Tafinlar is a brand-name prescription medication. It’s FDA-approved to treat the following in adults:

Tafinlar is approved to treat these conditions in certain situations. Also, this medication has limitations on its use. For more details, see the “Tafinlar uses” section below.

Drug details

Tafinlar contains the active drug dabrafenib. Tafinlar is a type of targeted therapy. Specifically, Tafinlar belongs to a drug class called BRAF kinase inhibitors.

Tafinlar comes as an oral capsule. It’s available in two strengths: 50 milligrams (mg) and 75 mg.

Effectiveness

For information about the effectiveness of Tafinlar, see the “Tafinlar uses” section below.

Tafinlar is available only as a brand-name medication. It’s not currently available in generic form.

A generic drug is an exact copy of the active drug in a brand-name medication. Generics typically cost less than brand-name drugs.

Tafinlar can cause mild or serious side effects. The following lists contain some of the key side effects that may occur while taking Tafinlar. These lists do not include all possible side effects.

For more information about the possible side effects of Tafinlar, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. They can give you tips on how to manage any side effects that may be concerning or bothersome.

Keep in mind that the possible side effects can vary depending on whether you’re taking Tafinlar in combination with trametinib (Mekinist).

Note: The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) tracks side effects of drugs it has approved. If you would like to notify the FDA about a side effect you’ve had with Tafinlar, you can do so through MedWatch.

Mild side effects

Mild side effects* of Tafinlar include:

Most of these side effects may go away within a few days to a couple of weeks. If they become more severe or don’t go away, talk with your doctor or pharmacist.

* This is a partial list of mild side effects from Tafinlar. To learn about other mild side effects, talk with your doctor or pharmacist, or view Tafinlar’s prescribing information.
† For more information about this side effect, see “Side effect details” below.

Serious side effects

Serious side effects from Tafinlar aren’t common, but they can occur. Call your doctor right away if you have serious side effects. Call 911 or your local emergency number if your symptoms feel life threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency.

Serious side effects and their symptoms can include:

  • Heart problems such as cardiomyopathy (weakened heart muscle) or heart failure (a condition in which your heart does not pump blood efficiently). Symptoms can include:
    • swelling in your lower legs due to fluid buildup
    • chest pain or pressure
    • dizziness
    • feeling as though your heart is pounding or skipping beats
  • Eye problems such as uveitis (swelling in the middle of your eye). Symptoms can include:
    • changes in your vision
    • eye pain
  • Severe febrile reaction (a side effect that can occur with a fever). Symptoms can include:
    • chills or rigors (intense shivering)
  • Hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), which may lead to diabetes. Symptoms of high blood sugar may include:
    • increased thirst or hunger
    • urinating more frequently than is typical
    • weight loss
  • New cancers.*
  • Bleeding.*
  • Serious skin reaction.*
  • Allergic reaction.*

* For more information about this side effect, see “Side effect details” below.

Side effect details

Here’s some detail on certain side effects this drug may cause. To find out how often side effects occurred in clinical trials, see the prescribing information for Tafinlar.

New cancers

The use of Tafinlar to treat cancer may increase the risk of new types of cancers. This may occur whether you take Tafinlar alone or in combination with trametinib to treat your condition.

Overall, new cancers were not a common side effect among people in Tafinlar’s clinical trials. Of the people who developed new cancers, skin cancers were more common than other cancer types. One of the more common skin cancers seen was cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma (also called squamous cell carcinoma). This type of cancer starts in the epidermis, which is the outermost layer of your skin.

Watch for symptoms of skin cancer while you’re taking Tafinlar, such as:

  • new sores, lumps, or warts (small growths) on your skin
  • moles that change in color or size

You may be wondering how a cancer treatment such as Tafinlar could increase the risk of new cancers. It’s likely because the drug can affect different signals and processes involved in cell growth. When these processes are disturbed, other changes can occur, such as new gene mutations (abnormal changes). As a result, some cells may grow more rapidly than usual, potentially leading to cancer.

Tafinlar is used to treat certain cancers that are BRAF-positive. This means the cancer contains abnormal BRAF proteins due to specific gene mutations (changes). Tafinlar works by blocking the action of these abnormal BRAF proteins to help stop cancer cells from growing and spreading.

In rare cases, Tafinlar treatment may lead to new tumors because the drug can increase the growth of cells with wild-type BRAF proteins. These are cells that do not have certain mutations in the BRAF gene. Because of the risk of new tumors, Tafinlar is not used to treat wild-type BRAF tumors.

What you can do

Before and during Tafinlar treatment, you’ll see a dermatologist. They’ll check for new skin cancers. You’ll likely see the dermatologist for up to 6 months after your last dose.

While you take Tafinlar, avoid tanning beds and direct sunlight. If you have to be in the sun, be sure to protect your skin by wearing sunscreen, a hat, and protective clothing. Tell your doctor right away if you notice changes in your skin or any other new or unusual symptoms.

If you develop a new cancer that starts in your skin, your doctor will determine if you should continue Tafinlar treatment. They may have you keep taking Tafinlar to help keep your “old” cancer from growing and spreading. In some cases, your doctor may recommend other treatments for the new cancer. For example, they may perform surgery to remove it.

If you develop a new cancer that isn’t skin-related, your doctor may check you for new gene mutations. If they confirm your new cancer has a mutation of a gene called RAS, they’ll likely have you stop Tafinlar treatment.

Bleeding

Tafinlar can cause bleeding problems. In some cases, bleeding can be severe and life threatening. In clinical trials, this side effect occurred only when Tafinlar was taken in combination with trametinib. However, this side effect could still happen when Tafinlar is taken alone.

In Tafinlar’s clinical trials, some people had serious bleeding in their digestive tract. Symptoms of this bleeding may include:

Also in these trials, some people who took Tafinlar had bleeding in their brain. In very rare cases, brain bleeding led to death.

What you can do

Tell your doctor right away if you have any symptoms of bleeding problems. Besides the symptoms of digestive bleeding listed above, other signs of a bleeding problem may include:

  • frequent nosebleeds
  • heavy or unusual vaginal bleeding
  • excessive bruising
  • gum bleeding
  • coughing up blood

If you have bleeding problems while taking Tafinlar, your doctor may pause your treatment with the drug until the problem goes away. If you have serious bleeding, they’ll likely stop your Tafinlar treatment. Your doctor may then prescribe a different drug to treat your condition.

Skin reactions

Skin reactions may occur with Tafinlar. These skin reactions can be mild or serious. Changes in your skin may occur whether you take Tafinlar alone or in combination with trametinib to treat your condition.

The following skin reactions were more commonly seen in people who took Tafinlar alone in clinical trials:

  • Thickening or hardening of the outer layer of the skin.
  • Warts (small growths, the symptoms of which can vary by type).
  • Hand-foot syndrome, which typically affects the palms and soles of the feet. The syndrome may cause pain, thickening, peeling, and reddening or deepening of skin color.

These side effects are typically mild. In rare cases, they can be severe.

Other skin reactions, such as rash and dry skin, occurred in people who took Tafinlar in combination with trametinib in clinical trials.

Very serious and life threatening skin reactions have also been reported with Tafinlar. These include Stevens-Johnson syndrome and DRESS syndrome. (DRESS stands for “drug reaction with eosinophilia and systemic symptoms”.) However, these reactions were not seen during clinical trials. They were reported in people who took Tafinlar after the FDA approved the drug. It isn’t known for sure if Tafinlar caused the reactions.

What you can do

If you have a skin reaction while taking Tafinlar, your doctor may pause your treatment until the reaction goes away. Then they may restart Tafinlar at a lower dose.

Talk with your doctor right away if you have any symptoms of a severe skin reaction, such as skin blistering or peeling. Your doctor will likely have you stop Tafinlar treatment. They may prescribe a different drug to treat the cancer instead.

Also, keep in mind that changes in your skin can be symptoms of skin cancer. Tafinlar may increase the risk of new cancers, including skin cancer. For more information, see “New cancers” above.

Allergic reaction

As with most drugs, some people can have an allergic reaction after taking Tafinlar. In clinical trials, some people had allergic reactions involving skin blisters.

Symptoms of a mild allergic reaction can include:

A more severe allergic reaction is rare but possible. Symptoms of a severe allergic reaction can include:

  • swelling under your skin, typically in your eyelids, lips, hands, or feet
  • swelling of your tongue, mouth, or throat
  • trouble breathing

Call your doctor right away if you have an allergic reaction to Tafinlar, as the reaction could become severe. Call 911 or your local emergency number if your symptoms feel life threatening or if you think you’re having a medical emergency.

As with all medications, the cost of Tafinlar can vary. To find current prices for the 50-milligram (mg) and 75-mg strengths of Tafinlar capsules in your area, check out GoodRx.com.


The cost you find on GoodRx.com is what you may pay without insurance. The actual price you’ll pay depends on your insurance plan, your location, and the pharmacy you use.

Keep in mind that you may be able to get a 90-day supply of Tafinlar. If approved by your insurance company, getting a 90-day supply of the drug could reduce your number of trips to the pharmacy and help lower the cost. If you’re interested in this option, check with your doctor, pharmacist, or insurance company.

It’s important to note that you may have to get Tafinlar at a specialty pharmacy. This type of pharmacy is authorized to carry specialty medications. These are drugs that may be expensive or may require help from healthcare professionals to be used safely and effectively.

Before approving coverage for Tafinlar, your insurance company may require you to get prior authorization. This means that your doctor and insurance company will need to communicate about your prescription before the insurance company will cover the drug. The insurance company will review the prior authorization request and decide if the drug will be covered.

If you’re not sure whether you’ll need to get prior authorization for Tafinlar, contact your insurance company.

Financial and insurance assistance

If you need financial support to pay for Tafinlar, or if you need help understanding your insurance coverage, help is available.

Novartis, the manufacturer of Tafinlar, offers two programs: Novartis Oncology Universal Co-Pay Program and Patient Assistance Now Oncology.

If you take Tafinlar for non-small cell lung cancer and would like to learn more, visit this site.

If you take Tafinlar for melanoma and would like more information, visit this site.

You can also call these numbers to learn more about each program:

  • Novartis Oncology Universal Co-Pay Program: 877-577-7756
  • Patient Assistance Now Oncology: 800-282-7630

If you take Tafinlar for thyroid cancer, you can call the numbers above.

To learn more about saving money on prescriptions, check out this article.

Mail-order pharmacies

Tafinlar may be available through a mail-order pharmacy. Using this service may help lower the drug’s cost and allow you to get your medication without leaving home.

If recommended by your doctor, you may be able to receive a 90-day supply of Tafinlar, so there’s less concern about running out of the medication. If you’re interested in this option, check with your doctor, pharmacist, or insurance company. Some Medicare plans may help cover the cost of mail-order medications.

If you don’t have insurance, you can ask your doctor or pharmacist about online pharmacy options.

Generic version

Tafinlar is not available in a generic form. A generic drug is an exact copy of the active drug in a brand-name medication. Generics tend to cost less than brand-name drugs.

Your doctor will likely have you start with the recommended dosage of Tafinlar. They may adjust it over time, depending on whether you experience any side effects and how severe they are.

The following information describes dosages that are commonly used or recommended. However, be sure to take the dosage your doctor prescribes for you. Your doctor will determine the best dosage to fit your needs.

Drug forms

Tafinlar comes as an oral capsule.

Drug strengths (50 mg and 75 mg)

Tafinlar is available in two strengths: 50 milligrams (mg) and 75 mg.

Dosage for non-small cell lung cancer

Tafinlar is used in adults as part of a combination* treatment for a specific type of non-small cell lung cancer that’s metastatic. (Metastatic cancer has spread to other parts of the body.)

The recommended dosage of Tafinlar for this purpose is 150 mg twice daily. You should take each dose 12 hours apart.

* For this use, Tafinlar is prescribed with trametinib (Mekinist). For more details about Tafinlar for lung cancer, see the “Tafinlar uses” section below.

Dosage for melanoma

Tafinlar is approved for use in adults to treat melanoma (a type of skin cancer) in certain situations.

The recommended dosage of Tafinlar for this purpose is 150 mg twice daily. You should take each dose 12 hours apart.

Depending on whether your melanoma can be removed with surgery, Tafinlar may be prescribed alone or in combination with trametinib (Mekinist). For more details about Tafinlar for melanoma, see the “Tafinlar uses” section below.

Dosage for thyroid cancer

Tafinlar is used in adults as part of a combination* treatment for a specific type of thyroid cancer that’s either locally advanced or metastatic. (Locally advanced cancer has spread to nearby tissues. Metastatic cancer has spread to other parts of the body.)

The recommended dosage of Tafinlar for this purpose is 150 mg twice daily. You should take each dose 12 hours apart.

* For this use, Tafinlar is prescribed in combination with trametinib (Mekinist). For more details about Tafinlar for thyroid cancer, see the “Tafinlar uses” section below.

What if I miss a dose?

If you miss a dose of Tafinlar, take it as soon as possible unless there are less than 6 hours until your next dose. In this situation, skip the missed dose. You should not take an extra dose to make up for a missed dose.

To help make sure that you don’t miss a dose, try using a medication reminder. This can include setting an alarm or using a timer. You could also download a reminder app on your phone.

Will I need to take this drug long term?

Tafinlar is typically prescribed as a long-term treatment.

If your doctor prescribes Tafinlar as adjuvant* therapy for melanoma, you’ll usually take it for up to 1 year. For the other conditions Tafinlar treats, you’ll likely take the drug as long as it’s safe and effective for you.

* Adjuvant therapy is a treatment that helps prevent cancer from returning. It’s given after a surgery that’s meant to remove tumors.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approves prescription drugs such as Tafinlar for certain indications. The term indications refers to uses or conditions a drug is FDA-approved to treat.

Tafinlar may also be used off-label for other conditions. Off-label drug use is when an FDA-approved drug is prescribed for a purpose other than what it’s approved for.

Tafinlar is used to treat certain cancers that are BRAF-positive. BRAF is a protein made by the BRAF gene. This protein can be affected by certain gene mutations (abnormal changes) called BRAF V600E and BRAF V600K. When the BRAF protein is abnormal, it can increase the growth and spread of cancer cells.

Tafinlar is FDA-approved in adults to treat BRAF-positive forms of lung cancer, skin cancer, and thyroid cancer. However, the drug has certain limitations on its use. Tafinlar is not used to treat “wild-type” BRAF tumors. These are cells that do not have certain mutations in the BRAF gene. Instead, Tafinlar is used to treat certain types of cancer that are BRAF-positive.

Before your doctor prescribes Tafinlar, they’ll order testing to confirm your cancer is BRAF-positive. (For more information about this, see the “Common questions about Tafinlar” section below.)

Tafinlar for non-small cell lung cancer

Tafinlar is FDA-approved to treat non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) that:

  • is metastatic, which means the cancer has spread to other parts of the body
  • has a specific gene mutation called BRAF V600E

For this use, Tafinlar is prescribed in combination with trametinib (Mekinist).

Non-small cell lung cancer explained

NSCLC refers to a group of cancers that affect the lungs. With metastatic NSCLC, the cancer often spreads to the brain or bones. It can also spread to other parts of the body. Symptoms of metastatic NSCLC can include:

  • trouble swallowing
  • difficulty breathing
  • worsening cough
  • chest pain

To learn more about NSCLC and other lung cancer treatment options, see our cancer hub and lung cancer hub.

Effectiveness for non-small cell lung cancer

Tafinlar has been found to be effective in treating metastatic NSCLC that has a BRAF V600E gene mutation. The drug is mentioned in treatment guidelines from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN). The guidelines say that Tafinlar in combination with trametinib is the preferred option for treating this type of NSCLC.

For details about how Tafinlar performed in clinical trials, see the drug’s prescribing information.

Tafinlar for melanoma

Tafinlar is FDA-approved to treat melanoma(a type of skin cancer) in certain situations, as described below.

Tafinlar for melanoma that’s metastatic or can’t be removed with surgery

Tafinlar is used to treat melanoma that:

  • is either metastatic (has spread to other parts of the body) or can’t be removed by surgery, and
  • has a specific gene mutation called BRAF V600E

For this purpose, Tafinlar is prescribed alone or in combination with trametinib (Mekinist).

Tafinlar is also used to treat melanoma that:

  • is either metastatic or can’t be removed by surgery, and
  • has a BRAF V600K gene mutation

For this purpose, Tafinlar is prescribed in combination with trametinib.

Tafinlar for melanoma that was removed with surgery

Tafinlar is FDA-approved to treat melanoma that was removed with surgery and that:

  • affects the lymph nodes, and
  • has a BRAF V600E or BRAF V600K gene mutation

For this purpose, Tafinlar is prescribed as an adjuvant therapy in combination with trametinib after you have had surgery to remove the cancer. Adjuvant therapy is a treatment that helps prevent cancer from returning.

Melanoma explained

Melanoma most often occurs in the skin. However, it’s possible that it may form in other parts of the body, such as the eyes. If the cancer is metastatic, it could spread to other organs. Symptoms of melanoma can include:

  • a spot on the skin that bleeds or becomes itchy or tender
  • a skin sore that doesn’t heal
  • changes in the size, color, or shape of a mole or spot on the skin
  • a new mole or spot on the skin

You can learn more about melanoma at our cancer hub and dermatology and skin care hub.

Effectiveness for melanoma

Tafinlar has been found to be effective in treating the types of melanoma described above. The drug is included in the melanoma treatment guidelines from the NCCN.

To read about how Tafinlar performed in clinical trials, see the drug’s prescribing information.

Tafinlar for thyroid cancer

Tafinlar is FDA-approved to treat a type of thyroid cancer called anaplastic thyroid cancer (ATC).

Tafinlar is used to treat ATC that:

  • is either locally advanced (the cancer has spread to nearby tissues) or metastatic (the cancer has spread to other parts of the body)
  • has a BRAF V600E gene mutation

For this use, Tafinlar is prescribed in combination with trametinib (Mekinist).

Thyroid cancer explained

Thyroid cancer occurs in the thyroid gland, which is in your neck. The gland helps regulate your heart rate, breathing, and other functions of your body.

ATC is a rare form of thyroid cancer in which the cancer cells look very different from typical thyroid cells. In the beginning, symptoms of ATC can include trouble swallowing and a lump in your neck. As ATC grows, your voice may become hoarse, your lymph nodes can get larger, and you may develop a cough. When ATC is metastatic, it can spread to organs in your body.

To learn more about cancer, including other treatment options, check out our cancer hub.

Effectiveness for thyroid cancer

Tafinlar has been found to be effective in treating the type of ATC described above. Guidelines from the NCCN state that Tafinlar in combination with trametinib is a preferred treatment option for metastatic ATC.

To read about how Tafinlar performed in clinical trials, see the drug’s prescribing information.

Tafinlar and children

Tafinlar is not approved for use in children. It’s unknown whether the drug is safe or effective for use in children.

Tafinlar is prescribed to treat certain types of cancer that have gene mutations (abnormal changes) in a specific gene. (To learn more about the conditions that Tafinlar is used to treat, see the “Tafinlar uses” section above.)

What is Tafinlar’s mechanism of action?

How a drug works in the body is called its mechanism of action. Tafinlar is a type of targeted therapy. These therapies work by acting on specific targets that increase the growth and spread of cancer cells.

Specifically, Tafinlar is used to treat certain cancers that are BRAF-positive. BRAF is a protein made by the BRAF gene. Gene mutations (abnormal changes) called BRAF V600E and BRAF V600K can affect the BRAF protein. When this occurs, it can abnormally increase the growth and spread of cancer cells.

Tafinlar blocks abnormal BRAF proteins from sending signals that tell cancer cells to grow and spread. This can help slow the growth of your cancer and decrease the size of your tumor.

How long does it take to work?

Tafinlar starts working soon after your first dose. Your doctor will have you get scans or other tests after a few months of treatment. This testing will help your doctor determine if Tafinlar is working to treat the cancer.

Tafinlar is prescribed with trametinib (Mekinist) to treat certain forms of non-small cell lung cancer, melanoma,and anaplastic thyroid cancer.

In some cases, cancer cells can become resistant to Tafinlar. Resistance happens when cancer cells mutate (change) in a way that prevents a drug from working to treat the cancer. Your doctor may prescribe Tafinlar with trametinib to help lower the risk of resistance to Tafinlar treatment.

Like Tafinlar, trametinib is a targeted therapy. It blocks specific targets in the body to help stop cancer cells from growing and spreading.

Your doctor will determine if Tafinlar should be taken alone or in combination with trametinib.

Alcohol should not interact with Tafinlar.

If you drink alcohol, it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor. They can advise you on how much alcohol, if any, is safe for you to drink with your condition.

Tafinlar can interact with several other medications. It may also interact with certain supplements and certain foods.

Different interactions can cause different effects. For instance, some interactions can interfere with how well a drug works. Other interactions can increase side effects or make them more severe.

Tafinlar and other medications

Below is a list of medications that can interact with Tafinlar. This list does not contain all drugs that may interact with Tafinlar.

Certain drugs can increase the risk of Tafinlar’s side effects, including:

  • Strong CYP3A4 and CYP2C8 inhibitors. Taking these medications with Tafinlar can increase your risk of side effects. Some examples include:

Certain drugs can make Tafinlar less effective, such as:

  • Strong CYP3A4 and moderate CYP2C8 inducers. Taking these types of medications with Tafinlar can make Tafinlar less effective. One example is rifampin (Rifadin), an antibiotic.

Tafinlar might affect certain other drugs in a way that makes them less effective. Some examples include:

Before taking Tafinlar, talk with your doctor and pharmacist. Tell them about all prescription, over-the-counter, and other drugs you take. Also, tell them about any vitamins, herbs, and supplements you take. Sharing this information can help you avoid potential interactions.

If you have questions about drug interactions that may affect you, ask your doctor or pharmacist.

Tafinlar and herbs and supplements

Taking Tafinlar with an herbal supplement called St. John’s wort can make Tafinlar less effective than usual in treating your condition. St. John’s wort is often used for depression.

Other herbs or supplements may also interact with Tafinlar. To be safe, check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any of these products with Tafinlar.

Tafinlar and foods

It’s best to avoid grapefruit and grapefruit juice while taking Tafinlar. Consuming them with the drug may increase your risk of side effects from Tafinlar or make them more severe.

Also, it’s important to take Tafinlar at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after a meal. Taking Tafinlar with food lowers the level of the drug in your body, which may make Tafinlar less effective than usual.

You should take Tafinlar according to the instructions your doctor gives you.

Tafinlar comes as an oral capsule that you swallow whole.

When to take

Tafinlar is usually taken twice daily. You should take each dose 12 hours apart. For example, you can take Tafinlar at 6 a.m. and 6 p.m.

Be sure to take Tafinlar at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after a meal.

To help make sure that you don’t miss a dose, try using a medication reminder. This can include setting an alarm or using a timer. You could also download a reminder app on your phone.

Accessible labels and containers

If your prescription label is hard to read, talk with your doctor or pharmacist. Some pharmacies offer labels that have large print, braille, or a code you scan with a smartphone to convert text to speech. If your local pharmacy doesn’t have these options, your doctor or pharmacist may be able to direct you to one that does.

If you have trouble opening medication bottles, ask your pharmacist if they can put Tafinlar in an easy-open container. They also may be able to recommend tools that can make it simpler to open lids.

Taking Tafinlar with food

You should not take Tafinlar with food. Be sure to take each dose at least 1 hour before or 2 hours after a meal. Taking Tafinlar with food lowers the level of the drug in your body, which may make Tafinlar less effective than usual.

Can Tafinlar capsules be crushed, broken, or opened?

No. You should not crush, break, or open Tafinlar capsules.

Tafinlar is not safe to take during pregnancy. The drug has not been studied in pregnant people. Based on the findings of animal trials, Tafinlar may cause harmful effects in a fetus.

If you’re able to become pregnant, your doctor will have you take a pregnancy test before you start treatment with Tafinlar. This is to confirm that you are not pregnant.

If you’re pregnant or planning to become pregnant, talk with your doctor. They can review other cancer treatment options with you.

Tafinlar and fertility

Taking Tafinlar may harm your fertility (the ability to become pregnant or make someone pregnant). The drug’s impact on fertility has not been studied in humans. However, animal trials have shown that Tafinlar may affect fertility. Keep in mind that animal trials do not always show what will happen in humans.

If you and your partner are planning a pregnancy or have concerns about fertility, talk with your doctor before starting Tafinlar treatment.

Tafinlar is not safe to take during pregnancy. If you’re sexually active and you or your partner can become pregnant, talk with your doctor about nonhormonal birth control while you take Tafinlar.

Tafinlar can make hormonal contraceptives, such as birth control pills, less effective than usual. So it’s important to use nonhormonal birth control, such as condoms.

For more information about taking Tafinlar during pregnancy, see the “Tafinlar and pregnancy” section above.

For females taking Tafinlar. If you’re a female* and can become pregnant, you should use nonhormonal birth control while taking Tafinlar. You should continue using birth control for 2 weeks after your last dose.

For males taking Tafinlar. If you’re a male* and your sexual partner is pregnant or able to become pregnant, you should use condoms while taking Tafinlar. This applies even if you have had a vasectomy (a type of birth control). You should continue to use birth control for 2 weeks after your last dose.

* Sex and gender exist on spectrums. Use of the terms “male” and “female” in this article refers to sex assigned at birth.

You should not breastfeed during Tafinlar treatment and for 2 weeks after your last dose. This is based on the possibility of serious side effects in a child who is breastfed. The drug has not been studied in people who are breastfeeding to learn about its effects on breast milk.

If you’re breastfeeding or considering it, talk with your doctor. They can advise you of other feeding options for your child. Your doctor can also recommend treatments besides Taflinar.

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about Tafinlar.

How does genetic testing for Tafinlar work?

Genetic testing for Taflinar involves examining your cancer cells for certain gene mutations (abnormal changes). The testing is necessary because the cancers that the drug is used to treat must have specific gene mutations.

Before your doctor prescribes Tafinlar, they’ll likely order a biopsy. This is a procedure that involves removing a small tissue sample from your body. The sample is then sent for genetic testing.

Knowing if your cancer cells have certain gene mutations can help your doctor identify the right treatment options for the cancer. You can talk with them to learn more.

What will my doctor check for during Tafinlar treatment?

To watch for potentially serious side effects of Tafinlar, your doctor will monitor you regularly with various tests and physical exams. Here are some types of monitoring you can expect before, during, and after treatment with Tafinlar:

  • Pregnancy test. If you can become pregnant, your doctor will likely order a pregnancy test for you before you start Tafinlar treatment. This is to confirm that you are not pregnant because the drug is not safe to take during pregnancy. To learn more, see the “Tafinlar and pregnancy” section above.
  • Left ventricular ejection fraction test. Tafinlar may cause heart problems such as cardiomyopathy (weakened heart muscle). To check how well your heart pumps blood, you’ll have left ventricular ejection fraction tests before and during Tafinlar treatment.
  • Skin exam. Tafinlar may cause mild and serious skin reactions. To monitor your skin, a dermatologist will likely give you skin exams before, during, and after Tafinlar treatment. For more information, see “Skin reactions” in the “Tafinlar side effects” section above.
  • Eye exam. Tafinlar may cause eye problems such as uveitis (swelling in the middle of your eye). To monitor your eye health, you’ll likely receive eye exams before and during Tafinlar treatment.
  • Blood sugar level test. Tafinlar may cause hyperglycemia (high blood sugar). If you have diabetes or prediabetes, taking Tafinlar may make it challenging to manage your blood sugar level. If you have either condition, you may receive blood sugar level tests before and during Tafinlar treatment. To learn more, see the “Tafinlar precautions” section below.

If you have additional questions about Tafinlar and what tests you may need, talk with your doctor.

Why is Tafinlar prescribed to treat cancers with some gene mutations and not others?

Tafinlar is effective for treating only certain types of cancer that have specific gene mutations (abnormal changes).

Tafinlar is prescribed to treat certain cancers that are BRAF-positive. This means the cancer cells contain abnormal BRAF proteins due to specific gene mutations. Tafinlar blocks abnormal BRAF proteins from sending signals that tell cancer cells to grow and spread.

In rare cases, Tafinlar treatment may lead to new cancers because the drug may increase the growth of cells with wild-type BRAF proteins. (These are cells that do not have mutations in the BRAF gene.) Because of this, Tafinlar is not prescribed to treat wild-type BRAF tumors.

Before your doctor prescribes Tafinlar, they’ll order genetic testing to learn more about your cancer cells. By identifying any gene mutations, your doctor can determine if the drug is right for you.

This drug comes with several precautions. Before taking Tafinlar, talk with your doctor about your health history. Tafinlar may not be right for you if you have certain medical conditions or other factors affecting your health. These include:

  • Diabetes or prediabetes. Tafinlar may cause hyperglycemia. If you have diabetes or prediabetes, taking Tafinlar may make it challenging to manage your blood sugar level. Before taking Tafinlar, be sure to tell your doctor if you have either condition. They may recommend monitoring your blood sugar level more often than usual. They may also suggest other changes to your diabetes treatment plan.
  • G6PD deficiency. If you have low levels of an enzyme called glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD), taking Tafinlar can increase the risk of hemolytic anemia. While you take Tafinlar, you and your doctor should watch closely for symptoms of hemolytic anemia. These may include dizziness, weakness, shortness of breath, and jaundice. If you develop these symptoms with Tafinlar, talk with your doctor.
  • Heart or vision problems. People with severe heart or eye problems were not included in clinical trials of Tafinlar. So it isn’t known if having these problems could increase the risk of side effects while taking the drug. Your doctor can advise you on whether Tafinlar is right for you.
  • Severe liver or kidney problems. People with severe liver or kidney problems were not included in clinical trials of Tafinlar. So it isn’t known if these problems could increase the risk of side effects while taking the medication. Your doctor can help determine if it’s safe for you to try the medication.
  • Allergic reaction. If you’ve had an allergic reaction to Tafinlar or any of its ingredients, your doctor will likely not prescribe Tafinlar. Ask them what other medications may be better options for you.
  • Pregnancy. Tafinlar is not safe to take during pregnancy. For more information, see the “Tafinlar and pregnancy” section above.
  • Breastfeeding. Tafinlar is not safe to take while breastfeeding. For more information, see the “Tafinlar and breastfeeding” section above.

Note: For more information about the potential negative effects of Tafinlar, see the “Tafinlar side effects” section above.

Do not take more Tafinlar than your doctor recommends. For some drugs, doing so may lead to unwanted side effects or overdose.

What to do in case you take too much Tafinlar

If you think you’ve taken too much of this drug, call your doctor. You can also call the American Association of Poison Control Centers at 800-222-1222 or use its online tool. However, if your symptoms are severe, call 911 or your local emergency number, or go to the nearest emergency room right away.

When you get Tafinlar from the pharmacy, the pharmacist will add an expiration date to the label on the bottle. This date is typically 1 year from the date they dispensed the medication.

The expiration date helps guarantee that the medication is effective during this time. The current stance of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is to avoid taking expired medications. If you have unused medication that has gone past the expiration date, talk with your pharmacist about whether you might still be able to take it.

Storage

How long a medication remains good to use can depend on many factors, including how and where you store the medication.

You should store Tafinlar capsules at room temperature (68°F to 77°F/20°C to 25°C) in a tightly sealed container. Avoid storing this medication in areas where it could get damp or wet, such as a bathroom.

Disposal

If you no longer need to take Tafinlar and have leftover medication, it’s important to dispose of it safely. This helps prevent others, including children and pets, from taking the drug by accident. It also helps keep the drug from harming the environment.

This article provides several useful tips on medication disposal. You can also ask your pharmacist for information about how to dispose of your medication.

Disclaimer: Medical News Today has made every effort to make certain that all information is factually correct, comprehensive, and up to date. However, this article should not be used as a substitute for the knowledge and expertise of a licensed healthcare professional. You should always consult your doctor or another healthcare professional before taking any medication. The drug information contained herein is subject to change and is not intended to cover all possible uses, directions, precautions, warnings, drug interactions, allergic reactions, or adverse effects. The absence of warnings or other information for a given drug does not indicate that the drug or drug combination is safe, effective, or appropriate for all patients or all specific uses.