side Effects

As with many different drugs, taking oral osimertinib can cause a range of medical problems in addition to targeting the original cancer. These unwanted problems are known as side effects.

The side effects of taking oral osimertinib can roughly be split into two categories.

The first category of potential side effects associated with oral osimertinib include those which require you to speak to your physician immediately. Some of the side effects in this category are classed as more common following extensive research. They include problems with your chest, such as pain in the area, a cough, an unusually uneven heartbeat or shortness of breath.

Other conditions in this category include a feeling of anxiousness, feeling dizzy, changes in your vision, pain in the calves, and more.

Some possible side effects in this category are considered to be less common, but they still require medical attention. These include a general sensation of illness, sneezing or a sore throat, experiencing a seizure, blurring of your vision, or finding you are unable to talk. A temporary sensation of blindness, as well as a feeling of severe weakness taking place in just one half of your body, can also be placed in this category.

Some potential side effects of taking this medication do not usually require emergency medical attention. The only times you would need to see a healthcare professional if you experience any of these problems is if they don't go away or if they cause you major problems.

All of the potential side effects in this category are considered to be more common. They include common illnesses such as nausea, diarrhea and headaches, while back pain and constipation are also included.

New found changes to your nails are also included in this category. Problems can include brittleness, pain in the nail, a tender feeling, your nail moving away from the nail bed, or loss of nails.

Finally, problems such as a drop in appetite levels, an out of the ordinary feeling of tiredness, a rash on the skin or a swollen mouth are also included in this category.

It is important to remember that this is not an exhaustive list of possible side effects you may experience as a result of taking this medication. You should always consult the full list and speak to your physician if you do not understand. You can also talk to a healthcare professional if you are concerned about the problems side effects may cause you, and they will be able to help with some practical tips.

Not everyone will experience the same side effects when taking this drug, so you should not expect to have - or be free from - any particular one.

Dosage

Your physician will prescribe you the correct dosage of this medication for your needs, and you should always follow their instructions. This information will also usually be printed on the side of the box for you to refer back to later if you need to.

In addition, your physician will usually give you rules to follow regarding how often you need to take this medication and in what way. You should, again, make sure you adhere to these instructions.

However, some standard dosage information does exist for the purposes of general information only. While it should never override a bespoke dosage given to you by your physician, it can help prepare you for what you might expect when taking the drug.

Usually, adults who are prescribed this medication will be given 80 milligrams, and will need to take it once every day. For children, a physician will have to work out the correct dosage.

In order to take this medication correctly, there are some specific preparation and consumption instructions which you will need to follow. Firstly, you should dissolve the tablet in two ounces of water, and you should make sure that this is clear, fresh water - not carbonated or sparkling water. Then, you should stir the mixture so that the tablet disintegrates into little bits. It is important, however, not to crush it. You should also refrain from heating up this water.

You should consume this mixture immediately by drinking it. Some patients may have this medication given to them via a nasogastric tube. Once you have drunk the mixture, you should then add a further amount of water - between four and eight ounces - into the same receptacle, and again drink it straight away.

In the event that you miss a planned dosage of this medication, you should skip over it and wait for the next dose to come around. Once you have taken that dose, you should return to your normal dose plan. You should not double up your doses of oral osimertinib.

Interactions

Many medications can interact with others once they are inside the human body, and oral osimertinib is no exception.

In order to prevent the unpleasant effects of interactions from harming you while you take this medication, you should provide your doctor with a full list of all of the medications you are currently taking, and this should include both prescribed medications and over the counter substances. This is so that your physician can, if they judge it necessary, alter the balance of your medications.

Some medications, such as amifampridine, granisetron, citalopram, indapamide and more can cause serious interactions with oral osimertinib, and your physician is likely to take care around mixing these drugs. Some medications, such as rifampicin and primidone, can cause medium level interactions.

These lists are not exhaustive, so you should always ensure that your physician has all the information they need to identify and prevent any potential interactions before they happen.

Warnings

This medication comes with a number of associated warnings, and it is a good idea to familiarise yourself with them before you start to take the drug.

Your doctor should carry out regular check ups on you while you take this medication to ensure that it is working as it should. If you have any problems or questions while you take it, ensure you alert your physician to these.

It is possible that as a result of taking this medication your lungs may swell, which is known as pneumonitis. It is also possible that this medication will cause a condition known as interstitial lung disease. If you experience any of these problems, you should seek medical attention right away as they could be life threatening. Symptoms are in some cases like those associated with lung cancer. For that reason, you should seek medication attention if you experience increased or new-found coughing, a feverish feeling or difficulty breathing.

This medication can harm an unborn baby, so it is important for both women and men to use birth control to prevent problems. Women should use birth control both for the entirety of the treatment course and for six weeks (or longer) after the final dose is taken. Men, meanwhile, should use it both during the treatment and for four months after the last dose is completed.

In addition, it is possible that this medication can render a patient infertile, which means they are unable to have children. If you are planning to have children and are concerned about this, you should speak to your physician.

This list is not exhaustive. Even if you think that these warnings may not be relevant to you, you should make sure you read through the full list so that you are fully aware and do not miss any.

This medication is usually issued with an information booklet. You should keep this information booklet in a safe and accessible place, as you might need to refer to it later in your treatment.

Storage

When it comes to storage, it is vital that you keep your oral osimertinib in a location where it will not get damaged by unpleasant environmental conditions. For example, it is vital that you never freeze your oral osimertinib, and you should keep it in a location where it will not be affected by direct sunlight, lots of heat, moisture or other problems.

You should place your medication in a container while you are not using it, and keep it closed. This container ought to be stored at room temperature.

For safety reasons, it is imperative that you keep this medication out of the reach of children at all times. Even if you do not have children living with you, you should do this anyway to prevent any problems if children come to visit you in the future.

Although you should never stop taking this medication unless told to by a medical professional, you should ensure that you dispose of any leftover oral osimertinib which you no longer need. If you are unsure how to go about doing this appropriately, you should speak to a healthcare professional to find out.

Summary

Oral osimertinib treats those suffering from certain types of lung cancer by altering the growth of the cancer cells. This medication, which belongs to the antineoplastic group, is only available as a tablet, and must be prescribed by a physician.

There are several potential side effects associated with this medication, although there is no guarantee that you will or won't experience particular ones. Patients who experience problems like chest pain or a shortness of breath should seek medical help immediately. For less serious side effects, such as nausea or constipation, patients only need to speak to a healthcare professional if the effects are not going away or are causing significant issues.

Although standard dosages exist, you should follow the instructions given to you by your physician. If you miss a dose, you should wait until the next one is due. There are specific rules on how to take this medication which you should follow to ensure its effectiveness.

This medication comes with warnings, and you should familiarise yourself with all of them before you start taking it.

This medication may interact with others once inside your system, so you should provide your physician with an up to date list of any medications you are currently taking to prevent any problems.

Store this medication in a place that is out of the reach of children and where it cannot be harmed by conditions such as excessive light or heat.