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porfimer

Pronunciation: POR fi mer

Brand: Photofrin

What is the most important information I should know about porfimer?

Multum donot

You should not receive this medication if you are allergic to porfimer, or if you have porphyria (a genetic enzyme disorder that causes symptoms affecting the skin or nervous system).

Before you receive porfimer, tell your doctor if you have liver or kidney disease.

Multum nosun

Porfimer may increase the sensitivity of your skin and eyes to sunlight, bright light, or car headlights. Avoid exposing your eyes and skin to natural sunlight and bright indoor lights for 30 to 90 days after you are treated with porfimer.

Multum donot

This medication may cause your eyes to be more sensitive to oncoming headlights while you are driving. Avoid driving at night until this effect wears off.

What is porfimer?

Porfimer makes your body's tissues more sensitive to the effects of light.

Porfimer is used together with "photodynamic" laser light therapy to reduce the size of tumors in the lungs or esophagus (the tube that connects your mouth and stomach).

Porfimer may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

What should I discuss with my healthcare provider before receiving porfimer?

Multum donot

You should not receive this medication if you are allergic to porfimer, or if you have porphyria (a genetic enzyme disorder that causes symptoms affecting the skin or nervous system).

To make sure you can safely receive porfimer, tell your doctor if you have any of these other conditions:

  • liver disease;
  • kidney disease; or
  • a history of stroke or blood clot.
Multum nopreg

FDA pregnancy category C. It is not known whether porfimer will harm an unborn baby. Tell your doctor if you are pregnant or plan to become pregnant while being treated with this medication.

Multum nobrfeed

It is not known whether porfimer passes into breast milk or if it could harm a nursing baby. You should not breast-feed while you are receiving porfimer.

How is porfimer given?

Porfimer is injected into a vein through an IV. You will receive this injection in a clinic or hospital setting.

Multum emt

Tell your caregivers if you feel any burning, pain, or swelling around the IV needle when porfimer is injected.

You will receive laser light treatment within 40 to 50 hours after your porfimer infusion. A second laser light treatment may be given within 96 to 120 hours after your porfimer infusion.

Multum nosun

Porfimer will make your skin and eyes more sensitive to light and severe sunburn may result. For at least 30 days after you are treated with porfimer, you must protect your eyes and skin from natural sunlight and bright indoor lights (such as lights in a doctor's or dentist's office, operating room lamps, tanning beds, bright halogen lights, or unshaded light bulbs).

Multum nosun

To avoid exposing your skin to sunlight, keep all parts of your skin covered with clothing and wear dark sunglasses when you are outdoors. Sunscreen will not prevent a severe skin reaction to sunlight during the 30-day period after your treatment with porfimer.

You may be more sensitive to sunlight and bright light for up to 90 days or longer. To determine when this effect has worn off, you may test your skin to see if it is still sensitive to sunlight.

To test your skin for sun sensitivity:

  • Expose a small area of skin to direct sunlight or bright indoor light for about 10 minutes.
  • Do not use the skin on your face or around your eyes to test for light sensitivity.
  • If the exposed skin develops redness, swelling, or blistering within 24 hours, wait another 2 weeks before testing the skin again.
  • If your exposure to sunlight will increase because of travel or relocation within the 90-day period after you receive porfimer, test your skin again.

Exposure to indirect sunlight (sun shining through a window) is not as harmful and will actually help your body eliminate porfimer from your tissues. Follow your doctor's instructions about the best amount of light exposure.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Call your doctor for instructions if you miss an appointment for your laser light therapy. The timing of your laser light therapy in relation to your porfimer infusion is important for the treatment to be effective.

What happens if I overdose?

Since this medication is given by a healthcare professional in a medical setting, an overdose is unlikely to occur.

What should I avoid after receiving porfimer?

Multum nosun

Avoid exposing your eyes and skin to natural sunlight and bright indoor lights for 30 to 90 days after you are treated with porfimer.

Multum donot

This medication may cause your eyes to be more sensitive to oncoming headlights while you are driving. Avoid driving at night until this effect wears off.

What are the possible side effects of porfimer?

Multum emt

Get emergency medical help if you have any of these signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Multum donot

Call your doctor at once if you have a serious side effect such as:

  • pale skin, feeling light-headed or short of breath, rapid heart rate, trouble concentrating;
  • cough with yellow or green mucus, stabbing chest pain, feeling short of breath, coughing up mucus or blood;
  • tight feeling in your throat, trouble swallowing;
  • fever, chills;
  • sudden numbness or weakness, problems with vision, speech, or balance;
  • pain, swelling, warmth, or redness in one or both legs;
  • feeling very thirsty or hot, being unable to urinate, heavy sweating, or hot and dry skin; or
  • anxiety, sweating, pale skin, severe shortness of breath, wheezing, gasping for breath, cough with foamy mucus, fast or uneven heart rate.

Less serious side effects may include:

  • increased sensitivity of your eyes to light;
  • nausea, vomiting, stomach pain;
  • constipation;
  • back pain;
  • sleep problems (insomnia); or
  • sore throat, mild cough.

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

What other drugs will affect porfimer?

Tell your doctor about all other medicines you use, especially:

  • allopurinol (Zyloprim);
  • griseofulvin (Fulvicin);
  • thalidomide (Thalomid);
  • an antibiotic such as ciprofloxacin (Cipro), gemifloxacin (Factive), levofloxacin (Levaquin), moxifloxacin (Avelox), ofloxacin (Floxin), norfloxacin (Noroxin), and others;
  • a tetracycline antibiotic such as doxycycline (Doryx, Oracea, Periostat, Vibramycin), minocycline (Dynacin, Minocin, Solodyn), or tetracycline (Ala-Tet, Brodspec, Panmycin, Sumycin, Tetracap);
  • a diuretic (water pill) such as chlorothiazide (Diuril), hydrochlorothiazide (HCTZ, HydroDiuril, Hyzaar, Lopressor HCT, Vasoretic, Zestoretic), chlorthalidone (Hygroton, Thalitone), indapamide (Lozol), metolazone (Mykrox, Zaroxolyn), and others;
  • heart or blood pressure medicine such as amlodipine (Norvasc, Caduet, Exforge, Lotrel, Tekamlo, Tribenzor, Twynsta, Amturnide), diltiazem (Cartia, Cardizem), nifedipine (Nifedical, Procardia), verapamil (Calan, Covera, Isoptin, Verelan), and others;
  • medication used to prevent blood clots, such as abciximab (ReoPro), bivalirudin (Angiomax), cilostazol (Pletal), clopidogrel (Plavix), dabigatran (Pradaxa), dalteparin (Fragmin), dipyridamole (Persantine, Aggrenox), eptifibatide (Integrelin), fondaparinux (Arixtra), ticlopidine (Ticlid), tirofiban (Aggrastat), and many others;
  • medication used to treat blood clots such as alteplase (Activase), tenecteplase (TNKase), urokinase (Abbokinase);
  • an oral diabetes medication such as glipizide (Glucotrol, Metaglip), glimepiride (Amaryl, Avandaryl, Duetact), glyburide (DiaBeta, Micronase, Glucovance), and others; or
  • a phenothiazine such as chlorpromazine (Thorazine), fluphenazine (Permitil, Prolixin), perphenazine (Trilafon), prochlorperazine (Compazine, Compro), promethazine (Pentazine, Phenergan, Anergan, Antinaus), thioridazine (Mellaril), or trifluoperazine (Stelazine); or
  • a sulfa drug (Bactrim, Septra, Sulfatrim, SMX-TMP, and others).

This list is not complete and other drugs may interact with porfimer. Tell your doctor about all medications you use. This includes prescription, over-the-counter, vitamin, and herbal products. Do not start a new medication without telling your doctor.

Where can I get more information?

Your doctor or pharmacist can provide more information about porfimer.


Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

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