Methotrexate and gefitinib have similar side effects, the most common of which are nausea, diarrhoea and a skin rash. Other possible side effects include: vomiting, poor appetite, weightloss, acne, dry skin, itch and a feeling of listlessness. An allergic reaction is always a possibility when taking any medication. If you experience any shortness of breath, wheezing, difficulty breathing, facial numbness, swelling or a rash, please notify a doctor as soon as possible.
The most serious known side effect of gefitinib is the development of Interstitial Lung Disease(ILD). This is a condition where the lungs are damaged by inflammation and become abnormally thickened. If severe, it can stop the lungs working properly. ILD occurs in approximately three in 1000 people taking the drug indefinitely (e.g. cancer patients who take this drug for life).These figures have been calculated from 92,000 people taking gefitinib who already have lung cancer. Therefore, it is possible that the lung cancer in combination with the drug may have contributed to the development of ILD. All the evidence available would suggest that seven doses of the gefitinib tablet should be safe, and the risk of developing ILD from this exceedingly low. Besides having lung cancer, those most likely to develop ILD were those older than 55 years, male, smokers and people of Japanese ethnicity.
By excluding most of these risk factors in our participants, including those with existing respiratory disease, and by giving gefitinib for a maximum of seven days, we believe the risk of developing ILD is minimal. The usual practice for anyone taking methotrexate alone for ectopic pregnancy is to avoid getting pregnant (use contraception) and not to breastfeed for three months. This advice also applies to gefitinib and methotrexate.